Complexity is Not Stable. New Power, Old Power and Balance

A great set of articles by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms , “Understanding New Power”  and a follow up riff on that article from from Michael Silberman on MobilizaitonLab have inspired some noodling around with their work.

In the table below, I remix a similar table provided by Heimans and Timms with a slightly different focus in order to point to the stability of the models used. I am reshuffling the layout by looking at gaps between production of power and value and the degree to which the producers of that value and power share in the governance and benefits of their contributions.

Potentially if a business/model is in different columns in the top row than in the bottom row, it is less stable and open to competition from competing models that are aligned and more stable. In some cases, the shift toward stability will come from revolt and/or organizing from within.



A more detailed response to the articles by Silberman and Heimans and Timms is published on Netcentric Campaigns’ official blog, Netcentric Advocacy. I hope you’ll check it out.

Looking ahead; The trends that complement your advocacy strategy.

Here is a thought provoking overview of business strategy ( the ideas ~slide 24 on complements and core business). The focus is on the power of platforms and drives home the advantage to building an "ecosystem" of activity that builds on itself and  in the process drives the platform success. (Think Apple App store)

We are NOT applying this strategy in a social change context. (YET)   We do see some of this in voter registration,, and but very little at the issue or state level.  This trend of networking people together into movements IS the opportunity for the organizers of this generation.  Increasingly, the complex issues we must address can only be solved with successful networked responses. 



Do you think your movement has a strategy to build the platform for your work? Are you working in a way that is doomed by the forces that drive a winner take all dynamic? How does your engagement with someone that cares about your issue benefit from others that also work on that issue?  How does your success in recruiting a new member or supporter fuel success of anyone else?

We must start thinking about the network effects of the way that we organize.  Our actions as organizers, policy advocactes, and nonprofit managers have effects that extend beyond our organization.  We must start to organize ourselves to launch campaigns and organizing in a way that each effort drives down the costs of civic participation (not increases the tax on the people we all need to engage).  

As organizers, we must focus on the protocols for better user engagment for the public (not just on our issue). As organizers, we need to focus on winning in the new economy created by the networked world. We must work in new ways to reconnect and invent new ways for large and small organizations to thrive in the age of platforms and networks. 


Lots of Money and One Important Lesson. Those who need the change the most lead.

What we have learned in our work around the globe is that there is no sustainable social progress without social movements – without ordinary citizens, those who need the change the most, taking the lead on their own behalf.


This is worth saying again and again. How does your strategy drive "taking the lead" to the people who need the change the most?  Big social movements are relay races not sprints or marathons. It can be a slow path.  You better practice the handoff before you are in the final turn.

It can be a hard path. But if you don't show image from me the path you are going to loose.

Solid network-centric investments ALWAYS open up that path to engage the people that need the change and support them in the path to leadership.

Story of Change.. Go to the Heart of the Problem

Right On! Another great video from Annie and Freerange.   It will be interesting to see how the quiz results connect audeinces to each other to mobilze work.   Hope you get involved and support the work. 

True power comes from building new power: Cheryl Contee Offers Great Talk at PDF


"True power comes from building new power. " YES!  Cheryl recaps some powerful trends that are worth pondering in tech, organizing and advocacy. She also just does a great job of telling her story. 

I am so thrilled that PDF is pushing speakers video online. The conference has consistently the worst timing for me and although I always want to be there. I highly recommend PDF.


The Agitator Recap on Mobile 2012

Check out the recap and overview of the Neilsen and Pew findings on Mobile over at the Agitator.To apply mobile strategy to social change, I  also recommend following the ongoing great work of the team at

“Some 70% of all cell phone owners and 86% of smartphone owners have used their phones in the previous 30 days to perform at least one of the following activities:

  • Coordinate a meeting or get-together — 41% of cell phone owners have done this in the past 30 days.
  • Solve an unexpected problem that they or someone else had encountered — 35% have used their phones to do this in the past 30 days.
  • Decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant — 30% have used their phone to do this in the past 30 days.
  • Find information to help settle an argument they were having — 27% haveused their phone to get information for that reason in the past 30 days.
  • Look up a score of a sporting event — 23% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days.
  • Get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get somewhere — 20% have used their phone to get that kind of information in the past 30 days.
  • Get help in an emergency situation — 19% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days.”

Activity by age shows the expected pattern


Is Mobile  a part of your strategy? 

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.


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
  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...) 












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.


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. 


What Flows Through the Network Defines It. Twitter, Facebook, Ebay, Amazon, School Network, Knowledge Networks, Advocacy Networks

Twitter is Not a Social Network is a really thought provoking riff by Gideon Rosenblatt it also has links to some interesting data analysis of twitter.  I agree with the basic trust of the post and it has triggered some clarity about the nature of designing advocacy networks online and offline. I have riffed before on the concept that advocacy networks are not social networks (people that worked on climate change do not want to socialize with each other and may even hate each other.)  But this post brings that distinction into event more clarity. 

My big take away lies hidden in the way Gideon focus on the differece between networks of people (facebook) and networks that use people to achieve specific ends.  

You could call eBay a social network and you wouldn’t be wrong. eBay does connect people; people who want to sell stuff with people who want to buy stuff. What’s interesting about eBay though – what defines it, really – is how those connections are used. What flows through the eBay network are bids, transactions … and products. That’s because it’s an online marketplace; an online marketplace that rests on top of a network of people.

How about Amazon? One of Amazon’s most valuable assets is its user-contributed product reviews, which are essentially just Amazon connecting people who know something about a product with people who want to know something about a product. Clearly, that’s not all Amazon does, but connecting people is a really important part of what they do. So, is Amazon a social network? Well, yes, you could call it that, but that would be confusing ends with means. While less obvious than eBay, Amazon’s marketplace also rests on a network of people.

This approach line of thinking triggers two responses that are consistent with how I understand networks and yet are really contradictory. (oh well)

Good Networks are flexible: Once networks are built (as they are components of infrastucture) the networks will be LEVERAGED IN NEW AND DIFFERENT WAYS .  Sewage networks to run fiber optic cable, cable to run internet, power grid to run data, work networks for dating, dating networks for business, etc. etc.  I think all smart network designers really try to figure out how to manage that. 

 Facebook is on its way to building a general purpose computing and communications platform with the same kind of power Microsoft held in its hay day.

Getting networks to work together comes from establishing protocols for connections and use of the network, but any set of protocols will be tested and constantly pushed for more flexibility. Good network design (ones that embrace a strategy of growth and nimbleness accept both ).

If Facebook is the social network utility, Twitter is a social network application. It’s a great social network application. You might even say it’s a killer social network application. 

As advocactes, we need to test those protocols and exploit the funcationality of networks to achieve change. In the framework Gidieon suggest, our job is to design "advocacy applications" that exploit the power of networks that others have built.  (campaigns on facebook, , organizing revolutions on twitter, political organizing after a local community group meeting,, leverage facebook, etc. etc. ) However, to do this we need to both understand the functionality and culture of the network AND we must understand how we need to complement "what is"  with what is needed to make a funcational advocacy network.  The lack of mashing together social network (builds trust and communicaitons lines) with the full needs of a advocacy network (feedback mechanisms, common vision, common language, access to shared resources, etc.)  leads to the failure of many advocacy camapaigns run on social networks.  (look at the funcationality differences between and facebook.)

Design of networks DOES influence the character and outcomes that the network will produce. (Here is where the apparent contridictions come in with everything above.) Ebay, Twitter, Facebook,Google, etc. are all networks designed to connect people to do certian things and LEVERAGE what they do as connected to create greater value of the network. 

We can build facebook followers, we can get twitter followers and build email lists but these acts are very important to be able to listen more, and broadcast more. They are ways to open new pathways of communicaiton to users and from users but alone they are not sufficent to say we have build an advocacy network.  Smart advocacy networks are made up of smart advocacy leaders and participants. Without the full set of elements for an advocacy network the network will fail. (see the Nov ananlysis of Occupy network).

When and how we build the advocacy network,establishes the protocols for use, scalability, behavior, and connection (see preventobesity leader registration) this in turn dictates the general parameters of what the network will produce.  The network funcationalities we measure,  the tools we offer, and the feedback we bake into the design are what create the ways the network will get smarter and the capability of what it can do. (for example: ebay seller trust, amazon reviews, facebook likes, googlepage rank).  In a good advocacy network design, we need to provide tools not only for connecting to people (channels and relevant intelligence so people can pick who to connect with) but also tools and services for moving the tageted policy and culture change. We need to do both while constantly developing shared data that informs the network particiapants and the network designers about what is going on, what is working, and what gaps exist.  simply put, building a social network is not building an advocacy network.

Finally, in either case Gideon's conclusion holds true challenge to advocacy network designers as the biggest stuggle in an advocacy context.  

Utility is power and general utility is power squared.

This is the limiting factor of traditional focused advocacy, one off campaigns, single issue groups and the like.  This is the strength of TeaPArty, Occupy, Momsrising, AARP and Moveon. the more fluid they can be across advocacy thier utility power is amplified. These groups established "flexible" brands but we are also testing flexible data policy that encourages sharing the data on individuals that are part of the network in support of the mission.

As advocacy network designers, we want to be as general as possible without loosing the ability to influence the most important elements of direction.  We must disgn networks that provide value and funcationality to "hook" users and manage the connections with those users to the greatest value for them, for the connection to each other and for the network effects. 

I try not to be so late to the conversation but this post by Gideon Rosenblatt has been cooking in the draft pile for a few months. I think his point is looking at utility and the relative strength of Facebook vs. Twitter but teases out something that I think ties up the ways we think about building advocacy networks. However, I have been hoping that I could come up with a solid post  that reconciled conflicts in the way I read the post. 

The networked radar detector:

image from graphics8.nytimes.comThe new feature, Cobra iRadar Community takes the warnings your detector receives and shows them to other iRadar users. Already available for the iPhone, it becomes available for Android phones next month, the company announced at the International Consumer Electronics Show here.


this is a beautiful design. I love the idea of gadgets being able to talk to each other so that even though they are distributed to multiple users they act as a comprehensive grid. This would be very interesting in security alarms, smoke detectors, asthma inhalers, door bells, etc.

If we can connect like products, in the value added and nonintrusive way, the idea of connecting together data to add further value would provide great advantage.

How long will it be before the police seemlessly pass data from radar, and photo enforcement to cars in the street? I am also curious how the radar/phone connection exposes users in states where radar is illegal? Can police ring/txt those phones and remind them of the penalty of using radar detectors?

This is a really interesting space.

Building a movement to listen. Building a network so the movement can adapt.

There is a fantastic riff at occupywinning by Jonathan Matthew Smucker.  I highly recommend reading it. 

it’s wrongheaded to get caught up in the elusive search for the perfect silver bullet tactic. Movements are, more than anything else, about people. To build a movement is to listen to people, to read the moment well, and to navigate a course that over time inspires whole swaths of society to identify with the aims of the movement, to buy in, and to take collective action.

For a long time, I have been thinking about the tactics of resistance and change.  I really like this piece because it speaks not only to #occupy as a tactic but seems to ask many of the right strategy questions.

A tactic is basically an action taken with the intention of achieving a particular goal, or at least moving toward it. In long-term struggle, a tactic is better understood as one move among many in an epic game of chess (with the caveat that the powerful and the challengers are in no sense evenly matched). A successful tactic is one that sets us up to eventually achieve gains that we are presently not positioned to win. As Brazilian educator Paulo Freire asked, “What can we do today so that tomorrow we can do what we are unable to do today?”

In the epic game of chess, if you loose because your opponents change the rules and you don’t get as many pieces, find another game to play.  The thing about #occupy that is a “different game” is not the 99% frame but what is going on among the people.

I want to offer that occupy is not a tactic. “occupy” is an organizing structure. Is setting up a nonprofit or launching a traditional coalition a tactic or an organizing structure?

Occupy is the brand but occupy doesn’t mean staying over night in the streets but something more about ownership by the people who participate. Occupy is the message that leadership is not a fixed thing. Occupy is compelling because it demonstrates and tells a story that leadership is among us. This movement is ours. Occupypolice, occupydesign, occupylaw, occupyarrest.occupyoakland, this is the sense of people ownership . The 99% frame is a reflection of a structure that is empowering because it casts a light that we also own other power tools.

We own the democracy. We can if we muster the courage own the power to reset the rules of the chess board.

Any new message discipline or change in operations that doesn’t reinforce that everyone owns occupy or can own occupy is the genuine threat to its strength.

Suggesting change

The occupy movement and the network of the 99% is not yet functional enough to change or quickly adopt, message or movement or tactics. The people lack the connective tissue across cities, there is not enough viral people to people conversation beyond the twitter and other social media.

What can we do? Listen more and turbo charge the capacity of the people that have shown up to inspire others.   We can continue to vary the offerings so that Occupy can pick up the long-tail of support not just the power users that camp and march.  Focus heavily on more voices and adaptability based on the needs identified by the people that participate.

If we do that, the network will strengthen, common language will be given the breathing room to evolve and the visionaries and leaders within the occupy network will be able to guide it thru the change in operational tactics and messages.  The strong network with a high tempo of people owned and lead mobilizations (online and off) will keep the movement vibrant.

One of the most important things we can do today so that we can do more and different things tomorrow is to layer across the occupy movement in the street is the layer of advocacy network structure it will so desperately need in the weeks ahead.

Help this #occupy video reach millions of Americans on TV — LoudSauce. The crowd is the communications department.

This is a great example of how a network gets work done with shared resources. I imagine we are going to see lots of use of these decentralized tools to “act”.

What will happen with the video?

When we hit our fundraising goal, we'll be able to put this video on the air during popular cable TV shows (like Seinfeld repeats or Sports Center). It will run just like a normal ad.

If we don't hit our goal, you'll get your money returned to you. LoudSauce uses Amazon to process the payments, so it's super secure.

Help this #occupy video reach millions of Americans on TV — LoudSauce

Loudsauce looks very cool.

OccupyWallstreet is not a brand. Why does Occupywallstreet feel different? The network is occupied. A riff…

didn’t have time to make it shorter yet..late night riff not quite a rant but thinking while tired is always dangerous)

It is not a mistake that the #OccupyWallstreet movement has a different rhythm to other movements, street protest or campaigns. #OccupyWallStreet seems to be shaping up as a good example of an advocacy network. This movement along with the peace movement of 2004, Obama Campaign 2008, Teaparty of 2010, Arab spring, is the latest event suggesting organizers need to recalibrate the ways we think about our work.

“In fact, we are witnessing America's first true Internet-era movement, which -- unlike civil rights protests, labor marches, or even the Obama campaign -- does not take its cue from a charismatic leader, express itself in bumper-sticker-length goals and understand itself as having a particular endpoint.” --- Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don't get it -

Many organizers are trying to sort out ways to “lead” the movement and the ways to “save it”. Many traditional leaders want to “drive the occupywallstreet bus” but don’t understand what is actually going on, how to participate, what it needs, or what to expect. Their confusion is intentional.

“The exhausted political machines and their PR slicks are already seeking leaders to elevate, messages to claim, talking points to move on. They, more than anyone, will attempt to seize and shape this moment. They are racing to reach the front of the line. But how can they run out in front of something that is in front of them? They cannot. For Wall Street and Washington, the demand is not on them to give us something that isn’t theirs to give. It’s ours. It’s on us. We aren’t going anywhere. We just got here” . (from the occupywallstreet journal…)

People are wondering “what the hell is this?”, Do I drop everything and jump in?” or “is it a waste of time”? Our dreamers and skeptics, don’t know if it is a movement of crazies or will it go away after the first big news story.

Food for Thought

Occupywallstreet is not the brand. The user experience is the brand.

We are a generation that understands “brands” as an experience. Starbucks or Apple Stores the experience of engagement is changing. This is not a single logo, banner, story, camp or occupation. This is the teaparty and the peace movement, this is the new labor, the unemployed, and the artists. Occupywallstreet may or may not stick around. A general assembly may get their demands met or fade into nothing. They may get beat by police or celebrated as heroes. We don’t know.

We do know that tens of thousands of people are being “on ramped” to engagement and leadership without preconditions. We know that lots of people are paying attention and that this loose ad hoc movement is pulling off organizing that some of the best in the organizing business couldn’t imagine possible.

The experience is that the camps assume, people are informed. They are there to be served, encouraged to struggle and to be a part on their terms. People are exposed to sausage making. People are assumed to be leaders and committed. People are assumed to inspire each other without need for “professional spin and packaging”. Everyone can interact with each other. Nobody owns the movement or the people of the movement.

OccupyWallstreet like a few other internet age movements has started from a very different place than any advocacy group. No matter when I show up, or how little or much I give. This movement is “mine” not “theirs”. People own this.

Leader full movements are not leaderless.

Network-centric advocacy is intentionally resilient. Competition among leaders is a feature not a bug. Networks are designed to foster continual experimentation and the network demands adaptability as a feature. Being a “leader full” movement means that change is the only thing that satisfies the movement not co-opting the leaders or creating a few points failure. This design means that cohesion is harder to maintain but arguably less difficult than dealing with centralized leadership that not only fails but also saps the movement the passion of participation.

Movements Diversify to Grow : Focus when power is needed.

When movements are growing they should be diversifying. The open door invites a broad agenda. Many traditional organizers are both wishing that this movement would focus so as to define it. However, the occupy frame and resistance is beautiful in that it encompasses so much and invites more. The real test will not be if it stop accepting new ideas and agendas, but the capacity to deliver solidarity when the “one for all and all for one” comes to the test. In a highly communicative environment and an age of quick alignment, can this new movement deliver power?

When you come out of nowhere, there is a fear you will go back to nowhere.

Ad hoc movements scare both allies and opponents because they don’t know how long you will be around. When there are no barriers to entry, there are no barriers to exits. People can come and go and comeback again. Is occupywallstreet the new Sierra Club or are they the peace movement of 2004? People are afraid to invest in the early days, because they don’t want to be the “fools” that dumped lots of time and energy into a movement that disappeared in the first snow storm. But they also fear being irrelevant if they don’t join. Those fears can be combated with hope and faith in the people they get to know as a part of the network.

In the new age, these old organizing fears can also be combated by knowing that “nowhere is not gone.” Networks have a very low life support cost when they are not active. Do people think the anti-war movement is gone because it didn’t build a new corporate headquarters? Are the resistance in Iran gone? Does it surprise people that after 2008 election progressives experienced a big lull? The failure is not in keeping people engaged when it is dangerous, expensive and not productive. the new challenge is to train and set up operating procedures, and leaders that are geared to support a movement that fosters rapid “out of nowhere” growth, successful rapid organization and also rapidly dissolving with the process and assumption that the movement will reconstitute again and again in new configurations, with new causes to do new actions. Driven by new leaders each time.

Advocacy will always be a high risk business.

High risk business with a known brand or a bunch of victims on the street is still high risk endeavor. Betting on the most trusted names in advocacy has not exactly been a winning strategy. The only difference is our people in the street will be harder to predict and probably cost a lot less to sustain.

Beyond these themes, I also wanted to take advantage of the moment to layout the network-centric advocacy framework, examples from coverage of occupywallstreet and suggestions for a network action plan and guidance on how traditional organizers can engage.

1. The Network Managers Rapid Network Assessment of OccupyWallStreet

Netcentric Advocacy Element

OcccupyWallstreet Example


  • Transparency in planning and communications
  • Listening (the General Assembly)
  • “Camps” – People feeding and caring for each other. Spending the time to connect with each other.
  • Deep respect for all the participants regardless of background.

Common Story

  • The event itself.
  • Crazy culture getting to know each other’s stories.
  • Being “ok” with lack of single demands

Communications Grid


  • Not clear yet…. will emerge from the use of the communications grid and feedback
  • Occupy

Shared Resources

  • Working Committees
    • Medical Care
    • Legal Advise
    • Arts and Culture Tents
    • Hospitality
    • Entertainment
  • Websites
  • Volunteers


  • The size and durability of the camp.
  • the sustained participation of return campers.
  • Size of the walk in crowds.
  • Belief in the general assembly.
  • Morale in the Camps
  • Handsignals (not applause)
  • News coverage
  • Chatter on the communications grid

Network Actors



  • greeters
  • (don’t know how the different camps are cross pollinating ideas and weaving with traditional organizations. )


  • The many people that want to push the camps into actions and to adopt campaigns and causes.


  • logistics and organizers that welcome new people and manage the volunteers.


  • Walk-ins
  • People connected thru organizations.
  • supporters online and offline

My suggestions on a “Network Action Plan”

We should all be careful to realize there is a better way to support networks then to co-opt them. We also need to realize that all networks have a carrying capacity, an ability to carry “load”. Just as you assess how an organization will respond to a big grant, or an individual to a winning lottery ticket, how can a network be fed additional strength without overloading it? What are the investments that will boost the advocacy network capacity of occupywallstreet? .

My riff of organizing supports based on observations online…. suggests that the movement needs more “feedback mechanisms” that are good at showing participants what is working and drawing people toward them. (invest in a welcome and exit interviews) that are published across the network. Such regular reports will help build unity around values. Organizing a daily “morale measure” dashboard with the meetups would be good to identify places that have something powerful going on and the places that need additional support.

The communications grid is effective in camp and online, but I am not seeing enough cross camp and multi-channel communications. Netcentric-Advocacy framework suggests layering in more robust communications grid would be helpful including a clear unified additional radio coverage, live streaming, 800 call in shows and other ways of fostering camp-to-camp suggestions. This would help support the transitions of communications from web, to voice and paper and back again from paper and voice comments to the web.

Develop a process for managing shared resources including better collection, warehousing, distribution and management of resources across the camps. Develop a more robust “starter pack” process so that part of the strategy includes each new occupy effort growing to a set size and then spawning another.

Support staff and others to participate and support the folks in the camps to become part of anchor teams to coordinate trust across camps. Support the development of volunteer weavers to guide the more established organizers navigate getting involved.

What Can you Do as a Progressive Organizer that wants to “tap into” the OccupyWallStreet opportunity?

  • “Tune in” listen. Go. See what this is about. Spend time “owning” the movement to sort out how your organizing fits. Build trust and relationships with a new generation of leaders.
  • Be patient. This is only the first experiment. There will be waves with each applying new lessons, technology uses and organizing techniques. It is going to take time to develop language that works with such a diverse and changing group of participants. Until the common language and values emerge, it will be difficult for large scale coordination to take place.
  • Try to move your issue and talk about it with the people in the camps. How do you relate to their issues and stories?
  • Push more good people to go to participate, network, listen and build social ties. Figure out how they are building internal trust in the local organizing. Encourage staff to at least visit for a day to see what they can learn and to find allies they can support.
  • Blog, post to social media and write about your experience. Add to the communications grid, find ways to facilitate more conversation and communications capacity within and across camps and people within the camps that care about your issues.
  • Encourage your best story tellers and staff writers to go, blog, video and write about their experiences in a way that works to lift up the common language and values.
  • Provide more “shared resources” let your local leadership know what assets you can offer from voter lists, food, printers, communications help, volunteers, policy briefing committees, etc. Start “snowballing” with the activities on the ground building successive waves of activity for example coordinating online and phone activities to add synergistic effects to street actions.

What to expect?

  1. Expect good things.
  2. Find new activism and new leaders. Learn new skills and connect with potential allies in your own efforts.
  3. Expect to find more things to do and more issues to consider and support.
  4. Expect frustration and inspiration at the same time.
  5. It is ok. If Occupywallstreet disappears. Prepare for it. This brand of experience will grow and the mass mobilizations will become more frequent.

The new people are connecting and networking with each other. They are catching a new “bug” of civic engagement . They have a different strand of the virus then the environmentalist, civil rights, labor, organizers of the past. We all need to welcome them into our tribe of people that work and suffer so others they may never meet have better lives.

VW's Darkside on CO2 Lobbying. Great Greenpeace Campaign!


This is very well done. My gut is that it goes viral. Greenpeace has the tempo of campaigns and actions to hook the users and can use this type of creatie campaign to open a relationship with users.

The campaign is

  1. fun & funny
  2. has "an ask"
  3. culturally relevant
  4. creates conversations anong users

Are you in an learning community with Crowd, Light, and Desire. ? Dance on.



Those of us organizing political power and mobilizing on the web are in a new ecosystem of rapid learning, improvement and experiementation.  Watch, play and experiment if you are not keeping up with the trends you need to find more dance partners.   They don't need to be working on the same issue, in the same country, or even speak the same language.  Watch them. Learn what works. Inspire each other and bring the voice to your own campaigns to organize new voices.  How can we have major campaigns and fights against injustice within our own movements that are not online. NO MORE. Get your work online.  

Dance or digging a water pipe. Go people!








Network-Centric Success? Read the Health Care Campaign Evaluation

AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, Americans United, Campaign for America’s Future, Campaign for Community Change, Move On, and USAction joined together to build a national coalition whose top priority was health care reform. Dan Cramer of Grassroots Solutions and Tom Novick of M+R Strategic Services (M+R)  provide a fantastic evaluation.

They were able to interview the key players (70) and review all the documents and activities of the campaign.   Evaluation: Executive Summary of Findings and Lessons from the HCAN Campaign | Atlantic Philanthropies

It is a great piece of work. I highly recommend reading it.

What I liked?

What was missing from the report in my opinion?

  • A really good budget breakdown.
  • A deep discussion of the effective field operations. What were the staff structures that worked well?  (in the lessons sections this structure is outlined… local organizers > field coordinator on the ground > regional manager > national field director)  Did other staff configurations work?  where there any flatter states that were effective?  What were the job roles and responsibilities at each level ?
  • How did the reporting mechanisms benefit the field operators and local organizers?  Or was everything a report “up” meaning the reporting was not aligned with the network structure?
  • Where was the coalition blindsided? Why? what parts of the risk was the coalition blind to?
  • The types of actions that were effective at reinforcing the common story, motivating the staff, etc.  The report misses the important “human side” of keeping the network together.
  • The details about the communication grid of the network. What worked and what did not? what did the field staff find most valuable in keeping “in touch”?
  • The online /offline issues need to be explained further. 
    • did capacity building in the states focus in local online engagement capacity or was that portion of the campaign centralized?(as report seems to suggest)
    • What was the key differences in the states that did online and offline coordination well ? Are there characteristics of the states that did not leverage offline that can be identified and addressed in future efforts.
    • Which advertising was most important? 20 million in ads to produce 873,000 calls to congress and 600,000 faxes seems like an all online focus could have been a more productive.
  • What tricks did HCAN do to keep the network management and coordination costs to just 9%?   What is included in that?  How much overhead was absorbed by state and coalition partners?  Did they all break even on the contracted work? Does this set an unrealistic expectation of network building work?  Was the strategy and development part of the overhead or project costs? (Even the evaluation at $170,000 is a tiny % of 47 million dollar campaign. Is it sufficient?)


What is worth further discussion?

  • How was trust built in the campaign?
  • How did alignment and common vision discipline get reinforced with partners that were not being funded?
  • Accountability mechanisms and planning.  What were the feedback mechanisms that enabled the network to learn as it operated?  How was reporting enforced?
  • What was the plan to sustain the connectivity in the network after HCAN?  There is discussion of the challenges with sustaining the operations in the field (which is highly unlikely) but there is no discussion of the strategies to maintain the network value over time.
  • Is it at all surprising that any grassroots mobilization this large is not well liked by congressional and administrative staff? (This seems more an indicator of success as the insiders will always feel like they want to control the game)
  • Was the fundraising distributed?  HCAN calls the centralized fundraising a failure but I would expect the distributed nodes to be more effective at that work.
  • Is there any reason to believe the lessons, organizational, campaign and otherwise are scale dependent?   are these lessons only true for really big campaigns or is it fair to say that HCAN is a 47 million dollar network-centric effort demonstrating the complete scalability of lessons that the grassroots leaders have seen play out in a neighborhood campaigns?


I increasingly believe that with an intentional plan. Advocacy Networks can be built and directed.  It is essential that the analysis of these networks be completed with an eye toward evaluating the success or failure of the components of network-centric advocacy capacity.

AARP Online: They can't be different from most nonprofit web strategies.

This article from Online Media Daily gives a brief overview of AARP’s re-designed website.

And here’s a link to AARP’s very useful study of online practices by the 50+ crowd.

Good news: 40% of 50+ internet users consider themselves extremely or very comfortable using the internet. We’ll make online donors out of them yet!

And 27% use social media sites (many learning about such sites from children or grandchildren). However, reflecting their almost genetic preference for print media, when it comes to following the news (a driver of giving, at least in the cause sector), only about 36% look for online sources, and of those 66% chiefly go to the sites of traditional media (cable news, newspaper and magazine sites).


Often groups complain that the online strategies are not a good fit for thier older membership. It is great to see AARP teaching the rest of us how to most successfully engage thier membership and give us real data on what works with that audience and the trends there.

Revolutions are not made: they come. A revolution is as natural a growth as an oak. Welcome the Age of the Low Motivation Revolutions

Revolutions are not made: they come. A revolution is as natural a growth as an oak. - Wendell Phillips

The basic equations that are at play are the same in each revolution.

Motivation + Network Capacity = Revolution Potential

We can see that the motivation for change builds from hope and despair. Motivation is inspired by crack downs. Motivation emerges from seeing injustice.  The economic pain motivates people as a does history of police abuse. Motivation comes from empathy and fear as well as belief in success.

Network capacity is the only global virus leaking into every corner of humanity on the backs of cellphones, cheap processing power, commerce and information flows.

Network capacity is the ability for the stories to circulate and networks to coordinate. Network capacity includes a common stories, common language, common vision to throw off the oppression. Network capacity is the ability to share, communicate, coordinate and swarm. Network capacity is the ability to see in real time what works in another country or across town. Network capacity is the ability to adapt quickly. Network capacity is the backbone of solidarity and taking actions with other and working together.

As the world pours “free” network capacity onto populations we are arguably not just entering the age of networks but the age of low motivation revolutions.

What does this mean?

  1. Small bands of really motivated people will connect and trigger revolutions.
  2. Large bands of just very mildly pissed off people will connect and trigger revolutions.
  3. Because revolutions take less motivation we will need to do more to keep people happy or we will endure rapid destabilization.
  4. The longer people suppress connections to the free network  services the more traumatic change will be  once the motivated get networked.

Leading in the age of revolutions is 1 part motivation and 1 part network builder.  If you have a motivated public throw more network capacity on them to create change. It is increasingly important to know what makes a network functional and to understand the mechanics of networks. Hope we can help.

Flash Mob Gone Wrong. What if?

Flashmob gone wrong.





This is interesting food for thought  in 5:40 seconds.  We know there have been flash mobs that lead to vandalism and muggings.  We have seen international networks work to rescue people or foster hate crimes. We need to be thinking about the shifting ways people behave , the way people consume information and the complete distortion of time and scale that networks operate on.   How does this change your thinking at the US State Department? How does this change the way you organize as a teacher in Wisconsin?  What does this online and offline mixing mean to groups with 10,000 followers and friends? How do you convert attention to action? How is that engagement ladder changing in a world of flashmobs gone wrong?

Why Work on Childhood Obesity?

There are lots of resons that I like working on childhood obesity. None of them seemed linked to the pure data that explains the problem.(obesity rate widget) Data is compelling. The control of the widget helps make you think about the issues behind the data. I typically can be a bit geeky but I am not sure I would have "connected the dots" these trends, the widget and data with people.

However, I was at a conference a at the end of last year,  a doctor from the CDC gave a talk that has stayed with me. (My sister is a doc. ) I know what good doctors do. I know how hard they work to be a good doctor. I know what it means to my sister to help someone. Anyway, this doctor (I need to go back and look at the agenda to get the name straight.) talked about walking away from bedside practice to take a job at the CDC.  She looked into the room and of activists working on health and childhood obesity and pulled from a lifetime of experience to tell us  "we are all at the bedside." 

She took a job at the CDC because she realized shifting just a few percentage points on this issue, was going to save many families from the need to hold hands of loved ones with tubes up thier noses. She knows addressing childhood obesity was going to reduce suffering, pain and loss on a massive scale.  She knows what early death looks like in a hospital. She has faces on the numbers below.   She challenged of us in the room to dig deeper in our work. She challenged us to realize we all stand with those families everyday.

I didn't go to medical school but I have been at a bedside during to many of those moments. I can easily put my own faces behind those shifting numbers. I am also very proud of the work we are doing at 

Check it out. think. act. Take the widget for your site.  


Connect. Relationship. Engagement. Is that the path?

Turning connections into relationships is the essence of “engagement” and we’ll be covering that (a lot) in future posts. In the end, what it really comes down to is practicing much of what we’ve been taught since we were kids. Engagement and building relationships are about “meeting people halfway”... Both sides have to reach out in order to meet each other. It’s a given-and-get world and the sooner we center ourselves in this relating, the happier and more effective we are – both as individuals and as organizations.
Gideon Rosenblatt is opening up his pen again on networks, connections and engagement. Gideon is one of the really smart people exploring the intersection of network theory and social movements.  I am excited to read more.  Although out of the blocks, I find myself disagreeing with some of his starting thoughts....
Two reactions to his good post...
1. Advocacy networks are not social networks. Social engagement and civic engagement are different beast entirely. If you invest in social networks you get social outcomes. Some social outcomes can be leveraged for advocacy. However, it is totally appropriate for people who have no social ties with each other or any relationship with each other to be able to work together on social agenda. There are people who want to work on climate change that I will never like nor would I ever want to sit down at the dinner table with them. Conversly, I have family members that I love and would bleed for but we do not see eye to eye on a single social issue.
Turning connections to relationships then relationships to engagement might not be the right path. Seeking engagement that is based on connection is the opportunity of our time.

2. I am really interested in the idea that both engagement and relationships are scaling virtually.

I forget where I was reading it but I ran across a quote that kept me thinking. human beings are the only species that can make up arbitrary symbols and give them value. Things like art, currency, neighborhoods, brand names, even the concept of the tribe or nation. We make these up. We make them real. They all evolved from something real and tangible but have unique charateristics that allow us to share , move, exhange and trade them.

Just as if you went back to an early silk trader and offered them some google stock or money deposited into a bank they would think we were trying to rip them off.  Today, I think there is a similar disconnect of relationship with the symbol of relationship. While this seems like a ripoff to those of us that are used to trading silk. symbols of connection among individuals may open up new opportunities to scale relationship and connection to numbers, cluot, voice and value across borders as never before.

We see the beginning of  scaleable human connections now. It may take anther decade or more before we really understand what it means I may take another 10 decades before people actually believe you can be connected to 1 million people do something successful them. However, I don’t see the trend reversing and I feel a lot of optimism about a more connected humanity.

Cultures get what they celebrate!

Clay is on fire. Cultures get what they celebrate! What does your campaign and movement celebrate?  Are you setting up a movement culture that celebrates sharing, collaboration, collective action and trust? Or are you celebrating donations, staff size, media attention and individual credit? What are the metrics you celebrate in movement building? Are those different than when you focus on legislative outcomes?

There are tons of good riffs in his talk and book. Ways we network the movement will directly position (or not position) civic change leaders to leverage these dynamics.  It never happens by accident. In each case it took leaders to build the network, support the network and drive the network to produce.  Usually, they were different leaders and each had different skills and focus.

Social Media Campaigns are Data Driven

9 Tips on How To Run (And Not Run) Social Media Campaigns

This is an interesting look into the role data plays in scaling social listening and being attentive to those that you are interested in sustaining the conversations.

View more presentations from Rapleaf.

A Network Haiku. Palin and Discovery. Dark Clouds. Boo. Boo.

Here is an interesting contest of user voice. It generated 1600 Haiku's about Palin getting a million dollars from Discovery. I wonder if twitter and txt culture makes for better Haiku contest?

We thought Discovery Communications' decision to give Sarah Palin a "nature" documentary series about the state of Alaska with a paycheck of a cool $1 million per episode deserved a tongue-lashing.

So we invited you to join us in delivering Discovery an unconventional response. And we've received an overwhelming response, with more than 1,600 haiku submitted by you in just the last week!

Now, we need you to vote for the top haiku.

Friends of the Earth staff have culled through thousands of your haiku to bring you the best of the best. These haiku help show how ridiculous the notion of a Palin "nature" show is.


Orgs with email list of under 10,000 grew online revenue by 26% YEAH!

Great service from Convio for sharing this summary and Michael Stein for his work.

There are some really interesting trends in here. What do they tell us about the future?  How do these trends shape the movement? 

  • Online giving grew 14 percent. 69 percent of organizations raised more in 2009 than 2008, while 31 percent saw declines in their online fundraising.
  • 61 percent of all organizations saw their average gift drop in 2009.
  • The average online gift was $80.81,
  • the online revenue per usable email address in 2009 was $11.68.
  • Small organizations grew fastest. Organizations with fewer than 10,000 email addresses on file grew online revenue by 26 percent, and gifts by 32 percent.
  • Email files continued to grow strongly. The total email file grew 27 percent in 2009 to 39,100 constituents.
  • The open rate for email fundraising appeals was 19%.  The click-through rate was 1.7%, down from 2% in 2008.  The overall performance of online fundraising appeals was 0.15%, a slight rise from the year before.
  • Web traffic growth continued for most, but at a slower rate. 60 percent of organizations grew their website traffic from 2008 to 2009. Web traffic growth in 2009 was in the single digits at 6 percent compared with double digit growth seen in previous years.
  • Web traffic was strongly correlated with email file growth. 38 percent of an organization’s success building large email files could be directly attributed to the amount of traffic to the organization’s website.
  • Registration rates dropped. The rate at which organizations converted website visitors to their email file declined to 2.12 percent in 2009.
  • Constituents were more reluctant to open emails and click-through. While open rates for both fundraising appeals and newsletters remained around 20 percent, the click-through rates for both types of online communication declined in 2009.
  • About 7% of online activists also donated money online to the organization they took action with.  Conversely, 8% of online donors also took an online advocacy action with the same organization.


Growth in small orgs. Growth in those that invest in generating web traffic. Growth in depth of connections with the membership. 

Traffic Flow by Data Points: Look at the pulse of a city.

What is the data you want to see? What is the traffic and transactions in your work that reveal patterns? What do you learn from this as a Taxi driver? Police? Mugger?

What data services and "maps" should we be thinking about as a movement that will inform our organizers, policy people, communications staff and fundraisers? 

What is going on at 3am on Friday?

Human Nature Doesn't Change: Human Behavior Does.

This is a good presentation. Great line and introduction to the shifts in technology producing changes in behavior.  The goal of human nature is hard wired in people.  Somewhere in our bipedal mammalian evolution, we picked up socializing and connecting with each other as a species characteristic. 

The real evolution of the internet is not about the content, marketing, philanthropy, product placement, etc. etc.  The core of the network is connecting people to learn and share with each other, to collaborate, to evolve and to be.   Our survival in the ecosystem is dependent on communication and collaboration, it always has been and now it is just scaling with the people on the planet.

People increasingly turn online to find people who know, people to care, and people to accompany them while they are experiencing life. Those connections are evolving human behavior to a scale and tempo that is not comfortable for many.   What if people do get more value and reward from 5000 friendsters than 5 close friends?  What if "fame" online is as self-rewarding as fame offline?

The buzz about the collapse of social fabric is wrong. The "wisdom of the crowd", "wisdom of the market"  suggests that people are making daily choices all the time to connect via phone, email, FB, etc. about every topic and covering the entire range of human experience.  The experiences are all different but also very much the same. 

How does technology scale the best and worst of human nature?

Twitter Cofounder Jack Dorsey On Using Twitter For Social Change

This is in line with the training work we have been doing on twitter for activists.  The power of Twitter comes from 3 sources for activists.

  1. The ability to instantly connect people who don’t know each other but care about an issue, event or action. (#hashtags)
  2. The ability to set up a group of trusted people and connect them even if they are not in front of computer but not tight enough to share cell phone numbers with each other. (lobby days, coordinating action etc.)
  3. The ability to scale up your listening, broaden your radar and listen to people you don’t normally get to listen to so regularly. (Micah Sifry is one of the smartest and well connected activist … who does he follow? Follow them directly. and now his lists…


Jack Dorsey nails it… Good Huffington Post Interview…

Impact: How can people use Twitter more effectively for social change?

JD: I think the biggest thing is supporting each individual update more, getting away from [Twitter] being a social network and focusing on individual tweets, so that you can create a whole movement from that. Right now we have the hashtag, which was invented by our users, but it's still a little bit cumbersome. But we've seen that tool have a dramatic effect on how people organize and it serves a particular event or a particular moment and then disperses when it's no longer necessary. Or, the hashtag becomes a full-fledged Twitter account which people can follow permanently. I think making that transition [to concentrate on the value of individual tweets] in an easy way would be very, very helpful.

Twitter Cofounder Jack Dorsey On Using Twitter For Social Change

Engagement without Joining - Youth Vision

It is tragic that we don't have intentional efforts to drive power, leadership, budgets and responsibility into the hands and power of tested, smart and emerging young leaders.   They are interested in engagement without joining. Why do most of the models for engagement include "joining and membership" vs action, output and results of conversation.

The youth are not interested in

  • joining
  • becoming member
  • movement's that have delivered the current world to their door.
They are interested in 
  • power
  • freedom
  • justice
  • global perspectives
  • engagement and voice

Energy Action Coalition continues to pump new ideas and insights into the drive and trends they see on the ground with young diverse and mobilized base. There is good insight into the language, channels and rhythms of youth leadership that are very important to heed.

Facebook as a Financial Platform?

There are big changes going on at facebook that will reshape the ways nonprofits will be able to use and leverage the platform.  The biggest of these changes is the launch of some “gift” tools for your social network. These changes seem little at first “who cares if you can buy a song for a friend” but anyone that watched ITunes, Skype, Amazon and online donations scale up realizes that getting people to cough up credit card for credits is the biggest hurdle in ultimately freeing people from money.

The more that facebook users get used to buying little bits of things online, using their credits, and making transactions online the easier it will be to help them convert facebook relationships into channels for sending money to your charity and campaign.

I expect online donations to charities and groups with “pages” will grow proportionally with the amount of total exchanges on facebook. So seeing them add features like the new “buy a song” for a friend will be a big boost to those of us that look to facebook as a space for organizing relationships with people that use if like the way traditional users focused on their inbox.

While you can currently purchase gifts from non-profits, like Kiva, Project Red, TOMS Shoes, Charity Water and the World Wildlife Fund, Facebook is now also including gifts via the Causes application. So you can make donations to a cause as a gift for your friends for pretty much any cause supported through the app.

Facebook’s Gift Shop Sings A New Tune

Sean Parker: Twitter/Facebook Will Soon Dominate The Web — Not Google.

This resonates with Clay Shirky, Beth Kanter and a bunch of riffs here on network-centric advocacy.  Connecting people is taking over as the major service of the web.    Newspapers provided information. Advocacy groups exist to connect people to each other. Connecting people with more than just text is the big leap. Connect people with voice, video and images. Connecting people to work, laugh, collaborate and create change is the golden opportunity of the next 10 years.


Parker believes we’re shifting from the first phase of the Internet, which was dominated by what he calls “information services” These are companies like Google and Yahoo. But next up to dominate the web will be the “network services” like Facebook and Twitter, he believes.

To be clear, he thinks Google will stay huge and relevant, but it’s dominance will go down because collecting data is less valuable than connecting people, he said.

He went on to talk a bit about the social networking space, which is significant because he helped found Facebook.

Sean Parker: Twitter/Facebook Will Soon Dominate The Web — Not Google.

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Benkler Channel: Remove the Planner without removing the capacity to plan.

Benkler is amazing.  He says things that most of us spend time trying to argue. Complexity and Reach make planning impossible. (BOOM) It always has been but now it is more clear and more important to accept (BOOM). (min 20+...he is on fire)

This is a really rich talk with important nods to the role of motivated people, fairness and group identity in these network models. I see his work as much less related to workplace economics and more related to advocacy and social planning.

I still see the reflection of the seven elements of network functionality in his work. I really like the idea that common language and negotiating "fairness" in the network are linked.

"Life is to complex to settle on the simple model".  He is going after the economic tracking and design model for assessing output capacity and deviation without a centralized planner. Congratulations!  

The rest of us should be working on this in climate change work, agriculture policy, health reform, and the rest of the progressive agenda.

No Excitement About Recovery on Facebook

I have been hunting around for data like “google flu” those shadows cast by real people doing things that provide insight on big trends. I was looking at Facebook Lexicon to see what trend data could show.

I would imagine many people post something about “new job” or their friends congratulate them on “new jobs” via facebook. So I punched it into Lexicon.

You can see the Facebook crowd mirrored the economic collapse with some variation there is just not that many folks posting about “new job” on facebook.   I assume when we see this line start to climb, we will know the job part of the recovery has started.




Make sure to use these tools to access the trends in data that impact your campaign efforts. I find these as interesting insights into the language to use (new jobs is how people talk about it “unemployment” doesn’t even register), the traction major themes are getting (see old post on health care).

The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World -

There is always lots of talk about organizing in a web2.0 world. At the heart of this is “web2.0” is not as much about information as it is about connection and collaboration.  To answer, how do I use technology or leverage web2.0 in my work, the first set of questions should be who do you want to connect to each other? why and to do what?

If you really don’t have an interest in connecting people together or if you can’t think of the ways others can collaborate to help you then you don’t want to operate in a web2.0 environment you just want the new toys on your website.


This was a good definition in WSJ.

But first, a more basic question: What is Web 2.0, anyway? Essentially, it encompasses the set of tools that allow people to build social and business connections, share information and collaborate on projects online. That includes blogs, wikis, social-networking sites and other online communities, and virtual worlds

The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World -

Healthcare little pulse on Facebook: Where is the campaign?

This is a chart of the number of walls that talk about health care in Facebook.

It is surprising that there is so little change over the last several months. If the progressives are actually going to influence the undecided on health care they need to find a way to enable people to bring health care battle out into these edge networks. The movement of people that were behind Obama are not carrying his message on health care into their social networks. It looks like there was more chatter about health care before the election.

The campaign to spread that message on health care is too centralized in the administration. And merely tracking the amount of chatter on the issue demonstrates that it has moved to an inside the Beltway issue.

For each policy initiative the White House needs to make sure that the talking points and facts are presented in a way that they are viral and encourage people who want to spread the to date and clarity on the issues to take these facts into their social networks.


Social Movements are Self-Serve

I have been thinking about the differences between between supporting a campaign and supporting a movement. Is there a difference? Is it in the leadership or vision or direction? Is it in the approach?  How is the environmental movement different from the campaign on toxics?  If your job is to support a movement, how is that different from campaign planning?  Is it possible to think of design goals and challenges to supporting a social movement?

Campaigns focus on creating targeted change and encouraging others to work on the pressure points someone has identified and that someone has figured out the messaging on. Social movements are really about many campaigns and many messages.

Campaigns are “serve me”. Social movements are self-serve. 

In a movement, you need to support leaders and scale by working to attract more people into leadership.  In a campaign, the leadership is known and others opinions on the campaign direction are just a distraction.

It is interesting because that distinction plays out the entire strategy on how you deploy the limited resources you have to make a big difference.  If you are campaigning, you need to be directive, manage your resources and control each investment to move the campaign along a known trajectory.   People within a movement run campaigns. However, if you are building a movement, invest in lowering barriers to participation, invest in viral training, invest in peer to peer connections, invest in tools and services that are self-serve and therefore scalable.

Building self-serve systems requires a completely different design.

We have self-serve banking, appointment scheduling, health-care, self-serve ticketing from airlines, self-serve gasoline, checking bags, shipping, customer support, etc.etc.  Self-serve movements can use these same guidelines for self-serve design to help our thinking about movements. This reading made me really think hard about the campaigns that do this and those that don’t:

Rule #1 Provide a Benefit to Customers

Rule #2 Make Transactions Intuitive

Rule #3 Show Customers What to Do

Rule #4 Choose the Right Locations

Rule #5 Beware of Legacy Systems

Rule #6 Take a Test-Drive

Democracy and  Human Rights to Kiva, DonorsChoose, NPR, Alex’s Lemonade Stand… Movement Approach.  Are you investing in a way that supports the growth of a self-serve movement ? Or are you putting money into campaigns? Both are fine but we to often confuse investing in campaigns as part of movement building.

Shifting the Costs of Organizing to the Community

This riff is interesting. It raises further questions about the inefficiencies arising in the current way that we organize.  The cost of organizing shifting heavily onto those organized.

Political organizing is inefficient to the end user.  They give us support for one issue save polar bears and then the “good organizer” uses the political engagement on the polar bear by extension to advocate for all endangered species work.   You like the GOP stand on the 2nd amendment, next thing you know you are part of a “political base” being leveraged to fight against health care or expected to ignore human rights abuse.  You support a charity as it works with the poor and then hear your numbers counted among the millions against gay marriage.  Parties and institutions have leveraged political capital worse than the wall street traders playing with mortgages. Lackoff, American Environics and others continually point to the complexity of people’s opinions on issues but they are not pointing to the huge institutional interest in convoluting and working to cluster people unnaturally. 

Organizers do this everyday. They leverage past organizing to appear more organized on current issues and to pretend they have proxies to engage in anything centralized leaders and experts believe in-line with group brands.

Markets and networks will continue to squeeze these “inefficiencies” out of our system of organizing.  Information transparency will expose more of this cycle. Additionally, one-off campaigns and adhoc campaigns will demonstrate that they can assemble resources quickly and make a difference (Actblue, Donors Choose, Kiva, Microvolunteering, petition site,  etc.) The “build your own” model to engagement will evolve and eat away at the need to give “vouchers” to let others speak for you.  We will see a flip-flop of political weights.  It used to be that the size of the groups engaged base was what was more important and that these groups of joiners represented the “super-engaged” and the hardened activists. It will ultimately, be that the groups become the repositories for the lazy activists that would rather trusts a brand while the super engaged will actively shop, engage and focus on a variety of issues without needing to sacrifice clarity that is always much more complex then what our groups can represent.   Why will this happen? Because the costs of organizing has now shifted onto the end user AND the most valuable  connections you will respond to come form friends that you have relationships with.


Costs Have Shifted to the Consumer

The shift that has occurred is that the relevant costs to the recipient are now the dominant ones. If you think about sending out mail ten or twenty years ago, the cost was twenty five cents, which the sender had to pay. The intelligence used to sit on the side of the sender, for instance, Capital One carefully figuring out whom to target. But, with electronic communication, the costs have shifted to the recipient, our time, our attention, our cost to deal with the interruptions. My belief is that it’s not primarily a technology play, but it’s primarily a people play where people provide metadata, data where they predict how important their communication is for you, and then a model negotiates, over time. Given their reputation, how much you should be interrupted and whether given the situation you are in, which of course you devise measures much more finely than ever before, you should be interrupted or not.

people & data » featured


With communication being free and instantaneous, attention is increasingly scarce. Economics is the science of scarcity. So, that’s why we need to develop an economic model of communication. Before, scarcity was on the side of the senders (time, money). It was impossible for firms to communicate effectively with large numbers of people at once, and communication/coordination between customers was even more difficult.  There was no way for an individual to effectively reach a broad audience beyond a very limited radius.  But the communication revolution has brought about many changes.  At first glance, this seemed to be great for companies—it’s now almost free to bury customers in ad campaigns!  However, now that the scarcity has shifted to the recipients (time, attention), communication needs to go beyond transactions and move to relationships. In fact, the value of relationships is greater than the value of transactions.

Customer Feedback Meets Ideas for Netroots Nation


Customer Feedback & Ideas for Netroots Nation

Netroots conference using UserVoice to sort questions from the large audience. It will be interesting to see how the questions that emerge are very much like or dislike the questions professional reporters would ask.

Web2.0 meets listserve? This is an embeddable discussion thread?

This is interesting.  It is a discussion thread that can be ported and embedded around the web.  It could have a nice potential for advocacy groups and creating collaboration and collective action between communities.  It would need a few changes to be one of the “killer” apps for those of us in the nonprofit community.

1. Data tracking and ownership. If I embed it in my site (open site)  I get a copy of the names and data of the people who post from my site (build out data and interest in my salesforce tracking of those people).

2. Data sharing. I can agree that the original person who set up the thread also gets a copy of the data like a PTa or Cancer survivor forum with data going to local group and livestrong (then it becomes a viral organizing tool spreading content and collecting data).

3. Full email integration. If someone posts to a topic I have commented on I get sent an email AND I can respond via email without going online. A copy of my reply goes into the online forum (stay in your inbox or on blackberry).

4. Secure hand off. My website  (from a closed community like Ning or a Drupal site) can allow my logged in people to post without signing in again or needing to go online with everyone who is not logged in getting the post via email.

5. Ad free version.


I sent some emails to the developers. This looks interesting make sure you play.


Associated Knowledge: Honest Signals in Music

We evolved for a few million years before developing language and another chunk of time before we started developing text and the written word. We are hardwired as a social animal just like ants, bees and monkeys. What are those threads that speak to all of us at that deeper level? Bobby McFerrin shows one of them here.  

As we do communications efforts on campaigns, we need to think carefully about ALL the channels we use to connect and listen to our audience. Most of our issue movements don’t do enough work to organize art, music and image that resonate and harmonize us with our supporters.  (This video made me think of all the art in the Obama campaign or the image masters form the early part of the Bush years.) 

Campaigns, organizers and communications strategy need to make use of art, image and music to slip under the fences that people build in their perceptions. I want to see those campaigns that use the image to frame.  i would like to see art and professional photographers talk about the influence of good art on a campaign.

Great video from World Science Festival link from Associated Knowledge

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

MarketingSherpa: New Chart: Information Sources for Large Purchase Decisions Changing

This is interesting.  The way people are making people complex purchases is changing. I would assume this is a not only a reflection of the economic times but also of the interest in the information and the amount of information that a buyer needs to feel armed with before they can make such a decision. I think it is really telling that virtual trade shows, information websites, social media are becoming so prominent. It will not surprise me that donors, volunteers and activists are going to have the same types of appetite for information as they consider issues that are very important to them.

It will be most interesting to see how virtual fence and virtual trade shows are mimicked in advocacy and issue space.



SUMMARY: Driven by economic circumstances, the buying process for large and complex purchases is changing. Marketers who are aware of changing buyer behaviors, such as the use of information resources, will be better able to align their selling process with the buying process to improve effectiveness.

MarketingSherpa: New Chart: Information Sources for Large Purchase Decisions Changing

Problems Campaigns Face: Riffing from PDF

We are in a unique moment of people organizing. At this time, our culture becomes both increasingly tied together and fragmented (danah boyd). Organizers dreamed for years to be able to reach millions of people (YouTube) and they pined for the day thousands of allies could collaborate in synchronizing efforts (Iranelection ish) to agitate for change of culture, industry or policy.

Now we sit in among vast networks of supporters, allies, friendsters and professionals (1000+ at PDF) as committed to our issues as we are, but working together alludes us. change remains just out of reach.

We know much about campaign planning (spitfire strategies) and communications strategy but the underlying alignment mechanisms for marshalling and managing the power in campaigns have shifted beneath our feet (who is momsrising…go Roz!). We are transitioning from an organizational-centric world dominated by good management, ownership, hierarchies and “the firm”  to a network-centric world driven by leadership, transparency, reach and sharing (Ny311, government spending dashboard).

Leaders in broadcasting (newspaper) are being replaced by those focused on creating connections (craigslist). Both will always exist, but there is no doubt networks and network organizing represents a transformative trend.

Today, as movements organize they need a mix of both traditional campaign and communications strategy coupled with network strategy. (Obama)

Common Problems that Many Campaigns Face.

Experience demonstrates that these strategies are less effective without complementing each other. (Gates on education ) The interplay of campaign, communications and network capacities influence the planning implementation and success of each.

Coalitions, collections of groups, and crowds of people often lack the clear vision, campaign objectives and communications plans (PDF…although Sunlight stuff is a nice direction) that help identify the critical networks for further engagement, direction and collaboration. However, even when like minded and allied leaders can agree to connect and collaborate without a unified vision the emergent networks rarely develop the functionally collaborating infrastructure (Green Group) so that the participants can self-organize a clear vision, campaign objectives and subsequently develop campaign and communications plans.

In both scenarios, the coalition without clear objectives and the campaign without the functional network, basic levels of network infrastructure are needed to move forward. However, time after time organizers get stuck with little budget and no plan to solve the fundamental dysfunction in the networks the campaign depends on to achieve success.

The lack of budget and plan stems from a mix of both planning and management issues. There is often an unspoken lack of trust of the base and an unwillingness to trust allies. Yet, there is little investment in the systems that would build performance of far flung collaborative team ( fostering trust in the base).

Organizers that don't trust people to be as committed as themselves therefore design processes to get mild users to support the most committed rather than to actually engage and work effectively with the many-many-many less committed activists. There is a lack of diversity in the "committed base" and most effort is focused on recruiting a more diverse set of people into the same mindset rather than diversifying the agenda and the definition of what the movement is committed to achieve. Many leaders are oddly proud to be disconnected from trends in culture, communication and technology.(not at PDF)

The combined effects of these management biases and systemic gaps create a mess and complete lack of alignment between objectives, organizing, revenue plans, budgets, vision, communications, network organizing and technology plans. The resulting tossed salad of tech tools duct taped onto an organizing effort with no intention of listening, learning, serving and adapting makes a mockery of bottoms-up ownership. (thinking PickensPlan Ning)

On the planning side, many groups have even acknowledged that they are now entering a phase of network building, “taking a network approach” or that they are dependent on networks to create change but when pushed they have no framework for even discussing why, how or what are the elements that make an advocacy network functional.

Unfortunately, groups have no process or limited capacity to identify these conflicts and gaps. As organizers, they have limited experience bridging bottoms up discussions with mangers, funders, planners. Their is not enough circulation of the stories and theories of change that could realign the policy, network and communications activities.

Organizers and tech builders don’t have the materials, work process to help staff better understand organizing in the age connectivity and what is developed by foundations is disregarded and by consultants is trademarked.

We can look at all the pretty tools and see all the activity (online and off) but until the network builders and technologists explain the shift in logic that occurs to more of the organizers embedded across our movement most of us agitating for change will remain as we were only with better websites. 

I had a blast in NYC at PDF.  It was great to take time to step back and look at the broader trends and the ways those trends influence work at Green Media Toolshed and the training I do with Netcentric Campaigns. These events like PDF make me realize how fast the technology is moving in shifting the logic and thinking of the technology leaders and the gap that is emerging between that edge and traditional organizers and current leaders of organizations. Tags:

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YouTube Stats from PDF

This came via email from PDF. It is a statistic that I use in presentations.  According to this the YouTube network is more active than I have been giving it credit for:

currently pouring onto YouTube alone — about 200,000 three-minute videos added every day — is the equivalent of 385 always-on TV channels. In July 2008 in the United States, approximately 91 million viewers looked at nearly 5 billion videos on YouTube.

Amazing. This can only be organized by the network of viewers filter those 200,000 videos. 

I am looking forward to PDF this year.

True Spin: a National Conference on Media Relations for Progressives

I”ll be there. It is always a great event.

A PR Conference for Progressives

Some of America’s best progressive PR practitioners are gathering for two days of panels, practical workshops, networking, and fun.

This conference brings together flacks from progressive advocacy groups around the country to exchange ideas and learn new and creative PR tactics.

Officials from giant corporations meet all the time to share their latest and greatest media relations strategies. This is our turn. It’s the only national conference of its kind in the country.

After the conference ends on Friday afternoon, stick around for a weekend in the Colorado high country. President's Day on Monday, Jan. 25, gives you an extra day to have fun in Colorado.

True Spin: a National Conference on Media Relations for Progressives

VizThink Blog >>Creating Powerful Presentations with Nancy Duarte

This is a really good presentation.  Nancy provides a quick overview of strategy, tips and guides that I have picked up giving hundreds of presentation.  It is really solid. If you need to do  presentations on a regular basis I would strongly recommend this.


Nancy Duarte, principal of Duarte Design and one of the guru’s behind Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth presentation , took over 135 people through her advice & thoughts on how to create powerful presentations.

Miss it?
You’re in luck! We’ve packaged it up and posted it below for viewing at your leisure.

VizThink Blog » Blog Archive » Webinar: Creating Powerful Presentations with Nancy Duarte


Here is the campaign and lobby tool for group of collaborators working on a project.  I am trying to hack out some case studies of people that are using it for advocacy please let me know if you have a story to share.

Group message broadcasting for Twitter

Problem: Malcolm, Zoe, Kaylee, Simon, and River all work together on the same web development team. They are avid Twitter users and want a similar way to broadcast quick messages and updates to everyone on their team. Since these messages may contain confidential information, the team doesn't want them published to their public Twitter timelines or to any followers who are not part of the team.

Solution: GroupTweet allows Malcolm and the gang to send messages via Twitter that are instantly broadcasted privately to only the team members.


Netcentic View - Globalism Goes Viral -

Here is a great riff by Brooks spelling out the case for a network-centric approach to building response systems to mange change in the 21st century. It is the same uncertainty and need for experimentation that makes the case for netcentric change organizing.

the decentralized approach has coped reasonably well with uncertainty. It is clear from the response, so far, that there is an informal network of scientists who have met over the years and come to certain shared understandings about things like quarantining and rates of infection. It is also clear that there is a ton they don’t understand.

A single global response would produce a uniform approach. A decentralized response fosters experimentation.

The bottom line is that the swine flu crisis is two emergent problems piled on top of one another. At bottom, there is the dynamic network of the outbreak. It is fueled by complex feedback loops consisting of the virus itself, human mobility to spread it and environmental factors to make it potent. On top, there is the psychology of fear caused by the disease. It emerges from rumors, news reports, Tweets and expert warnings.

The correct response to these dynamic, decentralized, emergent problems is to create dynamic, decentralized, emergent authorities: chains of local officials, state agencies, national governments and international bodies that are as flexible as the problem itself.

Swine flu isn’t only a health emergency. It’s a test for how we’re going to organize the 21st century. Subsidiarity works best.

Op-Ed Columnist - Globalism Goes Viral -

Ode Magazine : Microjustice: Helping those who are excluded from the legal system

This is another absolutely beautiful example of networks connecting. I love the ideas of Microfinance, now morphing into a microjustice movement.

They share big but not insurmountable upfront costs. They share connections with others (via the micro program to others that solving the problem is trivial. They share a capacity to have the beneficiary monitored cheaply  ( via the internet) and repay the investment over time based on success.

What else can we expect to see….Microteaching, microhealthcare,  micromovement building, microvolunteering, microcopyediting, microinternet development, microjobplacement… 


Really brilliant…

When she started Microjustice Bolivia, Van Nispen tot Sevenaer worked with Anne Marie van Swinderen, a microfinance consultant with Triodos Facet, a large microfinance organization associated with Triodos Bank, an ethical financial institution based in the Netherlands. “The similarity between microjustice and microfinance is largely a way of thinking,” Van Swinderen says, “to not look at poor people as victims. Just to be very businesslike serves them much better than to always treat them like poor people who need support. Almost all development programs create a dependency that is not so desirable.”

The Microjustice Initiative may still be small but its approach reflects a big change in the way non-governmental organizations think about poverty, law and development. In the past, policymakers tried to improve legal systems in developing nations by working with national governments on court reform. Now, many say it’s also necessary to empower people directly at the grassroots level. Even the UN is taking note. In 2005, it hosted the Commission for the Legal Empowerment of the Poor, which found that more than 4 billion people live outside the legal framework of the modern state. Without effective legal protection, these people are vulnerable to losing their property, small businesses or income from labor, and remaining trapped in poverty. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is sponsoring microjustice-like projects in 10 countries to address the legal needs of the poor.

Ode Magazine : Microjustice: Helping those who are excluded from the legal system

Power Shift 2009 Connected and Twittering

As powershift is in town. They are going to be one of the more connected movements to organize on the Capital that I have seen. Here is just a little summary of the ways these 11,000 activists are going to swarm together. Here is an interesting step-by-step for how people can plug in.

The 140 character updates you will be able to watch on the projection on site or on the Power Shift ’09 website will be coming from observers both at the youth climate summit and remote commentators via the internet. The fast growing service, which should reach 1 million users by March 1, allows for the sharing of observations as well as conversation between users using event tags such as “#powershift09” or by referencing another user such as “@powershift09” in your posts or “tweets”. Consequently, by simply “tagging” your thoughts or observations with a hashtag (#powershift09) a post becomes searchable for somebody trying to find out what people are saying about Power Shift on Twitter.
However, Twitter is only one component of how the conference will be integrated virtually for people who were not able to make the trip physically. For example, the keynote addresses will be streamed live for people to watch over the internet. Then people will be able to comment either via Twitter or discuss more deeply through the Discussion section of the Power Shift Facebook Fan Page. In addition, through the photo-sharing service, attendees will be able upload pictures to their Flickr accounts, tag them with “powershift09”, and then they will cycled through public projections at the conference and through a Flickr application on our Facebook Fan Page.
So just remember to tag your photos and tweets and you too can be part of the conversation: #powershift09.

Power Shift 2009