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July 2007 (alpha)

Wow. The folks at FatDoor just built the ward organizer for network-centric decentralized GOTV operations. ...Check it out. Small local groups can emerge and connect. People know this stuff in smaller and more stable communities but in urban areas and highly transitional areas Fatdoor could have an upside for issue organizers.

The core technology is there but they need some field organizers to help them understand the arc of interest, awareness, to conneciton and offline action.

Food for thought....
Link: (alpha).

ooking for a golf buddy in your neighborhood? Perhaps looking to form a volunteer group in your community? Or, do you have a recommendation to share with your neighbors?

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How do I use fatdoor?

Signing up for fatdoor is easy!

1. Sign up and claim your profile.
2. Then, you can meet your neighbors, change your personal settings, upload a picture and set your privacy levels.
3. Enhance your profile by adding interests, pictures and posting 'shout outs' to the neighborhood.
4. Connect with your neighbors, family and friends.
5. Join your favorite community groups or create one!
6. Edit anything around the neighborhood (think WIKI)! Review a restaurant, say something nice about your neighbor, and so on.

Use fatdoor to connect you with neighbors, community groups and events around you!

Don’t hire an Internet person at

Director of Network Operations

The problem underlying the title and undervalueing your advise runs deep. Most the people talking to you (especially nonprofits) think of the web/internet as a tactical support for the rest of the operations.

They want the “web” guy to support our restoration initiative, the web team to support fundraising, the web team to support field, the web to support membership. Web is a tactic the departments should use.

The reality is that dominating the web conversation is now a strategic pillar that can drive success in influencing the politics, fundraising, field and other key elements of the operation. (examples Ilovemountians, AlexsLemonade, Ron Paul, GreenmyApple, etc)

A good strategist and senior management operative will need to look at the over all mission, understand the constraints of other managers, understand the path of the campaign and organizational culture. The good strategist will compete in a larger organizational context for funding and the freedom form other departments to begin to implement a plan to dominate web discussion.

Without someone shift the organization at that level of management process an organization would rarely do even simple house parties or bake sales (lots of energy investment low return) and never any of the things we see the big campaigns doing now (why should they pick a song? - because if the online community is engaged on our site they are not engaged on our opponets’ site…etc))

The problem with hire an “internet guy” is that it is rarely ever perceived as a senior management position. They are not asking you for a staffer that could actually alter the message, strategy of the organization. They are looking for glorified tech support.

The problem is not the title but the positioning in the organization. Few groups can pay for the skills for a new senior management staff position so they get lots of technical wizs with a million ideas and no skills to get the organizational culture to shift.

Hire staff that can shift your culture. Call them whatever…

There is still a need for Director of Communicaitons. One is about message and message frame. We are talking about networks and engagement.

If our people go in looking to be Director of Communicaiotn they are going to get asked about frames, polling, focus group work, working with reporters, care and feeding of the press, cable ads, TV production, advance, etc. How many of the great web strategist could even hold themselves in a TV interview to stay on campaign message (rather than talk about tech? (no offense to the BS interviews you all have done). Our people are not Directors of Communications. Our people are very important but so is communication.

The key to positioning it correctly is to explain culture is shifting. The campaign or nonprofit is organizing in our culture. The culture shift is changing everything. Our culture is increasingly networked and online. The organization or campaign needs a senior management team that works to capture and channel modern networks of supporters to create the change we seek.

There is a need for a Director of Network Operations that works on staff, internal culture, seeking online networks, and empowering them or “hacking” them to create the advocacy outcomes we seek.

This is the way we should be positioning the folks that we know. These are the skill set NOI and others should build.

Good riff Zack

Link: Don’t hire an Internet person at

Every day I have the same conversation with at least one non-profit or campaign. They call and say, “Do you have an Internet person we can hire?” (Today I had four of these calls, and therefore this post.)

“No, don’t hire an Internet guy,” I say. “You need to make your senior leaders, campaigners & organizers responsible for the Internet just as they’re responsible for everything else. The Internet is the biggest, greatest opportunity you have—so why would you outsource it to some Internet person you’ll just stick in a closet anyways?”

But it usually feels like I’m wasting my breath. They call back a few weeks later and say, “We’ve taken your advice and decided to hire an Internet person…do you have any recommendations?”

So I think that all of us “Internet people” need to put our foot down. Let’s remove “Internet” from our titles and resumes. The longer we leave “Internet” on our name tags, the longer we’re enabling all this bad behavior—and devaluing our own contribution to the movement at the same time.

I know people who are the future of the progressive movement. Most of them have “Internet” stuck on them. But they are not Internet strategists, they are strategists. They are not Internet communicators, they are communicators. They are not Internet organizers, they are organizers.

Strategy Advise from People that Mine Blog data

If we hear it from enough people from across enough industries maybe the advocacy community will get it. Monitor online discussions, foster them, reach out to the leaders, engage people personally online (that is NOT an oxymoron) and address the issues people raise.


Kaushansky outlined a number of strategies to take advantage of the action online:

* Understand that it's all about communication, and encourage it. There will be a "lot of ugly discussion," he said. But companies should create forums for their customers to say whatever they want to say--good or bad.
* Reach out to the most influential members of your online communities, and in so doing, understand that every one of them is an individual. Some like to be contacted directly, while others like to interact only in a forum.
* Establish consumer advocacy programs by giving the community early information about new products, and even provide members with advance versions of the products. Then let them comment freely about the products.
* Transparency and honesty matter. Companies or company representatives who get involved in online communities need to make it plain who they are and what they represent. "There is nothing wrong with saying 'I'm from this company and I'd like to know how we can fix this problem,'" Kaushansky said. Pretending to be someone other than a representative of the company can lead to a public relations disaster.

Find people online. Talk with them. Answer lots of questions. Help them understand what you understand. Ask them for help. give them help. If someone called you would you talk with them? They are asking questions online don't make them pick up a phone and call you. When you talk with them online and you leave intelligent answers and ask for help and like to your site IT IS A FREE AD online much more powerful than a banner ad or google ad word.

Ask you members to do the same for you.

Anecdote: Why people don't use collaboration tools

Here is a great pile on on thread about collaboration tools ... Are these the right reasons the tools fail? If they are is backward mapping the right way to make them work?

Link: Anecdote: Why people don't use collaboration tools.

When faced with the choice of learning new technology and chatting to colleagues on the phone and email to get a job done, if it can be done with what they already know they will go with that.

Collaboration tools work best when your collaborators are geographically distributed and in other time zones and I wonder how many teams have that as a situation? Sure, globalisation is spreading and small, nimble operators are connecting using these tools, but how many large corporations are active users? I know IBM is and I would imagine technology firms would be at the vanguard. I was surprised however when PriceWaterhouseCoopers consultants arrived in IBM because there were unfamiliar with collaboration tools and disinterested in using them.

It works best when all the collaborators are equally enthusiastic and capable in using the tool. It just takes a handful of influential members of a team to stop using the tool for the tool to be abandoned.

So we want to really backward map these comments and develop a training and roll-out plan that works to counter these forces...

* find people that must work with one another to get the job or task accomplished.
* Help people understand the size and potential of collaboration beyond the team sizes they have worked with in the past.
* Develop communication norms and collaboration skills. Work with initial set of people that are most prone to collaboration and have the skills to do it off line too.
* start collaboration on simple low stress and iteratively done work (don't start with big projects). Projects that build a culture of learning and doing together. (who knows who?, logistics for a meeting, note sharing form events, etc.)
* Use the tools to support existing networks of people that know each other and expand from there.
* Set up a template of the kinds of questions that can regularly keep collaboration moving.
* Help people get familiar with tools and how they are useful.
* Only use easy and proven tools that are easy to learn and use.
* Set up the use of the tools into a situations where the scale and distribution make traditional email and phone coordination not a workable option (like a campaigns to fight injustice, stop global warming, build a peace movement, etc.) Slowly migrate people to use the tools as demand dictates.
* Invest in the process and coaching things along to reap the benefit down the road.

That moment

It is these moments that make us wonder...did I blink? Maybe I did Maybe I didn't. Maybe it just exploded and I had to blink.

Seth's Blog: That moment. I like this riff.

It is there for us. We are in a moment as an environmental movement, as an advocacy community. Are we entrenched in our old way of thinking? Are we taking this moment at solving the problem facing the planet. We are not at the moment in history of great organizations. We are at the moment of networks. The information and network revolution is shaping our history, our industry, government, wars and economic future.

The edge of the scary is to think about network actions to create change and investing in network capacity to make it happen. Networks are our current opportunity to stir things up. We are aided by a huge tail wind of culture and commerce. We are staring at the loose networks of people that have disengaged. We are looking at the 1.4 million nonprofit organizations. We are trying to find a way to network them into a force for change.

Did we blink?

That moment

When you are sitting right on the edge of something daring and scary and creative and powerful and perhaps wonderful... and you blink and take a step back.

That's the moment. The moment between you and remarkable. Most people blink. Most people get stuck.

All the hard work and preparation and daring and luck is nothing compared with the ability to not blink.

mass distributed volunteering...please don't blink.

When Campaign 2.0 Met Citizen 2.0: A Confusing Love Story | NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network

Here is a great riff which starts to dig into that fuzz between staff and organizational driven campaigns and the viral nature of today's empowered supporters. Our campaigns must be aware that people can and do self-organize outside walled gardens our campaigns try to build from Obama and Harry Potter Alliance on myspace, to alumni associations on linked-in, to Hillary's Campaign headquarters in Secondlife. People will organize around your campaign without you. At the local level it might be as simple as a google-group created about your issue or river.

How do these worlds mesh?

Link: When Campaign 2.0 Met Citizen 2.0: A Confusing Love Story | NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network.

Rather, adopt a strategy for managing your message in a chaotic environment. It is important to keep some distance between your organization and your network champions and supporters. Embrace them as outside supporters. Help them with inside information. Celebrate them when they help you and give them latitude when they drift away from your primary message. But do not bring them inside unless they have a well spelled out contract with you regarding their duties and expectations.

Remember, social networks are inherently organic and thus they must be cultivated. Marching orders are for armies. Social networks are not armies, they are open communities. They are the people who you wish to embrace, not troops you send into battle to fight for your cause.

If you approach your social network strategy with patience and a realization that you are virtually stepping into the town commons, you will reap rewards. You will be able to disseminate your message, recruit supporters, and keep your finger on the pulse of the voters (at least the voters in that community).

If you enter with unrealistic expectations, you will be disappointed, probably give up too soon, and alienate supporters in the process. As I often tell people who ask if there is any proof that the social networking strategies work, “Not yet, at least not systematic evidence. But then again, there was no systematic evidence that television worked for the first 15-20 years of its life, either.”

Most groups think this is crazy to twist and listen to these self-organizing online citizens. Having watched the sector for years, I would say you could sum up the way to work with influentials online...treat the online social networks as one entity the same way you would a major donor.