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March 2012
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Yochai Benkler. Keep Watching. We will Catch Him Someday. Foldit

  

Thinking about FOLDIT, I started thinking about the brilliance of Yochai Benkler. 

There is something here for all of us in the social sector.  The critical innovation in our space is to continue to throw the challenges of our work out to the network to create the content, plan the campaigns, set the course, and do the work.  

The challenge for us is breaking the challenges down and setting the network to share. They did it at FOLDIT. 

How does my game playing contribute to curing diseases?

With all the things proteins do to keep our bodies functioning and healthy, they can be involved in disease in many different ways. The more we know about how certain proteins fold, the better new proteins we can design to combat the disease-related proteins and cure the diseases. Below, we list three diseases that represent different ways that proteins can be involved in disease.

 


Compound Bow, Longbow and Bowling Balls. Network-Centric Advocacy: Potential Energy with the Advocacy Movement.

Compound bows maximize the energy storage throughout the draw cycle and provide let-off at the end of the cycle (less holding weight at full draw). A traditional recurve bow has a very linear draw force curve - meaning that as the bow is drawn back, the draw force becomes increasingly heavier with each inch of draw (and most difficult at full draw). Therefore, little energy is stored in the first half of the draw, and much more energy at the end where the draw weight is heaviest. The compound bow operates with a very different weight profile, reaching its peak weight within the first few inches of the draw, and remaining more flat and constant until the end of the cycle where the cams "let-off" and allow a reduced holding weight. This manipulation of the peak weight throughout the draw is why compound bows store more energy and shoot faster than an equivalent peak weight recurve bow or longbow.

via en.wikipedia.org

The rules of potential energy tell us an object can store energy based upon its position and structure.

How is your movement building a “compound bow”?

Here is another way to think of energy, imagine a bowling ball…in a flat gravel driveway,  a significant amount of force is required to accelerate it. However, the same ball sitting on a dirt road at the top of long hill will roll with the slightest nudge.  The ball will start bouncing, hopping and rolling down the dirt road. 

The difference in these scenarios of the bow or the ball on the hill  lies in the stored “energy of position” created by the ball’s placement and the bows structure. Potential energy is measured in degree of ability to perform work, to displace some quantity of mass.

It takes exactly the same amount of energy to move the ball up to the top of the hill as it does to accelerate it along the driveway but “the cost” of investing the energy is not linear. 

It would take a lot of capacity to blast the bowling ball down the drive way to the same speed (bouncing, hopping and rolling).  

A compound bow takes the mechanics of energy storage to an even greater design alloing a user not just to hold the energy but to hold it comfortably and directed and stored to deliver the most use.

These same forces exist within advocacy. With a little creative thought about building stored energy into a campaign infrastructure, we can lower the costs and capacity needs of accelerating change.

In our world when we are working to “displace some quantity of mass” we are talking about influence in culture, policy, opinion and actions. Do you build a base overnight or do you leverage more efficent stuctures to build and store energy?  How do you position your assets so they have the greatest work potential stored in them?  Where is the last place to store your bowling balls  and assets (in the middle of a valley or behind hoops of program officers and applicaitons) ?

 Using this framework,  we can think of some principals for campaigns.

  1. Don't wait to build your movement because you want to hold back your reserves. Focus instead on building tools that build steadily "hold" resouces ready. However, borrowing from logistics and supply chain management also remember  the flexibility of your "energy holder" really matters.    There are a few new movement structures out there but they are deisgned to "store and nuture" a movement for others to leverage on demand. 
  2. Once a base of clout is organized in a new "position" it will change the dynamic of work. The compound bow changed warfare, and distributed supply chains drove shifts in business models. As we build more flexile campaign teams and infrastucture, the fundamental ways we organize will transform to leverage the new systems in place.   When many groups can all leverage the reach to the  same base of activist while still being independent you will see new organzing as a service model emerge (testing at www.movingmdforward.net).
  3. Finally, the tempo of delivering clout changes because the potential of the movement is organized more "forward and nimble" and therefore the other campaigners see a shorter cycle between developing campaign ideas and being able to implement them. The increased tempo of organzing creates a "mobilizing" dynamic consisting of many things "to do" for people that are eager to see progress and move the aganda forwad. The momentum creates more clout.

(I need to push this forward more...another day...must sleep...) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Maid Serives, Nail Salons, Taxi Cabs, Issue Groups and Complex Problems for Organizing Change.

We operate in a sector that has no profits, no barriers to entry, little overhead and low labor costs.  In every other sector like our own, the dominate model of operations becomes small independent operations or very lightly controlled franchises. The world of issue organizing is joining the ranks of barber shops, landscaping, maid services, truckers, taxis, newspapers and nail salons.   This shift threatens the core business model of important groups but it also gives rise to new models and services.  

The life-cycle of a movement usually starts as an issue emerges inspiring individuals to act and organize. Founding groups in a movement are organized (NAACP, wilderness society, Teamsters, Amnesty International) get formed and grow.  The new groups recruit talent and pulll together power to create change. As staff increase in skills, build personal and professional networks and talents, a percentage of the talented staff, Board members or funders get increasingly frustrated by the decisions of managers (boards, brands, etc) or politics (wrong message, wrong focus, to conservative or to radicle) so these talented staff split off to create splinter operations that compete directly for media, members, attention of policy makers and funders.

 The basic barriers to entry and the overhead with being a political issue group have gone down toward zero.  In the last ten years the tools to organize, collect information and broadcast messages has dropped drammatically.  The overhead of running an organizaiton has dropped so much that new groups start up quickly and can compete with the same tools as the best funded groups.  These new start ups can survive with less money and provide the niche organizing that the public wants.  Additionally, the overhead of running an operation has dropped and is so low that both groups remain in operation and are likely to continue.  

 The trend willnot go away unless there is an increase barriers to entry or drastically increase overhead costs to stay in business (both unlikely). Political and issue organizing is a complex and chaotic environment in which we want many or all organizers to survive. In fact, we care about overall market share of people engaged and growing the base of people that wish to be a part of organizing for change. We know that the new groups often reach new segments and work on new issues so we are always interested in pushing new organizing to a new edge.  We care about growing the overall engagement and overall success not the allocation of interests and members within individual groups.  

 The problem that has emerged is that as the cultural forces splinter organizing units into smaller and smaller factions the issues that must be addressed grow in scale and quicken in tempo.  Issues such as balancing influence of multi-national corporations, climate crisis, human justice and dignity on an international scale, war, natural resource management and child safety have spiraled into global issues requiring extensive power to track, evaluate and promote solutions.  Even in the US, our own government has take to moving prisoners overseas to complicate the extension of ability to address oversight by US activists groups.

Simply, the problems we want to address are getting bigger while the mechanisms working on the problems are getting smaller. Smaller groups are becoming more powerful but the sum of the smaller groups’ power is significantly less than the potential power of the whole.   

Given the transformation this trend represents to organizing, it is essential to actually solve the challenge of enabling a highly fractured network to work together in an advocacy and issue context.  It is essential to invest in the strategy, training, analysis, research, tools and platforms that enable relationship building to occur and it is essential to train a new generation not just of managers but of network leaders.  


"Choices Reveal Who We Are" & Who We Are Is Shaped by our Choices.

I always enjoy Valdis Krebs' perspectives on networks. The way Valdis sees the world is interesting and this riff is no different.  Getting the data on what users hi-lite is in a way like a peek into a deeper  level of our behavior than just the books we follow and the friends we keep but gets at a level of data that may reveal why we like that book, or maybe why we like those people.  

It is not just the also-bought data that matters (which books bought by same customer), it is what we specifically find interesting and useful in those books that reveals deep similarities between people -- the hi-lites, bookmarks and the notes will be the connectors.  Our choices reveal who we are, and who we are like!

via www.thenetworkthinkers.com

When the choices available are shaped by our culture and policy, the reverse of this statement starts to become haunting.

The choices we have available to us, reveals who we are and who we can become. Working to shape fair choices, healthy choices, and uplifting choices  is at the core of lots of policy and social advocacy work. 

 


Guerrilla Libraries .. The Network Coordination. Old Phone Booths as Network Hubs.

Is there any screening process for the books? For instance, do you try to include great works of literature, or perhaps focus on more accessible and popular novels?

I want everything and anything. I don't have much of a budget, so all the books are donated from people that live nearby and off my own shelves, so everything from Oprah-approved to Jane Jacobs. And obviously as people leave their own books, I'd want the collection to become a record of the interests of that particular site.

A next site I have in mind is near a public school, and I'm trying to get a good collection of children's books.

via www.theatlanticcities.com

This is beautiful.  The real human network finding ways to leverage resoruces (love the art angle). This is the "open source" of library organizing.  Find extra capacity or resources built into the basic unit then use network production to leverage it.

Where does it go from here?  

  1. Create a common vision on the future of the open library. (The "leave one. take one" network?)
  2. TXT to sign in an volunteer as a librarian. Text sends reminders. Send photos 
  3. Encourage people to sign the book when they return it so people get a sense of community in the asset.