Mend the Nets. Network Discussions and Tuna.

We need to continually elevate the field of network building by engaging deeply with other people that are also supporting uplifting socail and policy change thru building networks. Lately,  I am interested in conversations that use disciplined frameworks to look at the desired throughput of a network and then use that to define the scale and structure necessary to deliver those results.

Additionally, I love digging into projects that seek a rationale consistancy about the nature of the  "nodes of the network." And from a starting points discussion of throughput and nodes, look at the protocols for connecting the nodes and the ways to build the functional capacity and strength of those connections.

  Tony Proscio's riff on a presentation by the president of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, John Ettinger, arguing that when foundations group their grantees into networks it “may lead to quicker learning and more efficient operations.” Or, Tony quite rightly points out, sometimes “it leads nowhere at all.”

It’s a painful truth. Networks sometimes fail―or at least fail to meet their full potential. The good news is that when networks fail or struggle, there are identifiable (and correctable) reasons. 

 I am looking forward to continuing the discussion and suggest folks check out Tony's pecies and the recorded presentation at Duke (follow the links below for more of the conversation.) 


Cross-posted atHome and Netcentric Advocacy


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...) 












Occupy & The NY Department of Education. The Peoples' Mic. Who Structures the Conversation?

The people want to be heard.  It is interesting that the officals are interested in breaking people into 14 rooms for feedback.(You can hear the proposal in the background of the first 30 seconds) However, the people want to be heard (by media and the community) not just the leaders at the table.

Rock On! People without mics still have voice. there is also intersting background thread of discussion on the youtube page.  Democracy is not always smooth but the people in that room must feel empowered and the people at the table not so much. Which is the point. 

Here is the media coverage...


The thugs win again

New York Post - ‎Oct 27, 2011‎
But a group of 200 teachers and Occupy Wall Street backers came out to crash the party. Calling themselves Occupy the DOE, they flooded Seward Park's auditorium and shouted down Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott as he tried to brief parents on the new ...

Protesters Affiliated With Occupy Wall Street Disrupt Department Of Education ...

Huffington Post - ‎Oct 25, 2011‎
"If you want your voice heard, all you have to do is say 'mic check.'" The approximately 200 protesters, loosely affiliated with a new public education committee offshoot of OccupyWall Street, called for increased participation and democracy in ...

What Do You Think of Walcott's Parent Involvement Plan?

New York Times - ‎21 hours ago‎
What do you think of Mr. Walcott's plan? And what services do you think the city needs to provide to get parents more involved? Further, is the parent coordinator an effective resource for drawing in parents? Parent coordinators, what do you need to ...

Department of Education: #Occupied

Our Schools NYC (press release) - ‎Oct 26, 2011‎
And the Occupy Wall Street Public Education committee already has plans for a People's General Assembly on Public Education on Nov. 7th at DOE headquarters. So, for now at least, the People's Mic appears to be winning over an unaccountable, ...

Teachers and Parents Occupy Education Meeting

The Epoch Times - ‎Oct 25, 2011‎
That voice echoed many others that are concerned with the DOE, Chancellor Walcott, and Mayor Bloomberg. The protesters took turns speaking via a "people's mic," in a meeting similar to those in held Zuccotti Park by the Occupy Wall St. protesters. ...

Education Panel Meeting Disrupted By "Occupy" Protesters

NY1 - ‎Oct 25, 2011‎
Called the "People's Microphone," the protesters' call-and-repeat chants, now a trademark of the Occupy Wall Street movement, derailed the Department of Education meeting. Walcott continued to introduce the scheduled speaker, despite the chanting, ...

Protest derails DOE meeting on curriculum after just minutes

GothamSchools - ‎Oct 25, 2011‎
But as Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and the standards' architect, David Coleman, took the stage at Seward Park High School, protesters aligned with the Occupy movement launched a chorus of complaints via “the people's mic.” “Mic check! ...

Walcott Pledges Measures to Increase Parents' Involvement

New York Times - ‎Oct 26, 2011‎
New York City's Department of Education will create a parent academy and eventually measure how well public schools interact with their students' parents, Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott announced in a speech on Wednesday. ...


Map of a Movement : Where are leaders working on childhood obesity? Are you on the map?

One of the projects I am working on is focused on addressing the issue of childhood obesity.(learn more about the issue at RWJF) 

During the interviews and assessment phase before the project, we interviewed lots of leaders in the movement working to reverse the epidemic that wanted to know who are the other leaders in their cities.  We heard "If we only had a map".... when we decided to build the map, we wanted to make it so everyone could "own it" this is their map.

We went the extra mile (ok 10 miles) to make it like a youtube video. This map can be embedded on lots of sites (including your own). You can just grab the code (copy) and paste it on any site.

As people join the movement, they are added to totals of supporters on the maps all over the internet. As leaders join the movement, they are added to the map with a way to contact them all over the internet.

There are a few advanced features like the ability to customize the map size, add your logo or change the zoom (if you work on any of the issues related to childhood obesity or want to support those that do please start spreading the map far and wide.)

This map is pretty netcentric. As it creates new pathways for people to connect to each other, it creates a shared resource, and it becomes a feedback tool for showing how and where the movement is getting organized to reverse the epidemic.  

Let me know what you think? How many places will we see this map distributed in 6 months?


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.

Annie Leonard tells the Story of Stuff. She also describes dependence on networks.

In case it has been a few months since your last peek at the let me continue to encourage you to think about the way is an asset for an entire network of activists.

Watch the interview below to hear about the ways Annie by design has "pushed the power to organize" out to others. 

The resources that Story of Stuff team creates, the stories Annie tells, and the clarity to the vision for so many partners continues to add capacity to a network of allies. Annie's effort is a great example of the ways they are designing to be a network services to a cause. She talks a bit about it as well in the video. 

The story behind 'The Story of Stuff' from JD Lasica on Vimeo.


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.  


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.

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.


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

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.

More Network Wisdom from Shack/Slum Dwellers International

I continue to be amazed at the depth of network rituals developed by SDI. In a context of little resources SDInet has made the operation form the ground up based on principals that are very network-centric.  If you look, there are elements of all the key components of the network in the “Rituals”.  Here is an example of network culture, network vision, communication grid, social ties building, management of shared resources, leadership building, and feedback in one program area. 

From their website..

Horizontal exchange, then, is the primary learning strategy of SDI. Participants within the savings networks learn best from each other - when one savings group has initiated a successful income-generating project or has replanned a settlement or has built a toilet block, SDI enables groups to come together and learn from intra-network achievements. The community exchange process builds upon the logic of 'doing is knowing' and helps to develop a collective vision. As savers travel from Khayelitsha to Greenpoint or Nairobi to Colombo, the network is unified and strengthened - not only at a street level but between towns, regions and provinces, and nation-states. In this way, locally appropriate ideas get transfered into the global millieu through dialogue amongst slumdweller partners.

Community-to-community exchanges allow participants to see themselves and their peers as experts, thereby breaking isolation to create a unified voice of the urban poor, reclaiming sites of knowledge that have frequently been co-opted by professionals, and strengthening solidarity to increase critical mass. The pool of knowledge generated through exchange programmes becomes a collective asset of the SDI network - so that when slumdwellers meet with external actors to debate development policies, they can draw from international examples, forcing government and other stakeholders to listen.

Shack/Slum Dwellers International

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 -

CoTweet Cohort - User Discussion Forum on Steroids

This looked pretty interesting.

This company called COTWEET ( twitter tool for companies) offered beta users access to its services. (I currently use . While beta services are not impressive, Cotweet also offered users the opportunity to join a “cohort”. (See below).

It looks like participants in the cohort are going to be facilitated through a discussion of the product, and product use on a regular basis so that they can provide each other with tips and tricks. The company learns as the customers learn. Cotweet gets credit for connecting their users into a peer-to-peer network and taking advantage of the energy around twitter.

I can’t imagine a similar model working in all products (TurboTax cohort anyone?) .  But when there is a pent-up demand and new “open ground” no experts or right or wrong answers (such as in the social marketing space)  this cohort idea seems like it's going to be an effective additional customer service.

I have signed up to be a part of a cohort so that I can better understand Jerry's methodology. I also want to see how different our experiences in the nonprofit sector, compared to some of these big corporate clients. 

The CoTweet Cohort allows participants to share knowledge, experiences and ideas about the effective use of social media among themselves through bi-monthly conference calls and an online forum for ongoing communications.  The cohort will also provide ideas for future development of the CoTweet platform.

The CoTweet Cohort will be facilitated by Jerry Michalski, a highly respected technology consultant. Based in San Francisco, Michalski is a member of CoTweet’s Advisory board.

According to Jerry, “Twitter offers companies a brand new way to connect that’s not as expensive as a call center, as indirect as a blog or as opaque to the world as CRM systems are. Tweets happen in public. But as traffic increases, employees can step on one another’s toes, confusing customers. CoTweet is designed to prevent that, creating a smooth experience on both sides. This Cohort is where we’ll fine-tune that process.”

In theory, I would love to organize a customer-service cohort around Green Media Toolshed or the work that we do with any of our other campaigns or clients. 

Would GMT’s communications people join a cohort on pitching bloggers? Or reaching out to journalists?

CoTweet — How business does Twitter



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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 Moving money into SC schools like Ty’Sheoma Bethea’s!

Donor’s Choose is opening a money pipeline into the classrooms in SC.  teachers in these classes want beanbag chairs, rugs for cozy corners for reading, prewriting sets for kids with motor skill problems, etc.  Teacher requests directly from SC classrooms.

Education in the spotlight: Support classrooms like Ty’Sheoma Bethea’s!

By Katie Wednesday, Feb 25, 2009 at 5:44pm

If you were watching President Obama’s address to Congress last night, Ty’Sheoma Bethea probably stole your heart, like she stole ours. The eight-grader from Dillon, South Carolina was in attendance because of the letter she wrote to Congress, about her school’s terrible condition.

Ty’Sheoma wrote, “As you know, we have a lot of problems with our school.  President Obama has visit our school and were able to see why we should need a new school.  Some of the promblems are, we can not afford anything so we can not go on school trips or do school activities unlike other schools…”

She concluded her letter with, “We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congress men like yourself and one day president….”  To make a difference in high-poverty South Carolina classrooms like Ty’Sheoma’s, you can start here.

All the best,
Katie & Alex Carolinas

image Blog: Education in the spotlight: Support classrooms like Ty’Sheoma Bethea’s!

Network Flower Power: Project BudBurst - Participate!

Networking the flower people to report buds and flower changes to document global warming.  This is Distributed Flower research (do i hear an Iphone app?) Network research not targeting Mars (clickworkers) or birds 11,000,000 (birdcount)

  Project BudBurst Activity Guide.

1) Select and identify your plant using the plant list or by geographic area.

2) Describe the site where your plant is located. This includes finding the latitude and longitude of your site.

3) Determine which phenophase (phenological stage) you are looking for (i.e. Budburst/First Leaf, First Flower). For help, refer to the plant descriptions found in the plant list.

4) Begin observations (before expected time of budding or flowering)!

5) Report your observations online.

Register online with Project BudBurst to save your observation sites and plants that you are monitoring throughout this year and for coming years. This allows you to report the phenological events as they occur each week!

Project BudBurst - Participate!


Don’t Look at the News. Don’t Watch C-span

I love this site in just 10 seconds I get a snap shot of all the words on the congressional record for the day.  This is all the speeches, bills and who is talking about them.

What does this image tell you in a glance?


Capitol Words

1. It looks like California and Texas are discussing jobs and economy.  It looks like the states in the middle are pretty quite (are the GOP members not active in the committees?)

Wish list:

  • It would be cool if there was a red state / blue state version to see how they differ.
  • It would also be cool to look at the differences between D and R.
  • I look forward to a moveable timeline
  • I would like to be able to compare word clouds of politicians.
  • I also think it would be good to be able to click on the word for a report of the references. The trend is very cool.
  • links to advocacy letters or public comment periods associated with those words.
  • an improved and larger widget.
  • an ability to normalize the color maps based on the percentage of all things said by their state (CA and TX) dominate because of delegation size. (for example is it by % that TX talks most about the environment?
  • some way that I can grab a page like MD( and keep with a timeline on the top of a local political page (then have a blog and commenting under it)  or a word ( see the workds around the work environment and the legislators talking about it in a block of time.
  • ability to search phrases. Tags: ,,

Internet access for the Unemployed: Netcentric Recovery Plan

Picking up on a riff from yesterday. I have been thinking about the issue of serving the unemployed and reconnecting the economy after the financial system reboots.How is this recovery going to be different from 1930's?

Unemployment benefits should be bundled with 12 months of Internet access.  It is part of the investment in the transitioning worker. It is a critical part of the modern "safety net". It will create jobs.

Why should we do this?

  • People need to job hunt.
  • the unemployed need to interact with government agencies and services and online access would reduce government servicing costs.
  • It would help nonprofits and food banks squeeze more efficiency in the way the coordinate delivery of services and assessing needs. 
  • It would create an intensive online training program (from basic computer skills (how to email, network and search) to all the free and more advanced training online.
  • employees could stay in touch with previous coworkers (DHL alumni group on Linked-in) and family at reduced costs.
  • it would up our workforces competitiveness and prepare the unemployed to collaborate on projects for new jobs.
  • the new free web services (gmail,google docs, skype, etc.) enable productivity in the cloud. so event thee $39 computer or the web books would meet basic needs.
  • it would open up lots of new self-organizing ( and new business start up. 
  • It is important for the families that are trying to figure out housing availability, stay connected with schools and teachers.
  • the unemployed on the program (using the govt access pages) could be asked to review elements of the recovery activity, congressional budgets, state budgets, etc.(would probably find enough mistakes to pay for the whole program)
  • when companies want to rehire or pull from their former workforce they could easily reactivate the latent parts of our workforce.
  • Emotional support, entertainment, etc.
  • They could cut off other services (like cable and phone) to save money.
  • It would generate a new revenue and industry from states for web businesses that could target reengaging the unemployed. 
  • If it shortens unemployment of each persons by just a few weeks it would pay for itself. (480 per person per year).
  • It would accelerate the use of the stimulus dollars, tax programs, etc.
  • It would shorten the amount of time it takes to find the unemployed and fill new positions (saving business money)
  • It would keep the unemployed a more powerful political force.
  • It is a manageable cost program. (worst case = 40 a month * 4 million unemployed * 12 = 2 billion ).   The faster the unemployed find work and get into positions where they create value others are willing to purchase the faster the economy recovers. 
  • Other ideas?

Economic Recovery Models in Depression2.ouch

I am not an economics guy. Most of what i am picking up on the economic recovery planning comes from the Washington Post, online outlets, blogs, frontline and the random cable news chatter.

So there are definitely, circles of serious people running a different conversation about the recovery which I am not a part of. However, in everything I read and hear there is no talk about the role of networks in the recovery.

The vision I am struggling with is how our global network can quickly reconfigure and workaround problems.

It seems as the economic modeling for recovery and growth are running off models developed in the great depression (3 to 5 years of slow 2% growth) and the many economic down turns since.  Those models are wrong.

I think everyone (including Greenspan, Paulson, Bernanke and all the most minds of Wall Street ) did not see this global economy unraveling so fast. They all knew there was some BS going on and that we were in for a “pop” but the scope and speed of this crash has caught everyone by surprise.

This depression and the crash have been accelerated by the connectivity and interdependence of humanity (it all lost balance in early 2008 (oil, food, then money). We can see that now but few predicted it (AIG) (Lehman Brothers).

Some articles I have seen, talk about the crash not as a run on the bank (30s) or a crash of production (70s) but a run on the network.

In September and October, the banks and everyone else just freaked out at the complexity of the system and “pulled out the trust”. I write more on the cascading failure of the economy here but my thought patterns are not just focused on the crash. I am trying to figure out how this network gets rewired.

If the crash did not follow models, why do we think the economic recovery models follow traditional recovery trajectories?

In the networked age shouldn't trust, hope, confidence travel just as fast as the crash?

I am not talking about some new business, or new innovation.  I am thinking that once the basics of the economy are fixed can’t we expect the global network to roar back to life. The complexity and interconnectedness of our economy still has an upside.

The connections of world economy have already been built. They are now "empty" of commerce and capital. These networks are in some places "breakinimageg down" as companies fold BUT the logistics chains, relationships and networks of people are "weak ties" they should be cheap to maintain (for example if you and I worked in different parts of the world for the same company and got canned tomorrow,  we could rebuild our ties and reconnect much cheaper than in the past (70's, 30s).  (DHL Alumni as an example) How do we agitate the network channels to strengthen and stay connected even though the commerce function is temporarily dead? 

 The finance system is broken but I also think there is another scenario ( a positive black swan) that accelerates our adaptability to this crisis on orders of magnitude of difference from previous depressions and recessions.

If it is possible to fire up and jumpstart the network again then a stimulus plan needs to focus on that network effect.  

The stimulus package can't just focus on the jobs...(network actors) or the finance (pumping currency into the old pipelines) the right model needs to target creating and fostering the connectivity of the network so as the engines start again the entire network flashes to life.  In these times, we should invest in the capacity to help workers stay connected ((internet connections, $39 webbook and free online training as part of unemployment benefits?) 

I am mostly interested in making sure that recovery/stimulus/philanthropy/management efforts acknowledge the huge roll network infrastucture can play in pulling out of this tailspin and that somebody think on the macro scale how to charge up the network to deliver the acceleration that was not available in 30's and 70' etc.

No previous collapse had the internet as a cultural infrastructure for working around challenges. In the past, we needed business firms and government agencies to work around the challenges and reorganize production. 

We no longer need that.  We need ways to help the disconnected get better connected.  We need pools of money for adhoc teams to create products. We need to invest in consistent reweaving of workers and laid off workers so they can reboot their own production of services of value  (another example )

We may likely crash and be stuck in a long and deep economic depression (then go to the wiki on nonprofit Plans for the economic crisis) OR lets assume there is hope out there and start to figure out the recovery with a little network assist or network boost.  Creating a “surprise at the speed” the entire economy rebooted.

To do that, we are going to need leaders to really think about the network framework and the roll it can play in enabling the network of global humanity to work around the nonsense in the financial system.  We are going to need aggressive sharing of government services and a willingness of government and businesses to focus on sustaining  collaborative capacity of others as part of their own survival strategy.

This is one of the blog posts that seems like it needs weeks more work to end properly but i just got to get back to sleep.



The New Assumptions : Plans for the Economic Crisis

At this stage, it is clear that nonprofit and advocacy groups are also headed for extraordinarily difficult financial times. The cash crunch for the advocacy movement will be as bad as we can imagine and far worse than we can easily manage. We need a plan for how to remain effective.

We should all begin to operate with new assumptions:

1. We are going to be poorer nation. We are going to have less money to work with and we are going to be paying off debts and expenses for years to come. We must squeeze value out of every asset we have built or purchased.The decline in the national economy is going to reduce the cash flow into the advocacy movement by between 20 and 50 percent. Almost every organization will lose staff. The progressive advocacy movement at the end of 2010 will look very different from the movement at the end of 2008. all the best "recovery plans do not really mean "go back to 2007" they mean avoid 1929.

2. Unlike large, centrally managed corporations, the movement is going to dissolve in unpredictable and erratic ways. The sector’s many externalities, as well as its unregulated and dysfunctional reward and punishment systems, will bring about a rapid, non-linear unraveling of capacity. This means that the most effective groups might not survive, and the least effective groups will not automatically disappear. Nor is there a model to predict which group, partner, campaign staff, or policy wonk is going to be around next month. No one knows what regional offices national groups will close. The groups are not coordinating reductions. The talent and assets that remain are going to be scattered across the landscape. The movement will be left with a bunch of loose threads. The economic crash is going to require a sustained effort to repair and reconnect these threads--the elements of our movement--in order to continue to mount successful campaigns.

3. The deepening recession, environmental changes, political shifts, technological evolution and the ongoing wars will combine to create movement toward rapid change and cultural instability. There will be a quickening of political, cultural and individual behavioral change. For at least two years, the federal government is going to be dominated by Democrats. They are going to be able to move legislation and government action quickly on issues like health care, energy and public works. Opportunities to influence significant events and policies are going to come in tighter and more intense waves.

These assumptions will drive the way leaders in the nonprofit sector plan their organizational budgets. In the advocacy and social change movement, however, we rely on networks in addition to organizations to lead and drive change. Just as managers are creating plans for their organizations, the networks need plans to rationally deal with the reductions in overall capacity while also capitalizing on the opportunities that these disruptions will produce. We need something that is not “more of the same,” only smaller.

If we can ask the energy industry to remake itself, if we can ask health care industry to transform, if we can assume the auto industry will be totally different ...where is the vision for our own sector?

The network plan should take advantage of the technology and organizing tools developed in the last several years to manage a constructive reorganization and establish a new model for organizing that is smarter and more effective than the current model primarily dominated by large silos of competing institutions.

Join the planning discussion over on a wiki I set up to kick start the conversations

Road Runner or Wile E Coyote?

One of my board members recently sent me a note that analogized the financial situation to the “Wile E Coyote Effect.”

You might remember the coyote running along and not realizing that he has run off the cliff.  He keeps running suspended magically by denial. He stops, feels around his feet for the ground, and then looks down to find the ground has disappeared beneath him.

As nonprofit leaders, here we stand. Some of us are stopped on the edge of the cliff, some have kept running and are suspended way out over the cliff, and some of us are holding the anvil over our heads. 

Our movement has received a lot of our 2008 budget that has the Economic Crisis hit us so late in the year it is difficult for us to act fairly project 2009 budgets.  additionally there is a lot of confusing information circulating out there on how philanthropy changes in an economic crisis.

The big overall studies are misleading to people in the advocacy and campaign space. In 2001, the last big recession the crash was created in part by terrorism. The philanthropy and overall numbers of giving stayed neutral or went up because people gave more to 9/11 relief funds and they started going to church in huge numbers again.   I would be interested in more studies that tease out the type of giving targeted at anything except advocacy and campaign related donations during previous economic downturns. 

I'm focused on this because I believe it is really important to networks.The entire movement is not going to go out of business. Many of our groups are not go out of business. There may even be a growth in the number of groups that are formed as people with the skills get laid-off from larger groups, and there are very low barriers to starting groups, and the tools that they have in a new start up are identical to the ones that they had in the large institution. The movement may go the number of groups engaged in the advocacy. In places where there is money, we will see a swarming towards it. Some of that swarming will come from large institutions that shift message or mission or creep over to grab market share of the money that exist or the available people who are laid off from these other institutions will set up new brands in the niche to compete for money. 

Focused on the aggregate number because there will be a network effect associated with the economic downturn. Most managers can handle a reduction from 20 up to 40%. It is hard, but with focus on the books and asking everyone to contribute a manager teams really squeeze an organization on travel budgets, new purchases, staff layoffs, benefit reductions, meeting cost, new initiatives and cut program expansions.  It is painful but it is manageable. just like the American banks were able to hold back money, reduce their exposure to risk, and cut costs.

The problem is that if everyone goes through this at the same time within a particular network you can create a network collapse which exacerbates the problem. if you are running a national campaign on park funding and you work with it coalition or network of thousands groups, or 100 groups. With each one contributing several hours of staff time per month to the campaign, how do you manage a reduction of 20 to 40% when you are not in charge of which resources stay and which ones go? how do you manage when you don't know which of the 40 people out of the hundreds that you work with, are not to be here next month for your big campaign? 

These are the network effects of a downturn and the overall numbers are the numbers that matter when you're thinking about network planning.

There are going to be great opportunities for change in 2009. In the economic crisis will create opportunities and create problems. It will create these problems and opportunities for groups and for our networks.

On the network level, are we prepared to take advantages of the opportunities that will emerge for our advocacy networks because of the downturn?   On the network level, do we have a plan to avoid the obstacles that this crisis will create?

My sense is that there is a lot of thinking around how to take advantage of the network opportunities but there is little planning or thinking around mitigating the network effects of the downturn.

join the planning conversation. (it is a wetpaint wiki site)

Say ...Goodbye Bush! - Network Salute to "W." (GoodbyeBush) tag!

Mother Jones is collecting 30-second YouTube “Goodbye, Bush” videos over the holidays.  As you make your riff please use the TAG "goodbyeBush"


If you had 30 seconds of goodbye face time with George Bush, what would you say?

Here’s what to do: First, look into your webcam/ other videocam for 30 seconds and start talking! Or be creative: point your camera where you think it needs to go, and tell the story of “Goodbye Bush!”

Second, put the video on YouTube labeled “Mother Jones Goodbye Bush video.”

And then email the link to Deadline is Jan. 5, best videos will win MoJo swag and be featured on the front page of our new website prior to Inauguration Day!

If you know other folks who might like to participate, please pass the word along. ...

Please end your slide show with this. Distributed ask..

Here is an interesting distributed ask (please end your power point with this "one slide")

Here is what you do Talk About It
* Commit 2 minutes to present The One Slide at your next company meeting
 * Share the slide with loved ones over dinner
 * Be able to answer the questions for yourself and for your loved ones
* Answer the five questions on our site
* Encourage others to do the same

It was the network not the Interne

Great riff on the difference between looking at the network vs. using the internet in the Obama campaign.
I'll leave the big picture to those closer to the campaign, but one point I think is key is that it was not the use of the Internet that helped make the campaign successful, it was the building and mobilisation of a network.

Good Riff on Prop 8. The networks start the backlash.

Worth a read... Can the networks channel the energy productively?
Backers of California's Proposition 8, which enshrined a ban on same-sex marriages in the state constitution, scored a narrow victory on November 4th, winning 52.3% of the vote. The immediate impact in California is huge: the invalidation of 18,000 marriages. But that vote didn't put an end to the fierce debate, not even close. People have been protesting Prop 8's success in Los Angeles, San Diego, and, as the LA Times put it, "even Modesto." What was largely a state legal battle seems to be morphing into a national cultural moment, helped along by the web, including Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube.

Yes Men: "War Ends" from the NYTimes. Network Distribution.

November 12, 2008


  * PDF:
  * For video updates:
  * Contact:

Early this morning, commuters nationwide were delighted to find out that while they were sleeping, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had come to an end.

If, that is, they happened to read a "special edition" of today's New York Times.

In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million papers were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged pickup locations, where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass them out on the street.

Articles in the paper announce dozens of new initiatives including the establishment of national health care, the abolition of corporate lobbying, a maximum wage for C.E.O.s, and, of course, the end of the war.

The paper, an exact replica of The New York Times, includes International, National, New York, and Business sections, as well as editorials, corrections, and a number of advertisements, including a recall notice for all cars that run on gasoline. There is also a timeline describing the gains brought about by eight months of progressive support and pressure, culminating in President Obama's "Yes we REALLY can" speech. (The paper is post-dated July 4, 2009.)

"It's all about how at this point, we need to push harder than ever,"
said Bertha Suttner, one of the newspaper's writers. "We've got to make sure Obama and all the other Democrats do what we elected them to do.
After eight, or maybe twenty-eight years of hell, we need to start imagining heaven."

Not all readers reacted favorably. "The thing I disagree with is how they did it," said Stuart Carlyle, who received a paper in Grand Central Station while commuting to his Wall Street brokerage. "I'm all for freedom of speech, but they should have started their own paper."

Get your own at Scribd or explore others:

Network-centric advocacy and organizing meets New government

The NYTimes moment has arrived.

The network and the movement combined to set a new standard for organizing . We might even see network-centric government. A government that creates and fosters social ties among its people. A government that helps establish peer to peer communication around the biggest issues and challenges. A government that creates shared resources that can be mixed and reused. A government that provides open transparency and feedback data that people throughout society can use to to identify important societal trends. A government that welcomes outside leadership and engagement. A government that realizes that the answers to its challenges are not in the handful of expert staff but distributed in the power and skills of the people it serves.

A government not focused on the survival of one player, one lobby or one interest group but a government that embraces the roll as a network organizer. Not reaching out to get others with only options to "Join or donate" but one that offers engagement, leadership and the ability to really influence outcomes to all participants.

Network-centric governance and leadership.

“I think it is very significant that he was the first post-boomer candidate for president,” Mr. Andreessen said. “Other politicians I have met with are always impressed by the Web and surprised by what it could do, but their interest sort of ended in how much money you could raise. He was the first politician I dealt with who understood that the technology was a given and that it could be used in new ways.” The juxtaposition of a networked, open-source campaign and a historically imperial office will have profound implications and raise significant questions. Special-interest groups and lobbyists will now contend with an environment of transparency and a president who owes them nothing. The news media will now contend with an administration that can take its case directly to its base without even booking time on the networks.

The Strategy of Web Superiority and Web Dominance of an issue.

In the past, I have highlighted the value of web dominance and in 2003 talked about the value of "web superiority" with the hope of flooding the chatter, setting the tempo and message online no matter where online influentials looked they would see your message.

It seems like a more doable strategy the smaller the issue.  If you work on farming issues in WI, or river protection in Georgia dominating the web discussion would be a very easy territory to take over. I am surprised anyone can pull it off on a national issue with so much attention and so many sites but check this snap shot of Obama vs. McCain.

Here is a snap shot of how that plays out ...

  Online snap shot obama mccain

Galaxy Zoo

Hmm. I could imagine a traditional organizer interviewing the folks organizing the astronomy research at Oxford.


Q: Tell me about your project?

A: We need to do a lot of research.

Q: How much?

A: Well it is like counting and looking at stars in space.

Q: How long will it take? How many staff would it take? How much?

A: Not long. Only a few staff and a big network. Most of the research will be free.

Q: What do you mean?

A: We distributed the work to the network. We asked them to do little bits, check each others work and built our research from the results.

Q: what did they find?

A: "Armchair astronomers using the website have identified over 500 overlapping galaxies in the local Universe when astronomers had previously only known of 20 such systems."

Can you design a similar project? Would you have funded it? Would you have supported it in your organization? Why or why not?

This is network organizing. This is different than thinking about how to organize or build an organization. This is different than grassroots organizing. This is organizing projects to run across massive connected networks of participants using their skills and intelligence.

I look forward to getting out advocacy network based projects moving again. And please check out the Galaxyzoo.

Link: Home | Galaxy Zoo.

Thanks for making Galaxy Zoo such a success!

With your help, we've been able to collect millions of classifications, with which to do science faster than we ever thought possible. We are currently preparing the first science papers for submission to peer-reviewed journals and we will keep you posted on the progress of the papers on the BLOG and the FORUM. From now on, if you classify galaxies on the ANALYSIS page, your classifications will continue to be recorded and will be part of the public release, but it won't be part of the first round of papers. Don't be alarmed if the galaxies are odd, this is part of the process of checking our results.

But we still need you! As part of our follow-up work, we need volunteers to review our set of possible merging galaxies. If you're already familiar with basic Galaxy Zoo analysis, click here to read the instructions and click here to take part. Galaxy Zoo 2 will go live in the near future featuring a much more detailed classification system, while further off we plan GalaxyZoo 3 with lots of exciting new data. We'll notify all of you via the newsletter when we're able to start these two new endeavours.

Work for me? I am picking up entry level staff and interns.

If you tune in here often (the 86+ of you), you might find this job really fun and interesting.

We have been picking up quite a bit of work in line with training people on the concepts of network-centric advocacy and we are providing partners with direct support, online training and strategy services. I am looking to grow this part of my work at Green Media Toolshed over the next few years.

Hopefully, in the next few months I can bring on a few people interested in this work, train them and work with them over the next several years to build the Netcentric Campaigns Division of Green Media Toolshed. I am looking for great staff that want to get into the real work of networking the movement. Please check out the job and pass it on to friends that are interested in a great job in DC.

Network Advocacy Coordinator

Online Fossett Searchers: Giant Suck of Energy

Here is an update to the Fossett story. 50,000 searchers. Lots of false leads given to the Civil Air Patrol.

1. "Leads" Should have needed multiple blind confirmations. (Labor is free make redundancy your test on eliminating false leads.)
2. The user interface didn't work.
3. Poor images made the task very difficult.
4. Didn't leverage the network to sort and prioritize the volunteers.
5. Didn't realize the complexity of working with volunteers vs. Turks getting paid.

Link: Online Fossett Searchers Ask, Was It Worth It?.

Looking back, Diana Francis says she should have known it would be a big waste of time. She sat for hours each day in her husband's home office in Houston scouring little digital snapshots of the Nevada desert on, in hopes that she'd help locate vanished millionaire aviator Steve Fossett.

Finally, though, she decided the exercise was tedious and unproductive.

"It was so exciting and new when we started it and it seemed like it could really help them, but eventually it was disheartening, and I realized I had no idea what I was actually looking for," says Francis, who participated for a couple of weeks while her kids were at school. "You know the saying, 'a needle in a haystack'? Well, this literally was like looking for a needle in a haystack the size of a small European country."

She's not the only one now expressing doubts about Amazon's Mechanical Turk, a high-tech aspect of the Fossett search that received such vast media hype that Mechanical Turk's director, Peter Cohen, won't do interviews about it any more. The online retail giant took the most up-to-date satellite images of the 17,000-square-mile search area, broke it into smaller chunks, and had more than 50,000 volunteers look at randomly distributed segments. In Mechanical Turk parlance, each segment was a small job, known as a Human Intelligence Task or HIT, which required the assigned volunteer to flag anything thought to be out of the ordinary.

Fosset disappeared Sept. 3 during what was planned as a brief jaunt from a ranch 90 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada. The massive online effort didn't lead to the discovery of Fossett or the single-engine Citabria Super Decathalon he was flying. But neither did the dozens of planes and hundreds of ground searchers who made up the biggest search for a missing aircraft in U.S. history. To date, it remains a mystery what happened to Fossett.

Amazon closed the search last week, almost a month after the official on-site search ceased. Now that it's over, Amazon spokeswoman Kay Kinton says the company has learned much, and she gives the system high marks for its ability to update and adapt as the situation changed.

Still, many of those who participated have mixed feelings about their experiences. Francis, who says she's "not that much of a geek," regrets taking part, but many who are more knowledgeable about the technology say it was a worthwhile exercise that should help Amazon refine its methods in the future.

"There was always the hope that people with good eyes would hit the right image, but it's also a learning experience," says Ken Barbalace of Portland, Maine, who runs the website and who looked at 25,000 HITs. "We can't figure out how to make it a valuable tool until you work on it and change things."

The most important change Amazon needs to make for the future, Barbalace says, is that the interface ought to offer a way for searchers to toggle between the image they're given and an image of the same section prior to the date of the search target's disappearance. That would have helped volunteers know whether the things they were spotting were new.

Instead, some volunteers took the GPS coordinates from the squares they were issued and fed them into Google Earth for older images, slowing down their progress. And in the last couple of weeks when Mechanical Turk started using higher-resolution images, the GPS coordinates were no longer listed with the images, which made matching the photos even more of a challenge.

Some volunteers believed that information was withheld because Amazon began to worry that helpers would try to actually go to the sites themselves to search. But Kinton says it's because the source at that point changed from satellite imagery to images taken from aircraft, which didn't have GPS coordinates attached.

Another intense Turker, Andy Chantrill of Castle Donington, England, says he wishes Amazon had provided the searchers with more information about the overall effort. The 25-year-old software designer says he put in 85 hours poring over 20,000 HITs. Since each square was reviewed by up to 10 people, he says he'd like to know how many others had flagged ones he looked at.

"The value of the contribution is hard to quantify because ultimately we failed to find Steve, but it seems reasonable to imagine that this could work," Chantrill says. "I don't see any downsides to it, so long as people don't pester the professional search-and-rescue teams with poor leads."

Yet that is exactly what happened, much to the exasperation of Civil Air Patrol Maj. Cynthia Ryan, who says her e-mail and voicemail boxes were flooded with leads from folks working on the Mechanical Turk. Many times, they mistook search aircraft in the air for Fossett's plane -- even though it's unlikely Fossett's plane would have appeared intact.

"The crowdsourcing thing added a level of complexity that we didn't need, because 99.9999 percent of the people who were doing it didn't have the faintest idea what they're looking for," Ryan says.

"In the early days, it sounded like a good idea," Ryan continues. "In hindsight, I wish it hadn't been there, because it didn't produce a darn thing that was productive except for being a giant black hole for energy, time and resources. There may come a day when this technology is capable of doing what it says it can deliver, but boy, that's not now."

Tag cloud and analysis of 952 ProgressiveExchange emails. (what has this list been talking about in a glance.)

I have a killer project in the works. I am not sure Net2 application and/or presentation does the project justice.Progressexhange_folder

The Advocacy Email Index will change the way we scan emails and understand the movements. Who wants to be on our our allies email list? This project will help us scan and navigate thousands of emails more easily. Users will figure out new ways to find allies and swarm issues.

I want to know what all the groups at Green Media Toolshed are talking about (clients, or peace movement, yada..yada) Green Media Toolshed has 194 member groups. I wish I knew what issues they are working on today, this week, over the last year. What is important to them? What are they discussion with their members in email? I want to know so I can swarm on issues and support folks. I want help our members network better and self-organize on issues. I need a technorotti or digg for the issues of the movement.

My inbox is full and I can't seem to read newsletters fast enough. Our best content is in our enewsletters. I need to be able to process email faster. I might know more about training needs, expertise and partnership opportunities. I need to know the words and trends in my network. (images of progressive exchange - inbox folder and tag cloud. It is all email subjects since Jan 1. What does it tell you?


The Advocacy Email Index
will identify key words used in emails to members. We need to know who is talking about what, and where. By illustrating the community “chatter”, this tool will empower messaging, appeals and issue framing. It will help our disconnected and fragmented movement swarm.

Vote for it. Pop it on net2 and we will get it finished.

We also ran on Center for American Progress emails....over on our blog.

A better title would also be great. (comments)

PreOrder: Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

Clay has pulled together a solid theory of organizing and networks. I can not wait for the new book and hope everyone picks up a copy. He is a solid leader in the space and has thrown down a new set of case studies and frames for thinking about what make networks function.

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations .

A revelatory examination of how the wildfire-like spread of new forms of social interaction enabled by technology is changing the way humans form groups and exist within them, with profound long-term economic and social effects-for good and for ill

A handful of kite hobbyists scattered around the world find each other online and collaborate on the most radical improvement in kite design in decades. A midwestern professor of Middle Eastern history starts a blog after 9/11 that becomes essential reading for journalists covering the Iraq war. Activists use the Internet and e-mail to bring offensive comments made by Trent Lott and Don Imus to a wide public and hound them from their positions. A few people find that a world-class online encyclopedia created entirely by volunteers and open for editing by anyone, a wiki, is not an impractical idea. Jihadi groups trade inspiration and instruction and showcase terrorist atrocities to the world, entirely online. A wide group of unrelated people swarms to a Web site about the theft of a cell phone and ultimately goads the New York City police to take action, leading to the culprit's arrest.

With accelerating velocity, our age's new technologies of social networking are evolving, and evolving us, into new groups doing new things in new ways, and old and new groups alike doing the old things better and more easily. You don't have to have a MySpace page to know that the times they are a changin'. Hierarchical structures that exist to manage the work of groups are seeing their raisons d'être swiftly eroded by the rising technological tide. Business models are being destroyed, transformed, born at dizzying speeds, and the larger socialimpact is profound.

One of the culture's wisest observers of the transformational power of the new forms of tech-enabled social interaction is Clay Shirky, and Here Comes Everybody is his marvelous reckoning with the ramifications of all this on what we do and who we are. Like Lawrence Lessig on the effect of new technology on regimes of cultural creation, Shirky's assessment of the impact of new technology on the nature and use of groups is marvelously broad minded, lucid, and penetrating; it integrates the views of a number of other thinkers across a broad range of disciplines with his own pioneering work to provide a holistic framework for understanding the opportunities and the threats to the existing order that these new, spontaneous networks of social interaction represent

Here is Clay ..riffing on space.

Distributed Research: needs 43 phone calls to track Hill staff

your chance to do some old fashioned, person-to-person reporting: Call
up a lobbying firm and verify that we have indeed identified a former
congressional insider who's moved on to K Street. We give you a really
simple script, and an easy way to record your efforts. Just click here to get started.

Where Are They Now? Staffers Needing Verification

These staff members still need researchers like you to verify them. A call typically only takes a minute and helps ensure our research is as accurate as possible.

From the Mail Bag: David Letterman and Alex's Lemonade Stand

I have often talked about the story of Alex's Lemonade Stand  as one of the great examples of network-centric organizing. They continue to push the organizing and message crafting, the story telling and inspiration out to the audience.  I love the new section they added "From the Mail Bag".  Just unedited and raw scanned letters.   They have raised $18 million for Alex's Foundation and have a story that just keeps spreading in a connected culture.  It is clean and easy. Stop Cancer, Save kids, Hold a lemonade stand.

It is a beautiful campaign.

Center for Progressive Leadership Action Network

Distributed leadership training... very cool.

They have videos related to grassroots mobilization, including the 24-minute training video and extended interviews with national experts in the field. The videos are played at organized hose parties and the n the house parties unite via web conference for final Q& A.

Link: Center for Progressive Leadership Action Network.

On September 21st, activists joined together in house party trainings all over the country to learn the fundamentals of grassroots action, including tools for volunteer recruitment and direct voter outreach.

Google Presentations: Tell a Story Together: Network Presentations

I am really big into presentations. I like to use them to communicate and interact with an audience. I think many of the presentations nonprofit groups and campaign do stink. I am a huge fan of Andy Goodman and Edward Tufte.

It seemed like the space had not yet really hit any new developments since powerpoint came along. I think most the bullet talk with powerpoint is not really a good thing anyway. However, slides with photos and images to accompany a good story, along with extensive handouts can not be beat as a way to communicate a messages and ideas.

Now Google has launched Google Presentations. Work on them together. Share them with others present them online. VERY COOL. It will change my work.

To start one go to google documents and hit NEW -> PRESENTATION... and you are on your way. Lets see if I can start posting some more of my presentation materials on the blog.

Noonhat: Self-Organizing at the edge.

Self-organizing lunch in a community.

World Changing found this little cool service. (highlight a part of DC (you have to drag the map across the country.) It is a very interesting experiment. I could see campaigns, churches, support groups and issue advocacy groups really making use of these in branded version on websites to also facilitate lunch with organizers, staff, preachers, experts, key supporters, etc.

Noonhat assumes the choir all knows each other. I am interested in connecting different parts of my choir together over lunch. would be great at events like WTO protest or at national conferences for setting up quick ad hoc groups. (Or in Katrina response )

If it could be a simple widget people could ad them to all kinds of site to create lunches of community of interest.

Link: WorldChanging: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future: Building Community Through Lunch.

NoonHat is a simple website. All it contains is a map, a little circle, and a box where you can enter your email , and a calendar. You choose a location by moving the circle, which can be re-sized, to an appropriate place on the map, pick a date, and enter your email. Voila, on the date of interest, you get an email in the morning telling you who is also available (I believe the minimum is three) and you make mutually convenient arrangements.

Why is this so important? As Brian demonstrates so well in any talk on NoonHat, we are not talking to each other. We spend our time with our peers and people who think like us and do many of the same things we do. While the web provides us a wonderful medium to meet like minded people on the other end of the world, NoonHat demonstrates that we can leverage the web at the local level. We can change the world.

Pug Story in the Onion

Dog Breeders Issue Massive Recall Of 07 Pugs

The Onion

Dog Breeders Issue Massive Recall Of '07 Pugs

WASHINGTON, DC—While pug owners are accustomed to chronic dog malfunction, the latest animals are prone to more than the usual overheating, seizures, and joint failure.

I love the Pug. I also posted this story to the Pug Lovers Group on (here) at 3:05 PM...I'll let you know views and responses in 24 hours.

ShutterClock - Friday 11th May 2007 @ 8PM GMT

Network syncronizing distributed group of people to take a photo at the same time.

160 people ... ShutterClock - Friday 11th May 2007 @ 8PM GMT.

All these pictures where taken on Friday 11th May 2007, at 8pm GMT*. ShutterClock would like to thank all people who have taken part in this pictorial event. If you still have a picture to upload then click here to find out ways to upload your picture.