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Network Centric Update Riff with Saul Alinsky Rules

Saul Alinsky's RULE 1: "Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have." - Network adjustment: It is also about the power your people think you have. The power of the internet voice now makes audiences believes that they can not be ignored or silenced. The power of network is that your enemy doesn't believe they can figure out the limits of your power anymore.

RULE 2: "Never go outside the expertise of your people." - Network adjustment. "Your people are smarter and more skilled and much broader and far flung than ever before." Expertise is not confined inside your walls or geographically as it once was.

RULE 3: "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy." Network Adjustment: "The only "expertise" that is uniquely segmented and unavailable to anyone is genuine emotion and passion vs. manufactured support. All else can be acquired in a networked world.

RULE 4: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." Network Adjustment: There are very few enemies that allow for "clear definition" in a network connected world. No clear enemy means no clear rules.

RULE 5: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon." Network Adjustment: Ridicule online is is the most potent weapon in a connected culture.

RULE 6: "A good tactic is one your people enjoy." Network Adjustment: A good tactic is one that breaks thru the noise of a connect culture to your target audience. A good tactic is one that creates positive movement or positive positioning of the issue or your efforts.

RULE 7: "A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag." Network Adjustment: Predictable actions have usually counter-measures.

RULE 8: "Keep the pressure on. Never let up." Network Adjustment: Keep the threat ever present but do not consistently spend resources. Spikes of attention and energy are more likely to destabilize a struggle rather than constant pressure.

RULE 9: "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself." Network Adjustment: unless the thing goes global and viral.

RULE 10: "If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive." - Network Adjustment: If you push a negative hard enough it will dominate the web discussion and become a fixed feature of discussions and debates.

RULE 11: "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative." Never let the enemy score points because you're caught without a solution to the problem. Network Adjustment: In a connected culture, alternatives can take shape on the fly. However, don't start an attack if you don't have some solution you back in the works.

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Network Adjustment: It is very difficult to target and impossible to freeze enemies. They have a tendency to teflon and reinvent themselves or instantly re brand. In the networked age, it seems more effective to not polarize solutions and personalize the conversation.

Long-live Sail Alinsky!

Link: Chicago Video Project ::: Library/Our Videos.

The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky and his Legacy Narrated by Alec Baldwin. Produced by Chicago Video Project and Media Process Educational Films. 1999.

A gripping story about how ordinary people can become forces for change. The documentary portrays a slice of community organizing history by revisiting Saul Alinsky’s pioneering organizing work with labor, civil rights, and religious leaders, and looking at how people use his methods today.



Listserves in Environmental Movement: Good Review

Here is another good report to read on the heart of all our years of listserve management and user contributed content in the listserve universe that predates web2.0 contributions.

Eric is a brilliant guy and really knows this community from years of working with the river rat community. It is a really nice jump between the web publishing and coordination tools of the past and how they inform today's strategy.

Link: Water Words That Work.

This report blends the data I collected during six months of observing relevant lists and the results of an online straw poll. It provides best practices for establishing successful listservs and explores the parallels between this network of networks and newer online communities like Digg, YouTube, Flickr, and blogs.

Whether you are the moderator of an existing listserv, about to start one for your group, or are interested in the “Web 2.0? phenomenon, this report is for you. I hope you enjoy it.

I will kick it around more in the near future.



Activation Point Read It...

This is a must read PDF for advocacy and communication staff. What things do you need to think about as you draft strategy for engagement? Many of the things are not earth shattering . They present stages to successful persuasion ...Stage One: People need to know, believe and care enough to want to act., Stage Two: People must have the will to act. Stage Three: Once people act, they must be rewarded for doing so. However, it is nice to get people to focus on the basics. There is also some great stuff in the report that is well researched and noted...


• When people have a high level of awareness of an issue, they are not motivated by more information. In fact, it can contribute to their state of inertia.

Hope is the only absolutely, positively essential ingredient to campaigns trying to inspire action. You must make people believe that the situation will get better –with their help.

• Timing is everything. Deciding when it is the right time to persuade people is a critical factor to defining an activation point – and can be very tricky.

• Understanding an audience’s comfort zone is key. There are clear limits to what even the most passionate people are willing to do, especially if the “ask” is outside their comfort zone. On the other hand, asking people to do things within their comfort zone allows them to feel good about helping without putting themselves at risk.

• People are selfish. They need to feel an issue is directly relevant to their own lives before they will act.

It is really good. Please read it. I was a part of bits of the process and I was very impressed with the rigor and horsepower in the room that worked on this. It is a nice contribution to the field.


Movement Building and Campaign Design Lessons from Energy Deregulation

Why a distributed collaboration and massvolunteer system will work. In a campaign context we are building out software systems and campaigns designed to tap this same power. How is the campaing against global warming learning from the industries it aims to convert?

How do campaigns that kick off from a centralized leader and ultility "convert" so that the grassroots efforts eventually "refuel" or trade back to the center thier local connections and grassroots organizing ideas?

This same system is at the core of successful social movements. However, today the centralized organizers of the campaigns against the war or against global warming lack the feedback mechanisms to balance the trade in a hybrid system. Efforts are "part of the campaign" or "off the grid" creating a lose lose context for compeditive organizers.

Link: Lessons from the Grid - Diary of a Knowledge Broker.

From an organizational standpoint, this represents a very different structure—the integrated model. Although neither centralized nor decentralized, integrated structures blend a centralized surplus distribution and backup system with a decentralized network of small-scale operations. Such interdependence distributes responsibility and authority to individual members in the social system so they can engage in self-sustaining behavior patterns while linked to a broader network of resources and markets. Individuals are in control of investments, operating expenses, and utilization of resources. They can take care of themselves first, sell the surplus, or if circumstances warrant, buy what they need or want when they are unable to provide enough by themselves.

The combination of electrical power grid, PV panels, and net metering represents one way developments in technology influence organization structure and design. As systems technologies become more powerful, pervasive, and transparent, sub-systems will become more embedded, integrated, and interdependent. The same concept applies to computers, the Internet, and payment for posting articles on a website or blog. As information and communication technologies continue to evolve, they will empower individuals to THINK independently, work openly and in parallel, and collaborate when opportunities arise for bargains and balances to be struck among the various comparative advantages, surpluses, and deficits in the larger system.

Thereby comes one of the unintended but inevitable consequences of pursuing “green energy” sources for power generation in lieu of “brown energy” sources: the fundamental organization structure and assumptions for organization design shift. Control is no longer held by a central body, be it a corporation, government, or special interest group; nor is it fractured and splintered to such a degree that collective effort is no longer possible. Instead, it is held in balance at the point where production, distribution, and consumption work in unison with one another for the advantage of the system rather than favoring the interests of a few at the expense of the many. Conventional wisdom may differ, but the world will be a better place for it!



Modeling self organization of communication and topology in social networks

A quick question about the backend assumptions guiding much of my work has opened a firehouse of new ides and places I need to mine for the next iteration of network-centric advocacy theory.

I am currently cooking ..
1. Movement as Platform ...Applying WEb2.0 design findings to movement building and campaign operations in the age of connectivity.
2. Network-centric advocacy rewrite.

And now I see the need for ...

3. Leadership in a network context
4. Creating self-synchronizing systems for social change.

The final two themes have emerged because the first two theories are being played out in the advocacy movement. There is now a growing number of peers that actually get we are "movement as network" and that we must therefore think about network capacity to improve our productivity and output. However, building on that network framework requires we answer 2 challenges ... if you build an advocacy network will it really self-synchronize to influence policy and social behavior (yes and how) to do things in this new network context and how does leadership work as a part of that process.


I am now looking for as much input as I can process on the nature of self-synchronizing social movements (what infrastructure do we need to put in place? What are best examples of self-synchronizing campaign? How do we focus on best theory of self-synchronizing infrastructure and build that into the DNA of a movement?)

This avenue of thinking is already highlighting some cool alternative theories for movement software and strategy.

Consider the strategic importance of lots of chatter.


"The different strategies to become central have different effects on the network topology. For example, the more an agent chats with its surroundings, the better it and the surroundings perform. "

Link: Modeling self organization of communication and topology in social networks.

The perception of the agents and the communication backbone differ substantially at low communication rates. At higher communication rates the rewiring become meaningful and the network topology no longer random


Modest Proposal to Organizers: Four Steps to Start

Conservative advise from ONENW. Easing into online organizing for small regional groups.

I generally do not see anything transformative or power building in the advise OneNW offers and can think of many "small regional" groups(here), (here) and (here)that have organized successfully online.

However, I do want to give a nod to the practicality of simple and solid advise.

OneNW does great work. But for the heart of their theory must give a nod to Michael Gilbert's 2001 Email manifesto in the same space.

we offer you our "modest proposal" for using online networking to further your environmental activism. Our strategy has four key elements:

Highlights:

1. Gather email addresses from your membership. Solicit email names whenever you ask for phone, fax or postal addresses.

2. Establish broadcast email lists for your online members to disseminate general information about your issues and activities, and for key activists who will most often respond to "action alerts" and other requests. These will provide you with a simple mechanism to keep your online membership informed, and to call upon your ardent activists when action is needed.

3. Establish discussion lists to facilitate communication between staff, board and key volunteers, and to communicate with colleagues on specific issues or geographical areas. Interactive discussion lists are more time-consuming than one-way broadcast lists, but if managed properly can be a highly productive means of communication.

4. Create a website that initially focuses on providing information to (and getting action from) your existing membership and key activists. Build a strong base for online activism among the people most interested in your work, and expand it to the general public as your expertise and resources increase.

I would add.

1. Set up a blog on your website and give lots of people access and training to write.

2. Set up IM network for your Board , volunteer crew and staff.

3. Capture local web debate (see yesterday's post)

4. Keep thinking like an oganizer and organize online in a way that promisses the same return on investment. (Do not spend 4 hours driving out to an organizing meeting of 10 people while ignoring participation in an online discussion that has hundred of people. Go where your audience hangs out online and engage them IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT IT IS ONLINE.

The technology advantage in organizing is not only about scaling up to national campaigns but the biggest advantages can come at the very local and small group level that can leverage new technology to coordinate and synchronize small groups of activists into a more effective advocacy team than we could just a few years ago.

The web benefits are already pumping free infrastructure into a bunch of uncoordinated ad hoc volunteers fighting local zoning issues. They are now a densely webbed small group and can start to think and coordinate as such.

OneNW advise is good... but I want to continue to push to new ways to align power with technology at the local and small group level while also synchronizing those efforts across the country.

Kudos to An Activists' Strategy for Effective Online Networking — ONE/Northwest.


Value of Rapid Response in the Youtube World

I have riffed before on the need to evaluate again groups and issue campaigns rapid response plans and capacity due to the shifts in our culture. It is both the rapid response and rapid attack strategies that should be revisted. We need to recalaculate the cost benefits because of the intensity of news cycles and now the perminate and intense flow of video on youtube and the spikes created by digg and other such sites (drudge or Kos can move 100,000+ hits).

The YouTube views on Coulter attack on Edwards has 669,061 viewers as of March 5.

This may not seem related to the work of activists oat the small local scale but groups need to think about the power of video at public hearings. Get those interviews and stories on youtube. Provoke your oopponets to explain things in venues you can video and forward the information across the tubes.

I would like to see best practices developed for youtube debate and engagement. How can a group of 10,000 supporters work youtube clips and most reviewed into a story?

Here is Ann Coulter's Youtube Story -

Link: Ann Coulter, YouTube and the future of rapid response at Blog the Campaign in 08.

Point is though that with the advent of YouTube and other social media applications, political campaigns are going to have to develop rapid response strategies whe the candidate or campaign staffers or political supporters end up screwing up or, as in the case with Coulter, say something outright rude. Whether it’s an apology from a candidate, a firing of a staffer, or a distancing from an idiot like Coulter, the response will - or at least should be - rapid. George Allen found out the hard way. Overall, it’s too earlyin the campaign season for this to be necessary for now, but if this was a year from now, you would see candidates such as Mitt Romney put some distance between his candidacy and Coulter. The reason why I mention him is because he spoke before Coulter and praised her.

I have riffed before on the need to evaluate again groups and issue campaigns rapid response plans and capacity due to the shifts in our culture. It is both the rapid response and rapid attack strategies that should be revisited. We need to recalculate the cost benefits because of the intensity of news cycles and now the permanent and intense flow of video on YouTube and the spikes created by digg and other such sites (drudge or Kos can move 100,000+ hits).

The YouTube views on Coulter attack on Edwards has 669,061 viewers as of March 5.

This may not seem related to the work of activists oat the small local scale but groups need to think about the power of video at public hearings. Get those interviews and stories on YouTube. Provoke your opponents to explain things in venues you can video and forward the information across the tubes.

I would like to see best practices developed for YouTube debate and engagement. How can a group of 10,000 supporters work YouTube clips and most reviewed into a story?

Here is Ann Coulter's YouTube Story -

Link: Ann Coulter, YouTube and the future of rapid response at Blog the Campaign in 08.

Point is though that with the advent of YouTube and other social media applications, political campaigns are going to have to develop rapid response strategies whe the candidate or campaign staffers or political supporters end up screwing up or, as in the case with Coulter, say something outright rude. Whether it’s an apology from a candidate, a firing of a staffer, or a distancing from an idiot like Coulter, the response will - or at least should be - rapid. George Allen found out the hard way. Overall, it’s too early in the campaign season for this to be necessary for now, but if this was a year from now, you would see candidates such as Mitt Romney put some distance between his candidacy and Coulter. The reason why I mention him is because he spoke before Coulter and praised her.