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June 2006
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Panda or Senator : Best Use of A Million

Here is a funny little story about Pandas. I actually think they are good to have around (maybe we will need them to replace Polar Bears after global warming kills them off. (Bamboo is really hard to control in North America.)

the interesting question is should the zoo spend ten million on a Panda to China or buy a few senators to pass better climate legislation....hmmm

Link: Gulfnews: Don't panda to misty-eyed sentiment.

It is not as if this misguided sentiment comes free. China exacts a high diplomatic price for its "panda diplomacy". Even the zoo in Washington DC, famous for its pandas, does not own them but rents them from China for about $1 million a year apiece. Now there's a trade deficit to get het up about. For $1 million you could rent a senator. Case closed. Pandas are badly designed, undersexed, overpaid and overprotected. They went up an evolutionary cul-de-sac and it is too late to reverse. By cosseting them we are simply rewarding failure.


The Framing of Immigration: Economic Refugee Crisis

This is worth a read even if you don't work on the issues of immigration. It is a good reinforcement of the power of frames to shape a debate and a call to reread "Don't think of an Elephant." The insiders seem frustrated with GL and the frame process but framing is a really useful tool.

What does this memo tell me to focus the debate on...

1. The US is dealing with an "Economic Refugee Crisis" that is pushing 800,000 people a year across our borders.

2. We are dealing with a humanitarian crisis that pushes good hardworking families to be separated and hundreds to die on a trek to earn a living wage.

3. We need Foreign Policy Reform that cuts support for corrupt governments and dysfunctional banking systems that bleed hard working and sacrificing people from developing countries. We need offer people freedom to follow jobs now that we have mutli-national corporations and trade agreements that are so fluid with capital and assets. Companies have more freedom and choices than the people.

4. We need to reaffirm the core American stand of birthright citizenship before small minded nationalists with fear of diversity attack another one of our core building rights in this nation. (I am the grandson of an economic immigrant from Ireland and I know they tried every trick possible to suppress the Irish too). Born in America is the test of American citizenship.

5. It is an economic crisis, fueled by American choices toward cheap labor. American consumers and businesses pay low wages to provide the crap served out at WalMart and McDonalds. As long as our country continues to do anything and everything to "save a buck" regardless of the human cost we will continue to have economic pressures to hire refugees.

Link: Rockridge Institute - The Framing of Immigration.

The language is telling. The linguistic framing is remarkable: frames for illegal immigrant, illegal alien, illegals, undocumented workers, undocumented immigrants, guest workers, temporary workers, amnesty, and border security. These linguistic expressions are anything but neutral. Each framing defines the problem in its own way, and hence constrains the solutions needed to address that problem. The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, we will analyze the framing used in the public debate. Second, we suggest some alternative framing to highlight important concerns left out of the current debate.


Fourth Generation Warfare

There is an interesting set of ideas. The military folks are kicking around the implications of what they are calling " fourth generation warfare". The shift in network organizing to the point that both states and non-states can wage war.

Can we also assume that states and non-states will be able to wage peace ? Will loose networks (the Second Superpower) be able to coordinate efforts to drive diplomacy? Will power bases connect directly to diffuse conflict?

In an advocacy context how are the small bands of people victimized by multi-nationals connecting to fight for human dignity? (Coke in India)

In all contexts of struggle borders and boundaries are becoming fluid. Given many fake conflicts that are stirred and created between disconnected people the true answer to Fourth Generation Warfare will hopefully be something besides killing, torture and weapons of mass destruction.

It is interesting contextual information in these articles for those of us thinking about creating network effectiveness across distributed nodes.

Link: Fourth Generation Warfare.

That world is breaking down. We appear to be returning to the situation that characterizes most of human experience, where both states and non-states wage war. In 4GW, at least one side is something other than a military force organized and operating under the control of a national government, and one that often exploits the weakness of the state system in many parts of the world.


PressThink: The People Formerly Known as the Audience

Communications, campaigns and organizing are changing. Jay Rosen's riff on the Audience is directly related to the way advocacy and organizing groups think about members and supporters.


Link: PressThink: The People Formerly Known as the Audience.

The People Formerly Known as the Audience That's what I call them. Recently I received this statement. The people formerly known as the audience wish to inform media people of our existence, and of a shift in power that goes with the platform shift you’ve all heard about. Think of passengers on your ship who got a boat of their own. The writing readers. The viewers who picked up a camera. The formerly atomized listeners who with modest effort can connect with each other and gain the means to speak— to the world, as it were. Now we understand that met with ringing statements like these many media people want to cry out in the name of reason herself: If all would speak who shall be left to listen? Can you at least tell us that? The people formerly known as the audience do not believe this problem—too many speakers!—is our problem. Now for anyone in your circle still wondering who we are, a formal definition might go like this: The people formerly known as the audience are those who were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern, with high entry fees and a few firms competing to speak very loudly while the rest of the population listened in isolation from one another— and who today are not in a situation...


Connectedness: Teaching executives to see social capital, by Ron Burt and Don Ronchi

Kudos to Bruce Hoppe. Bruce focuses on the way to connect the dots for business and is a great well spring of ideas on the ways or advocacy groups or advocacy networks can benefit from social network analysis.

Can we get our field operatives, foundations and political strategists start thinking about strategic social capital. Bridge vs. Bond is it even on your radar?

Link: Connectedness: Teaching executives to see social capital, by Ron Burt and Don Ronchi.

A couple weeks ago I posted social capital in one easy lesson, featuring my one-slide executive summary of the benefits of bridging and bonding. I invite you now to pause briefly and contemplate "Two Kinds of Networking": There. Did you notice what just happened? Just by thinking about bridging vs. bonding, you increased your power to win resources, achieve impact, and increase profits.

If that seemed all too easy, then I refer you to "Teaching Executives to See Social Capital" by Ron Burt and Don Ronchi. They describe how executives who took their two-week social capital business training course returned to their jobs and outperformed their untrained colleagues by a significant margin. (Note that we are measuring performance by tried and true metrics like salary history and job longevity, not obscure metrics like betweenness centrality.)

As Burt and Ronchi point out, their research shows that businesses can use the network perspective to improve performance even without investing in a single network survey or organizational map.

My favorite part of Burt and Ronchi's paper is their reference to the work of Janicik and Larrick, who studied how well people learn "who knows whom" in an organization. It turns out we expect our friends to know each other, and we



Network Organizing: A Strategy for Building Community Engagement

I am a new fan of local organizing guru Bill Traynor. My local organizing heroes are in Lawernce. Together, they are rolling out network-centric organizing strategy at the community level.

"Our principal role, as an organization and a network hub, is to let loose this power of collective demand in the neighborhood environment, a place where the suppliers have ruled for quite some time. "

Yeah! Are we building "supplier organizations" or are we focused on letting loose the power of collective demand?

Kudos to Bill and the Network in Lawerence!


Link: Network Organizing: A Strategy for Building Community Engagement.

Across the country there is a fundamental condition that consistently undercuts even the most successful community development efforts: chronic disengagement. In most cities, public or civic life is a hostile environment for the average person, ruled by cynicism and division, and dominated by entrenched habits of isolation and detachment. Unfortunately, while our community development field is engineered to build the physical things communities need – new homes, community centers and small businesses – and to some extent, to influence the policy that supports those products, we are not designed to attack this condition. CDCs, other community building groups, and the funders and intermediaries that support them, have to confront the possibility that if we do not build resident power and engagement and repopulate the barren public landscape in our cities, then we are ignoring one of the key challenges in the field today and undermining all our other efforts.

At Lawrence CommunityWorks (LCW), a CDC in Lawrence, Massachusetts, we joke that, for years in our city, everyone has had just enough clout to stop anyone from doing anything, but not enough to actually get anything done. Lawrence is one of those places where disengagement has left a vacuum of energy, vision and leadership in public life.



Final Chapter: Chevy Tahoe Sales Falling 46.2%: To the clip

There once was a debate. Were the culture jammers being played by the PR firms? Did they predict our creativity, voice and passion? Did they expect 40,000 ads (mostly negative) viewed by five million people? Did they expect most of the mainstream press and viral networks would all hone in on the stupidity of SUVs? Or were they thinking we would boost sales?

For those who wondered about the ad campaign? Was it positive advertising? What is Spin and what is BS? Was the ad agency manipulating those of us pushing the campaign?

Nope. We are addicted to oil and Chevy is one of the pushers. No more questions. Learn your lessons GM. 46.2%

Light trucks, amid persistently high gas prices, took the biggest hit, down 37.1% to 236,019, with the Chevy Tahoe and Trailblazer falling 46.2% and 33.6%, respectively.

Let's play the clip.....



BookCrossing - The World's Biggest Free Book Club - Catch and Release Used Books:

Network based book service. Decentralized book sharing via public places.

What are the factors that make this work?

1. Excess product with low cash value.
2. High degree of fun enjoying "free" stuff released by others.
3. Easy coordination via the Internet.
4. People are basically good.

How can we apply this to similar community based challenges with physical items? Metro cards or small change (take a penny leacve a penny). Campaign literature? Advocacy, lobbying talking points, disposable digital cameras? near state capitals or big organizing events.

"Take one - leave one" boxes in the city, on the ferry, on the train? gift wrapping paper on the way into and leaving airports......

Link: BookCrossing - The World's Biggest Free Book Club - Catch and Release Used Books.

You've come to a friendly place, and we welcome you to our book-lovers' community. Our members love books enough to let them go — into the wild — to be found by others. Sharing your used books has never been more exciting, more serendipitous, than with BookCrossing. Our goal, simply, is to make the whole world a library. BookCrossing is a free online book club of infinite proportion, the first and only of its kind. Inside, you'll find millions of book reviews and hundreds of thousands of passionate readers just like you. Let's get right down to it. You know the feeling you get after reading a book that speaks to you, that touches your life, a feeling that you want to share it with someone else? BookCrossing.com gives you a simple way to share books with the world, and follow their paths forever! The "3 Rs" of BookCrossing... Read a good book (you already know how to do that) Register it here (along with your journal comments), get a unique BCID (BookCrossing ID number), and label the book Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, "forget" it in a coffee shop, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone comes here and records a journal entry for that book. And if you make Release Notes


Gilbert Email Strategy Passing the Test of Time: Scale your Listening

I was prompted to think about email and web strategy lately. I am always drawn back to Gilbert's "Email Manifesto". This is a great interview between Michael Gilbert and Michael Stein on the staying power of Gilbert's insights.

Here are the clips that still click most with my thinking....

You still get a higher return on investment on money invested in email. You still get better websites when you design them around your email strategies. And the better you are at thinking about email, the better you become at thinking about relationship management strategies in general.

Most groups really don't think of the strategy except as an afterthought to program staff. How can I take this newsletter or report and spam my members with it. How can our fundraising department spam more people more often. The email as a delivery tool IS NOT a communications and relationship strategy.

it's been the medium-sized organizations that have been the pioneers and innovators of these techniques.

The big groups were able to dominate the web and add all the bells and whistles (video, interactive reports, mashups, etc. Now everyone can have these to. Many of the real organizers (who are communicators by nature, who are interested in relationships and active participation) were not web as cheap TV type strategies. the organizer groups picked up on email more effectively than policy and program shops.

I fear that eCRM has become another buzzword in support of the traditional nonprofit habit of not developing solid communication requirements before investing in technology.

Communication requirements come from strategy. How are we thinking not only about our own email passive list but how others are going to forward our message along. How well does the email work as a strategic communications tool?

Nonprofits have got the outbound part of the relationship-building cycle in hand right now, possibly even to their detriment. They have done really well with the scaling up of how much they talk to their constituents. The challenge now is for them to scale up their listening.

YES. YES. YES. included in listening is... processing and reacting to the conversation in a meaningful way. Groups may have opened the email pipe out of the HQ but they have not really figured out strategies on ways to process (with the network) the feedback coming into the group. I would be surprised if more than 10 groups ever changed a campaign (or stopped it) after feedback via email from users.

Great Interview. Link: Nonprofit Online News: The Enduring Power of The Gilbert Email Manifesto.

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Mashup

This was a really good explanation of "MASHUP" and the trend to let others hook data into each other and create their own product from your output.

Link: Outside Innovation: WHY “MASH UPS” MATTER.

The term mash up came from the field of music. A musical mash up is a remix of two or more songs into a new piece of music. A Web mash up is a new application that is created by pulling together two or more complementary Web-based applications and/or data sources; for example, mapping a database of known child-molesters onto a map. Every time a new person is added (or removed) from the child molester database, their location is automatically added or removed from the map.

Why should advocacy groups care?

1. Big business are starting to leave hooks out there for us to use. (Google Map) voter walking, pollution and activists lists .

2. People are building their own mashups and may only want one stream of your regular output (they don't want to pass on your entire newsletter to their users but they might pass along a feed of local river conditions, volunteer actions, etc.


Air Force Mining Blog World : Air Force Discovery Internet Rich Source of Information

There were a few things that are note worthy in Valdis' post.

1. Air Force Blogs Study May Provide Credible Information
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research recently began funding a new research area that includes a study of blogs.

2. “The fact that the web is a vast source of information is sometimes overlooked by military analysts,” Kokar said. “Our research goal is to provide the warfighter with a kind of information radar to better understand the information battlespace.”

3. Valdis does a good job talking about the implications to political strategy and the next cycle. The "big guns in politics" are thinking and talking about network mapping but everyone is unsure are they mapping it to build networks or rip them apart.

Link: Network Weaving: Un-Weaving Networks II.

In a political war[the upcoming elections of 2006 and 2008?], the battling parties would like to know their opponent's structures -- how are they organized, who are the key nodes in their network, and where are their points of failure. With the no-holds-barred political strategies of today the following questions are being asked: Who do we discredit today? Where do we split the network so that it declines into ineffective fragmentation? Whose switchboard do we tie up? Who do we start rumors about? Who do we turn against each other? In other words, how do we disrupt the others from waging an effective campaign? These are all questions that can be answered beginning with link analysis of public information on the WWW. Link analysis tools and public data are available to all who desire them. Which leads to an interesting possibility... if the government is mapping the blogosphere, will the bloggers map the government?

Disrupting terrorist networks is a good thing -- we want to dismantle their networks. But is it a good thing to do with your neighbors and fellow citizens? Political polarization is an effective election strategy, but it just makes us weaker as a group to our foes. Weaving together perspectives and people here at home, and with our allies, makes us much stronger to any and all enemies.


Psssst... for the Airforce blog report... Let me save a ya a few bucks...lots of bloggers thought the war was a really bad idea. Lot's of bloggers don't think the administration has a clue or a strategy. The best way to peace is rarely via a gun. It is possible to inspire revenge.