Citizen Journalism - connecting with those who are doing it. : Training for Green MEdia Toolshed folks.

At Green Media Toolshed (GMT) we are hosting a skill building training: Citizen Journalism - connecting with those who are doing it. The event will be online and at my office. There are a few extra seats open as of today so if you are in DC please let us know at GMT.

The training is on Wednesday, May 16th, at 3pm EST. It should be great because we are focusing on citizen journalism, the act of citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information." You can read more about this in We Media's report on how audiences are shaping the future of news and information: Citizen journalists are looking to provide accurate, independent and reliable information to their audiences.

The training will focus on the current diversity of citizen journalism efforts, the citizen journalism mindset, and how environmental advocacy organizations can work more effectively with citizen journalists. the trainer is Amy Gahran, a media consultant, journalist, editor, and entrepreneur based in Boulder, Colorado. She's covered energy and environmental issues for various news organizations and think tanks for nearly 20 years. She's also worked extensively with the Society of Environmental Journalists since that group's inception. She's been working mainly in online media since 1998, when she launched, an early weblog on content issues for online media. She also blogs on conversational/social media issues. In addition, Amy blogs for several clients -- currently she edits the Poynter Institute's group weblog E-Media Tidbits. Amyportrait

In the last few years, Amy has gotten deeply involved with the emerging realm of citizen journalism. She and business partner and longtime journalist Adam Glenn co-founded IReporter-- a project to engage, guide, and train citizen journalists and the media/communication professionals who work with them. Amy and Adam also recently launched a grant-funded pro/community journalism project on an environmental topic,

Call GMT if you want to sign up (Yvonne is coordinating the head count and GMT members get best service.)

Genocide Networks: International Strategies to Interfere with Genocide Dynamics

Here is an interesting paper from Tom Glaisyer, one of our new staff members thinking about the role of networks in peace and international organizing. computing tools have an important potential to transform many more people into interested parties taking action against genocide.Because it will be impossible to ignore their individual actions or the combined political pressure that they can generate, positive actions to intervene will be taken.

...In order to have a substantial impact on the creation of an effective genocide prevention system, the new technological tools must be integrated such that they create and substantiate personal relationships.

Nice work Tom. - Armchair Activism That Works

Link: - Armchair Activism That Works.

Armchair Activism That Works Martin Kearns and Jonathan Schwarz February 02, 2007

One of the most remarkable, unexpected developments of the Internet has been the explosive growth of Wikipedia . At first glance, the Wikipedia concept—that thousands upon thousands of volunteers working with little central supervision can create a huge databank of accurate information—seems untenable. And yet the Wikipedia bumblebee flies anyway. While not flawless, Wikipedia has become an invaluable resource, with detailed articles on everything from arithmetic to geodesy to the movie "Zoolander."

Thanks to TomPaine for the exposure and Jonathan for helping it make sense.

Power to the Edges: Advocacy and Politics in the Age of Connectivity

It is good to touch base again with stuff that I have written in the past, dust it off and kick it around again. I have been kicking stuff around in this space since late 2002 and moved Advocacy in the Age of Connectivity to Typepad on March 19, 2003. In the early days, I often was able to focus more time and energy and lately I have been thinking about ways to repackage all or the materials into a useful guide, set of workshops and some sustainable consulting services from Green Media Toolshed to help convert new folks to the network-centric advocacy strategy in their planning and investments. So in addition to the continued use of the blog as my note space, I am going revisit and recycle some older posts to spotlight them in new ways and update them with my current thinking..

The age of connectivity brought about by the Internet and other digital information technologies is reshaping how Americans do business, obtain news and information about the world, engage in social functions, shop, express their creativity, and engage in community life.

Things change: In the midst of this moment lies an opportunity to reshape politics and progressive populist organizing for the better to be more powerful, more inclusive and boldly successful. To take advantage of this window (3-10 years) of technology and mobility induced destabilization will require a change in organizations and organizer culture.

Organizations must:
1. Nimbly jump on to the fast-moving wave of opportunities that the Internet both delivers and makes
2. Integrate online activities with offline.
3. Leverage extended networks of activists, friends and sympathizers across issues areas.
4. Lead using a new set of facilitative skills.

Culture, industry and technology are connecting people together. The web is there.The barriers to full participation are lowered, and the potential for powerful participation increased. The web has shifted from a tool to use as a delivery mechanism to a platform to harness. While the last many years have focused on training individuals and building organizational capacity in specific areas, now is the time to “wire” these investments together while supporting new training, leadership and planning skills. Now is the time to think about the progressive network as a platform.

Like many web2.0 businesses, we now need to build new business plans based on "the assumption" of the infrastructure web. However, our web is a social web that is weaved wider and more far flung than any our social organizing strategies have dealt with in the past. Centralization is not an option so the guiding principle of organizing needs to change to "push power to the edges."

The future of civic engagement belongs to communities and organizations that effectively align online and offline policy, strategy and campaigns efforts; and it belongs to those that harness the passion and power of individuals.

Download Pushing_Power_to_the_Edges_05-06-05.pdf

Mediavolunteer Better than Google Answers

If only we could swarm answers folks to (Answer for a cause not for peanuts) Mediavolunteer is distributed research for a reason.

Link: Official Google Blog: Adieu to Google Answers.

The people who participated in Google Answers -- more than 800 of them over the years -- are a passionate group committed to helping people find the information they need, and we applaud them for sharing their incredible knowledge with everyone who wrote in.

Connection Matters: Spreading a message vs. Spreading a frame.

I have been working for a while on the idea that a message moves through a culture not only because it is a good message or perfect frame BUT ALSO because the base is connected. Network-centric advocacy rests to some degree on the idea that connectivity is essential for swarming, mobilizing, fighting message control and dominating public debate. It is essential that message and advocaacy efforts are formated so they can "move" from listserves to cell phones.

Here is the example that helps to demonstrate the power of connecctivity. If you think of messages much like fire ..even the perfect message (ie. i tell you you tell the other you know with perfect clarity, they tell others) connectivity matters.

Here is a screencast (my first) of a Netlogo demonstration of fire spreading in a forest. I work over the density of the forest and run the program a few times. You can see that there is a point of connectivity (density is that idea that trees are touching or connected) is between 59% and 61%. The connective change is the key to lighting a majority or having a campaign that flames out.

Harold Katzmir from FAS research showed me this program.

Questions for Campaign Staff ? Role of the Network ?

Network Questions for RootsCampers:

1. What role did social ties play in your campaign? Did information, strategy or advise from friends alter your strategy? How much did you trust people working in the same region as you (did you know and trust the people in the 527, democratic coordinated efforts, or other similar BUT uncoordinated efforts?) Did you develop "social relations or trust" with loggers or other content providers who you never really worked with in face to face contexts?

2. How did you stay in sync with the common story of the election? How did you track the story "landscape"? Did you read CAP? Democracy Corps? or other shared political and message framing content and publications? Did you look at thee for framing talking points and other appeals? How many other candidates email lists were you subscribed to? Did you read any blogs that helped shape message or story? How did you try to build off messages in the wild and connect them to you campaign(Foley, Iraq, Scandals, etc) ?

3. How healthy was your communications grid to people outside the campaign? What email lists were you on? Who's polling infraction idid you get copies of? Where you on IM and Skype with folks from across the movement? Did that help you stay in touch with trends, braking stories, opposition tactics? Internally in the campaign how well did different offices coordinate?

4. How much were you willing to work with information and resources that were "not yours" did you use shared resources? Did you post YouTube clips on your site? Did you work with open source software? Did you access data warehouse materials? Did you use Flickr? Did you clip and run with talking points or research findings from others? Did you use googlemaps? Did you use yahoo groups or meetup? Did you rely on other people's pools of volunteers? or volunteer coordination from outside groups? Did you pass on others flash ads? or voter information? What shared resources of the movement were useful?

5. Clarity of Purpose? Did leaders form within you ranks and network help you define positions? Where there campaigns or efforts that were clearly self-organized by network leaders? Where these useful? Where they a distraction? Did you assign people to manage and lead networks or participate in online forums and high traffic sites on your campaigns teams response?

I Love Mountains: Understanding Landscape Scale Environmental Problems

I grew up in the Poconos. I love mountains. I love rivers. The mountain top removal for coal is total bullshit economics exploiting poor communities health, landscapes and futures for dirty coal.

I know these moonscapes of tailings. I walked around on the ones in PA before the industry left our community a wasteland. My grandfather worked the railroads and I think somewhere in our family past my family organized the first big union push in PA to get weekends off for miners.

I used to get in trouble because my skin would turn orange from being in the Lackawanna river (iron and metals in the water) or my cloths would be black from "skiing" down the shale piles.

They are working on an important issue. This group is super savvy and media smart. The funeral for the mountains is really powerful..."WV is not about Coal it is about mountains and rivers."

1. Watch the Video.

2. Sign the Petition

Take a minute and check it out. Here is a group with some great technology. Look at the site. They are leveraging YouTube, GoogleEarth, Forwardtrack to tell a story about small town West Virgina. Great site. Great Strategy.

The group's Web site -- -- uses GoogleEarth (TM) mapping tools to display a portion of central Appalachia where mountain-top mining is prevalent. There is also a three-dimensional tour of the range of mountains that reveals clear views of coal slurry ponds, blasting holes and previously tall mountains where the peaks are whittled down to the size of large hills.

Please kick in and sign the petition to help stop this insanity

Phone bank the Media: Distributed Work Project

MediaVolunteer does not consist of calling voters, raising money or talking to politicians that are busy packing.

We dare say it is the "perfect victory lap for successful and engaged voters" and volunteers. Most importantly, the work on mediavolunteer is actually best done BEFORE the newly elected officials and staff move into office.

Please visit and complete a few tasks in just 12 minutes.

We have designed the perfect action for political hangovers. It is work you can do from the comfort of your home or office desk. Mediavolunteer only takes a few minutes.

You have worked hard this election cycle. We are there with you. You have seen all the political money being thrown at media to get the last undecided voter. You have had enough.

This election matters. Voters want to send a clear message. They also wanted some new ears. We want to make sure that the good groups making new friends on Capital Hill can move the stories and messages that shape policy. Media Volunteer, Volunteer Media.

We want to move new messages on security, peace, environment, health and justice. We need to retool an under resourced movement for an entirely different political atmosphere. We need to help progressive and liberal messengers influence the public debate.

The freshly elected officials and their staffs are going to be looking for new ideas. They are also going to be pushing a different set of issues into the forefront on the media debate. We need to make sure that public interest groups can jump into the media debate.

We need to make sure our groups are equipped to advance good ideas and counter punch the conservative spin machine that have been cozy with the media for way too long.

Right. Right. Ok. This is where you come in. Volunteer 12 Minutes.

To influence media coverage our groups need a good press list. The communications people for these groups need to be able to jump online and find all the reporters that cover health in Georgia or who covers veteran issues across Pennsylvania. The groups need to be able to work the media as with the same tools as Madison Ave. P.R teams hired by Halliburton. To update and develop lists of tens of thousands of reporters would eat up staff time. However, a few thousand volunteers could update the list in a week with just a few calls each at

Please help us call two reporters. Each volunteer will be assigned different names. Reporters are used to these calls. They usually offer the information we are looking very quickly. Spelling of names , address, email confirmation , etc. We provide the form for the data and script at

In January 2007, the fight for the direction of the country will not be fought in paid political ads but back to on the field of public opinion. With just 12 minutes of your time, we can make sure lots of groups have the media lists they need to be effective in the moment of change.

Please help. It takes just a few minutes of your time. It is easy and important work. Thank you.

A Bear Votes

In one of the better examples of recycle, reuse ...A Bear Votes! ...Thanks to Rob Stuart and all the folks that worked on the the original. Thanks to and Getactive for the recast

Now digitially remastered for highdef elections. A Bear Votes!


In the future should post the code so it can be embedded on lots of sites. They should remove the text so others can remix it. Can some one screencast and youtube it for future elections before the Bear disappears again....

Make sure you vote on Tuesday! Do it for the Bears.

1.5 million photos of areas smaller than a grain of salt: needle in a haystack is noting compared to a speck of dust

This is really cool. NASA is giving the public access to virtual microscopes to scan 1.5 million photos of areas the size of a grain of salt to look for space dust.

Maybe when they get done those volunteers could help with MediaVolunteer so we can help the groups that defend science based policy and do media and outreach on behalf of science in the debate.

The mediavolunteer project is not looking for dust but equipping environmental public interest groups to participate in the public debate on a variety of issues (global warming, river pollution, toxics in our water, protecting biodiversity etc) including debating those that are working to substitute religious belief for science in our schools ( venganza and others) evolution.

Calling reporters or looking at slides for a spec of dust. Really, reporters are friendly people at least much more interesting than dust right?

Link: 01.10.2006 - Public to look for dust grains in Stardust detectors.

Thanks to a grant from NASA and assistance from the Planetary Society, however, Westphal and his colleagues at the Space Sciences Laboratory have created a "virtual microscope" that will allow anyone with an Internet connection to scan some of the 1.5 million pictures of the aerogel for tracks left by speeding dust. Each picture will cover an area smaller than a grain of salt. "Twenty or 30 years ago, we would have hired a small army of microscopists who would be hunched over microscopes focusing up and down through the aerogel looking for the tracks of these dust grains," said Westphal. "Instead, we developed an automated microscope to scan the aerogel and hope to use volunteers we have trained and tested to search for these tracks."

MobileActive: Liberation technology | Mobiles, protests and pundits |

Cell phones for civic engagement. Check out all the how to guides, mobileactive memos and cases from the field at

Link: Liberation technology | Mobiles, protests and pundits |

UNTIL recently, killers in Burundi found it easy to cover their traces; they just tossed the bodies into a river where crocodiles would eat them up. But in August residents of Muyinga province acted fast when they saw fresh corpses drifting downstream; they used their mobile phones to contact NGOs, who in turn tipped off the United Nations, whose soldiers got to the scene fast enough to recover some forensic evidence.

Turning in crappy handhelds into a National SOS Radio Network

This is interesting. My kids get these radios from random family members on several occasions. national Geographic makes them. They show up for like $10. There are 100 million of these cheap radios out there.

Now a network of volunteers are organizing the use of them to hook into Ham Radios to create a national emergency communications grid to support self-organizing responses in neighborhoods. This is a really good idea.

The site needs help. They also definitely need some public relations, campaign and web strategy help to pop this idea out to the country.

Take your little radios and put them to channel 1 in a huge emergency or blackout. Phone lines down etc. ... Police and Ham folks monitor channel 1.

What do you need to do: Radio to channel 1.
WHERE exactly the caller is (street, number, apt., town, state).
WHAT is wrong (fire, injury, someone trapped, etc.).
WHO is calling (name).

In a big crunch, these cheap little radios can help swarm and coordinate local responses. This is smart. We used these cheap things doing field work in 04. Civic associations and groups could post a separate channel for chatter.

Hmm.... Anybody try this yet?

Link: National SOS Radio Network -- America's easy, reliable, accessible-by-all emergency communications system. It combines millions of Family Radio Service (FRS) radios already in use for camping, boating, hiking, etc., and the nationwide network of 650,000 h.

National SOS" public emergency network in which neighborhoods and communities utilize the 100 million low-cost Family Radio Service (FRS) radios they already own. In addition, 700,000 amateur (ham) radio operators, 70,000 licensed General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) users, and hundreds of thousands of scanner users have been invited to augment the system. Training is essential to the success of the program. Statewide and nationwide training drills, and associated public educational materials, are being prepared to help bring the network to life. For the very latest information, you can click here to visit our discussion forums and here to sign up for our free mailing list. FRS radios and FRS / GMRS combination radios used strictly under FRS regulations don't require an operator license, can be used by anyone of any age, and are available for as little as $10 - $30 at many retailers and online stores. Because of their low cost and widespread availability, these radios can be part of every home's emergency kit (flashlight, water, FRS radio, batteries, etc.).

Kudos to Stephenson's Networked Homeland Security for the pointer

Idealware: Addictive Volunteering

Network scale projects must:
1. Be designed so that the more people that use them the better they are are.
2. The more people that use them builds hooks into creating more people wanting to use them.
3. The more people that show up the more effective the system becomes at filtering.

Link: Idealware: Addictive Volunteering.

Google is doing a similar experiment with image labeling, which I also find pretty addictive. Over a 90-second period, you and a randomly assigned partner will be shown the same set of images and asked to provide labels for them. When your label matches your partner's label, you move on to the next image until time runs out. Strangely fun, and presumably generates a bunch of decent labels for images.

This is a really interesting and promising model – what else could we apply it to? For better or worse, volunteers are looking to contribute in ways they find meaningful without a huge time commitment. There must be a whole slew of other areas where we could use novice researchers to gather data or apply insight – researching and categorizing software tools? Mapping (through addresses) a huge number of items? Linking up resources into a central place?

Homeless Nation

This is a very cool site that Perla Ni GreatNonprofits. She gave a wonderful presentation and pointed to sites that are human voice, connect users and encourage emotional connections.

Homeless Nation

There are tens of thousands of homeless people in Canada, with no address, no vote, nameless and faceless, and yet there is almost no documentation (statistical or personal) made by them or about them as a community or as individuals. If we continue to accept this status-quo of invisibility, an entire generation of homeless people will pass away without a trace.

The Homeless Nation website has been created to reverse stereotyping, to empower the street community to undertake their own representation, and to foster a national dialogue around the most serious social problem facing us today: homelessness.

The site provides video to homeless people in Canada. The stories are genuine real and create a connection between the audience and the people they serve. It works because you can see that the people in the street are real. The group is not using stock photography of the people they help. They are giving those folks voice and volume in the Internet age.

Zack Exley: The People: Think Bold

There are few rants that get me to really pumped up. Even fewer that cause me to shake my fist with agreement. Few articles that I print and make my staff read. This is one.

Zack stands behind the idea that movements are smart. His experience is rich and he is really good at banging out some of the failures and opportunities for social change.

Because of our perception of this dumbing-down of the people, we focus more and more intensively on "consciousness raising" and "leadership development" -- to the exclusion of working with leaders who are already plenty conscious and already amazing leaders. We've been shrinking down our expectations until they're practically non-existent. We been doing this for decades.

To start to get out of this trap, we've just got to open our minds to the possibility that the people are just as radical as they were when millions took part in sit-down strikes and the Unemployed Councils. We've got to recognize the possibility that the wisest, boldest leaders have been consciously refusing to participate in our campaigns because our goals have been too modest and our strategies shaky as hell.

His piece begs a shift in organizing strategy and our leadership. However, the shift in strategy needs a corresponding shift in the infrastructure to support change. We will not change things until we stop measuring and evaluating by the same matrix as before. Zack has put together a better riff on this people leadership and respect for the masses than I have in the past but it is an underpinning theme of network-centric advocacy. It is also a theme i believe strongly in....

Mead warned that "If we let our generals and our statesmen involve us in international threats and reprisals which fail to bring out the strengths in our character--we may lose" The strength of our movement is not in the centralized organization but in the small bands of activists that sit in each neighborhood. Our movement marches lock-step with American doctrine to centralize power and control. We seek to build bigger and stronger organizations to fight for progressive policy. The promise of network-centric advocacy is that it focuses on reinforcing casual connectors to issues of social concern. Network-centric advocacy puts everything on the shoulders of the small thoughtful groups and fosters their leadership and clout. Small groups can change the world, our challenge is to help without getting in the way. "

We are in a renaissance of personality history. We are gobbling up biographies of Jack Welsh, John Adams,Rudy Giuliani and every other man figure that has found themselves in front of the juggernaut of public unity. Our society (our largest social network) will create leaders to fill our needs and visions. We will increase the reward to those willing to speak our language and serve our needs. We will help them overcome the adversity they face. We will offer a resolve they could not muster on their own.

Zack drives it home from his organizing experience ...

the leadership of a group is not a static list. In campaigns, if you're open to the possibility, you find that leadership is something that pops up in the most unexpected people at the most unexpected times. I remember one day when the whole future of a campaign relied on one worker reading a statement confidently and clearly to the boss in front of an assembly of workers. So who did we choose? Of course, the most confident and articulate worker on the organizing committee. When the time came, he froze and couldn't open his mouth. He stood there with the paper shaking in his hands. The woman standing next to him took the paper from his hands and read it just as clearly and confidently as could be. What was shocking about this was that, while very respected for being a hard worker with seniority, she was known for anything but her way with words or confidence in front of other people.
Ultimately, we need to connect the dots that leadership takes place in a context. A context that the family living room and factory floor creates is different than the context that currently shapes the "leadership" on a national scale. Taking over talking points on a stage is very different from swapping out leadership of NRDC or the Party. Why is it so different? Because leadership on a national scale is about control of resources (money, people, brands, intellectual property) and resources right now are governed by very old and dysfunctional laws and history. Being a boss of an organization means decades of work, ass kissing, political maneuvering, positioning, family ties and maybe even a history of success or successful spin. It is our structure that sets the context for leadership. It is our structures that set reasonable "measures".

Hopefully, Zack will follow up with a bit of thinking on the role of structure in picking leadership and experiment with ideas and proposals that loosen the barriers to bottoms up leadership taking shape. There is more here than blaming good hearted organizers that went to college. I would push Zack's summary a bit more.."

But it's clear that the progressive movement overall is still suffering from a lack of trust and faith in The People. Take a leap of faith, trust The People, and I guarantee that as long as you combine that with good organizing, you won't be disappointed."

Good organizing flows from the ends you want to achieve. As long as the organizing goals are set by the organizational leadership that employee the organizers and the resources poured out are from spigots controlled by traditional leaders then you will run into structural and governance systems that are set up to lack trust and prevent leaps of faith.

There is an old saying about the idea that soldiers talk about fights, captains talk about battles and machinery and generals talk about logistics. The movement, our street organizers, our media, and our message sharpers seem to miss the focus on logistics entirely. We need to build the network power of a distributed base.

Ronald McHummer 128,000 Signs Served: I'm Loving Network CultureJams

The campaign that keeps on giving. McDonalds inspires 128,000 anti-hummer ads. It is a great campaign with a edge on the ads ...


Link: Ronald McHummer - Just Say No to Hummers.

Happy Meals to promote Hummers. These super sized SUVs spew smog-forming chemicals that send asthmatic children to the hospital and greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Our kids should be learning about cleaner, healthier cars and what they can do to protect the environment, not gas-guzzlers that keep us dependent on foreign oil.

Oh yeah, please also do what you can to stop the obesity epidemic too.

Culture Jam: Politics Cleanup: Ads Mashup :Chevy Tahoe Ad Machine: All Cool

I love it.... Time to make more movies and ads. Please post your links. Lets see what folks can do.

Vote for mine...

Review a few...

Make your own...


Flashback to the Chevy Rants

BlogTalkRadio: Internet Radio for the Membership

Here is a little new site that packs the phone interview and the podcast into a nice little service. It creates the opportunity for bottom up talk radio targeting those that have Internet connections or listen to podcast.

This will have some applications for the groups that can draw an audience with big names and a good email list. If you check it out please let me know. .. I listened to a few and the basic technology seems to work.

It would be cool if enough funny and creative people could create a site of feeds that ran pretty consistently with the same numbers and lots of different programs. The groups could then cross-promte the talk radio to the audiences on their membership list and use it as an alternative channel for an election cycle or campaign.

Who knows? A netcentric podcast may be in my would definitely need to be a call in show.

Link: BlogTalkRadio.

Your BlogShow lets you host your own talk show online. Receive live callers, interview guests, and broadcast to an unlimited number of listeners. All you need is any type of phone, an internet connection, and something to say. All your listeners need is streaming audio or any type of phone should they choose to call in

Wikipedia : Small Core Group or Distributed Network

I have been thinking lots about the ideas of distributed networks and the concepts behind the value of the casual connecting volunteer. In my talks and presentations I will often bring up wikipedia as one of the great examples of distributed power that lies at the tips of all the keyboards (the people). However, some comments by Jimbo Wales have started to make the case I build harder and harder. Folks say it is just written by a handful of people.

Thanks Carl.... well the truth is....

To investigate more formally, I purchased some time on a computer cluster and downloaded a copy of the Wikipedia archives. I wrote a little program to go through each edit and count how much of it remained in the latest version.† Instead of counting edits, as Wales did, I counted the number of letters a user actually contributed to the present article.
To investigate more formally, I purchased some time on a computer cluster and downloaded a copy of the Wikipedia archives. I wrote a little program to go through each edit and count how much of it remained in the latest version.† Instead of counting edits, as Wales did, I counted the number of letters a user actually contributed to the present article.

The real result. "t's some emergent phenomenon -- the wisdom of mobs, swarm intelligence, that sort of thing -- thousands and thousands of individual users each adding a little bit of content and out of this emerges a coherent body of work" the exact opposite of the quote from Whales and on the money to the idea of a large casually connecting network (provided with a direction) attacking a problem on scale that we could not even imagine a few years ago.

GasBuddy Network of Volunteers

YEAH! Use the network to create a data resource that pull together more volunteers that makes the data resource more valuable ..pulling in more volunteers! This is network based strategy!

You will not hear GasBuddy folks complain that they have to many volunteers or to much traffic. They are mapping gas prices everywhere. is one of 174 local web sites run by The web sites gather prices by a network of volunteer gas prices spotters in each area.

How can we help with your story? We can help you in several ways. We can supply you with gas price data from our network of web sites. We have current and historical average gas price data for every major city/US state/Canadian province going back to January 2001.

We can arrange an interview with some of our local volunteer price spotters - it provides a good vantage point from someone that uses this web site on a regular basis. These people are ordinary Internet users, and have no official affiliation with

It is a beautiful example.


Final Chapter: Chevy Tahoe Sales Falling 46.2%: To the clip

There once was a debate. Were the culture jammers being played by the PR firms? Did they predict our creativity, voice and passion? Did they expect 40,000 ads (mostly negative) viewed by five million people? Did they expect most of the mainstream press and viral networks would all hone in on the stupidity of SUVs? Or were they thinking we would boost sales?

For those who wondered about the ad campaign? Was it positive advertising? What is Spin and what is BS? Was the ad agency manipulating those of us pushing the campaign?

Nope. We are addicted to oil and Chevy is one of the pushers. No more questions. Learn your lessons GM. 46.2%

Light trucks, amid persistently high gas prices, took the biggest hit, down 37.1% to 236,019, with the Chevy Tahoe and Trailblazer falling 46.2% and 33.6%, respectively.

Let's play the clip.....

BookCrossing - The World's Biggest Free Book Club - Catch and Release Used Books:

Network based book service. Decentralized book sharing via public places.

What are the factors that make this work?

1. Excess product with low cash value.
2. High degree of fun enjoying "free" stuff released by others.
3. Easy coordination via the Internet.
4. People are basically good.

How can we apply this to similar community based challenges with physical items? Metro cards or small change (take a penny leacve a penny). Campaign literature? Advocacy, lobbying talking points, disposable digital cameras? near state capitals or big organizing events.

"Take one - leave one" boxes in the city, on the ferry, on the train? gift wrapping paper on the way into and leaving airports......

Link: BookCrossing - The World's Biggest Free Book Club - Catch and Release Used Books.

You've come to a friendly place, and we welcome you to our book-lovers' community. Our members love books enough to let them go — into the wild — to be found by others. Sharing your used books has never been more exciting, more serendipitous, than with BookCrossing. Our goal, simply, is to make the whole world a library. BookCrossing is a free online book club of infinite proportion, the first and only of its kind. Inside, you'll find millions of book reviews and hundreds of thousands of passionate readers just like you. Let's get right down to it. You know the feeling you get after reading a book that speaks to you, that touches your life, a feeling that you want to share it with someone else? gives you a simple way to share books with the world, and follow their paths forever! The "3 Rs" of BookCrossing... Read a good book (you already know how to do that) Register it here (along with your journal comments), get a unique BCID (BookCrossing ID number), and label the book Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, "forget" it in a coffee shop, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone comes here and records a journal entry for that book. And if you make Release Notes

Air Force Mining Blog World : Air Force Discovery Internet Rich Source of Information

There were a few things that are note worthy in Valdis' post.

1. Air Force Blogs Study May Provide Credible Information
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research recently began funding a new research area that includes a study of blogs.

2. “The fact that the web is a vast source of information is sometimes overlooked by military analysts,” Kokar said. “Our research goal is to provide the warfighter with a kind of information radar to better understand the information battlespace.”

3. Valdis does a good job talking about the implications to political strategy and the next cycle. The "big guns in politics" are thinking and talking about network mapping but everyone is unsure are they mapping it to build networks or rip them apart.

Link: Network Weaving: Un-Weaving Networks II.

In a political war[the upcoming elections of 2006 and 2008?], the battling parties would like to know their opponent's structures -- how are they organized, who are the key nodes in their network, and where are their points of failure. With the no-holds-barred political strategies of today the following questions are being asked: Who do we discredit today? Where do we split the network so that it declines into ineffective fragmentation? Whose switchboard do we tie up? Who do we start rumors about? Who do we turn against each other? In other words, how do we disrupt the others from waging an effective campaign? These are all questions that can be answered beginning with link analysis of public information on the WWW. Link analysis tools and public data are available to all who desire them. Which leads to an interesting possibility... if the government is mapping the blogosphere, will the bloggers map the government?

Disrupting terrorist networks is a good thing -- we want to dismantle their networks. But is it a good thing to do with your neighbors and fellow citizens? Political polarization is an effective election strategy, but it just makes us weaker as a group to our foes. Weaving together perspectives and people here at home, and with our allies, makes us much stronger to any and all enemies.

Psssst... for the Airforce blog report... Let me save a ya a few bucks...lots of bloggers thought the war was a really bad idea. Lot's of bloggers don't think the administration has a clue or a strategy. The best way to peace is rarely via a gun. It is possible to inspire revenge.

Power to the Edges: Trends and Opportunities in Online Civic Engagement (FLASHBACK)

I put lots of energy into this paper (so did the rest of the writers). I don't think we kicked it around enough as a community. I did not do it on the blog but I am going to revisit a few pages. The link to the full paper is at the bottom but I am going to grab some chunks of it to put out here on the blog....

The age of connectivity is changing the landscape of commerce, manufacturing and society, restructuring the way individuals, companies and nonprofits interact with each other and with their communities:
1. Large numbers of people can be mobilized within hours—even minutes—to donate, volunteer, protest, call Congress, boycott—all at little or no cost.
2. Individuals are by-passing the work of established parties and organizations with their self-generated campaigns.
3. Individuals, groups and organizations are generating their own news without the benefit of mainstream media.

Traditional ways of doing business are coming to an end. For those concerned with building an active citizenry, these changes need to be understood and harnessed.

The December 2004 tsunami that hit the communities encircling the Indian Ocean may well be remembered not only for the size of the tragedy, but for the way the entire continuum of Internet and other communications tools were used in response: blogs coordinated help and communicated news; online contributions were raised in unprecedented amounts; cell phones and text messaging allowed citizen journalists to provide moment-by-moment reporting.

Three parallel tracks of Internet usage—nonprofit, commercial and individual—inform the future direction of civic engagement.

To date, nonprofit use has focused primarily on supporting or improving existing organizational practices (online brochures, email action alerts, “donate now” links), with a small number of organizations beginning to change how they think about and implement the Internet to engage their constituents.
In the commercial sector, Internet use has evolved from supporting traditional business practices to the creation of entirely new business models (just-in-time inventory, engaging the customer as product/service designer).

Individuals are increasingly connected, doing so at high speeds, and deriving satisfaction and a sense of community from their time online, reading their news online, joining online support groups, communicating with policymakers.

The convergence of these separate tracks was particularly evident during the 2003-2004 U.S. presidential campaign season, during which time we saw significant changes both in how organizations engage citizens and how citizens themselves engage in public policy. Online organizing can reach more people with greater frequency and gives people the opportunity to shape their engagement in real and meaningful ways.

While the tools for online engagement may be changing at lightning speed, the outcomes of online engagement do not differ significantly from those of more traditional efforts: individuals donate money and time to worthy causes, people register to vote and show up at the polls, policymakers listen and legislation is passed. Online engagement does not preclude, exclude or even dilute the need for “on land” (or offline) engagement. The key to understanding online civic engagement is not to focus on the latest tool or the latest tactic, but to recognize that engaging people and organizations in this new environment requires new ways of thinking and new organizational models.

Four aspects of civic engagement in particular have been most affected by recent online developments:

While civic engagement campaigns have traditionally been designed, initiated and carried out by organizations, today, loose networks of individuals can accomplish campaign objectives and deliver intense bursts of power either in partnership with or completely independent of organizations.
The traditional model of “broadcast” communications for civic engagement is being replaced—or at least augmented—by narrowcasting and citizen-as-newsmaker, which can that both broaden and deepen a campaign’s reach.

The Internet allows for a level of field operation management never possible before, with online tools to coordinate phone banking and neighborhood canvassing, to mobilize local citizens, to assess campaign impact.

The traditional “rule of thirds” that has dominated campaign fundraising has been flipped on its head due to the increasing willingness of individuals to make online transactions plus the significantly lower transaction costs of online giving.

The increasingly connected nature of society and the increased pace for social engagement are overwhelming traditional models for planning, funding and channeling public interest. New models require a different set of benchmarks, skills and training—changes that have very little to do with technology or the Internet and everything to do with building entirely new organizational cultures. Specifically, four areas of institutional-based civic engagement demand attention:

1. Design a connectivity culture that integrates technology and Internet communications with the sociology of engaging human beings.

2. Be nimble and quick to respond to current news and events, tying organizational issues to the often fleeting passion of the public.

3. Push power to the edges, actively encouraging and supporting citizens to help design and carry out their own organizing, and taking what they learn and improving the campaign with their suggestions.

4. Build network-centric leadership that establishes and supports “connectors,” invests in social capital, and develops new mechanisms for feedback and evaluation.

We are at a turning point in how Americans participate in civic discourse, where the barriers to full participation are lowered and the potential for powerful participation increased. While the last many years have focused on training individuals and building organizational capacity in specific areas, now is the time to “wire” these investments together while supporting new training, leadership and planning skills. The future of civic engagement belongs to communities and organizations that effectively align online and offline policy, strategy and campaign efforts with the passion and power of individuals.

About the Report:

Power to the Edges: Trends in Online Civic Engagement, commissioned by PACE-Philanthropy for Active Citizen Engagement ( and published by PACE and The E-Volve Foundation, provides an overview of the state of online civic engagement—what it is, where it is headed, and what it means for engagement efforts and those who support them. The preparation of this report included a review of relevant literature, monitoring of current online discussions on related topics, and in-depth interviews with leaders in the fields of online technologies, nonprofit capacity building, citizen engagement and social networks. This study is no ultimate guide, but a snapshot in time that serves as a jumping off point for further discussions about how these tools and the culture of online civic engagement can be further developed and scaled for broader, deeper and more lasting citizen action. Readers are invited to read the full report and participate in this ongoing dialogue at


Report authors: Jillaine Smith, Martin Kearns, and Allison Fine
Research assistant: Aaron S. Pava
Advisors and contributing editors: Jed Miller, Henri Poole, Dan Robinson

Seeking Stories about MobileActive Campaigns!

Mobileactive_ad Help. I am wokring on a project with our team at MobileActive to find examples and case studies of activists that make use of mobile phones in campaigns and organizing.

We're trying to track down campaigns using mobile phones for awareness building, voter registration, civic participation, event mobilization, fundraising and more. We are interested in learning about campaigns in any part of the world. As many of you know, we are currently tracking already many campaigns here and on our list.

Our goal is to compile an up-to-date set of "strategy memos" that showcase past successes and encourage new campaigns to use mobile phones as part of their civil society efforts.

Resources like these:
1. Stategy Guide to Using Mobile Phones in Civic Campaigns
2. GutterTech Guide to SMS: How To Employ a Zero to Low-Cost Trans-national SMS Strategy
3. Primer on Bulk SMS Messaging
4. Security Guide for Mobile Activists: Checklist and Tips

If you are involved in or are aware of any campaigns using mobile phones, please send us a note to info [at] mobileactive [dot] org and we will be in touch with you to learn more.

The MobileActive Strategy Memos are supported by the Surdna Foundation. MobileActive thanks Surdna and Vince Stehle for their support of this project.

We can always use help to continue the work so also please let us know if you can be helpful.

Real Youth Voices: YouTube - Hope: Myspace and YouTube Organizing for Peace

Here is an example of a high school peace activists (skyracer90) mashing together his own calls for brotherhood. From the way he has included a Twista song (powerpoint/video) to his connection with S.T.R.O.N.G (STRONG mySPACE) to the way Myspace connects him with 500 members.

He also was able to set up a multi-media, network building site all for free. In many ways, this site is more engaging than many of the site and much of the content our professional movement produces.

Link: YouTube - Hope.

Music: Hope by Twista ft. Faith Evans

Please visit S.T.R.O.N.G. "STRUGGLING TO REUNITE OUR NEW GENERATION". They are great people who are trying to put an end to gang violence. Visit them at:

This site is expressive without fancy words, collective (without tell-afriend), open for feedback and connected to culture and organizations. It is smart and a growing example of what our groups should be putting out there and encouraging members and staff to produce.

A few years ago a site with this open feedback and multi-media streaming would have cost thousands of dollars. Why do we still have so many brochureware movements?

Analytical Visions: US Senate Votes Cluster Network Map

How well does the Senate network work? Who votes with who? These visualizations of the Senate netork are really cool.


The map looks good but I don't understand some of the outlayers. Santorum is an outlayer? It would be nice to see his dot labled and a but of access to the "out" dataset. Most important is the idea that network maps provide managment tools.

Do you think the whip has one of these?

Link: Analytical Visions.

Senate voting patterns I have started analyzing the voting patterns in the Senate. Although this post involves political analysis, future posts may involve analysis of demographics, pop culture, sports, education, buying patterns, the stock market or anything else that I happen to be looking into at the time. I made a matrix that shows how often senators vote the same.

Congresspedia - SourceWatch

This is going to be fun. There is now an official open database on Congress! You Wiki and add the facts on the way your member voted, information on the staff and lots of other complete profile information that has been spread out across the web.

If you are developing a story or kicking out a web page that mentions a represenative (Don Sherwood) make sure you link to the Congresspedia page.

Link: Congresspedia - SourceWatch.

Welcome to the debut of Congresspedia, the “citizen’s encyclopedia on Congress.” Congresspedia is a bold new experiment by the Center for Media and Democracy ( and the Sunlight Foundation ( in distributed citizen journalism. It is based on the wiki model (think Wikipedia) and is a subset of the Center’s SourceWatch wiki. We are starting with 539 articles – one for every current member of Congress, the non-voting delegates, and former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. However, we hope that this is only the foundation upon which Congresspedia contributors (like you!) will build upon by not just adding to those profiles but also by creating new articles on any subject related to Congress that falls within the bounds of our policies and article guidelines.

Google Video News: Iraq Distributed TV

Some thoughts are slowly coming together on the power of distributed creation of content.

A few months ago, I suggested folks watch Epic 2015. It is an amazing look into the future . The movie presents the power of user generated content and the way technology and connectivity will change the media space forever.

While working on the Chevy Tahoe Ads, I came to understand the power of distributed content creation. The barriers to entry into being creative online were lowered to such a minimum threshold that anyone could participate.

The Chevy Ads campaign was to online content creation as Howard Dean was to online fundraising. Before Dean, we knew people donated online but are millions interested? The same dynamic just played out with Chevy Ads. (Sorryeverybody,, May's Field, Virtual Protest, Bushin30seconds) YouTube and Google video are taking this discussion and persuasion to a new level.

Our challenge to "see" the path where a connected culture begins to tell its own stories to each other without the middle man of media, organizaitons or political leaders. As advocacy groups, we need to create these pathways. Blogs have done that for those of us that like be wordy (yeah I am guilty) but for a huge segment of the population new tools open the use of video and voice to help them be more creative, honest and/or expressive with photos, video and voice.

Video from War Zone...

The tale from Iraq is starting to move from people to people. Across the network ties and tools of our time. Check out these links...

Sniper Fight in a Village - Can hear the Bullets Hitting the Tank

Private Contractor on a Job? Shooting at traffic and Anyone that comes close (very unsettling)

Cleaning out an ambush from a C130 gunship (killing Iraq's at a Distance)

Listen to the tale...Sending soldiers in to do police work. They flip a grenade into a room of a guy in a domestic abuse case. The guy sends the grenade out a window onto a family eating dinner

What are you doing to open up the story telling ability of our grassroots? Look at what the ways the connect public are organizing without you. Hope - Put an End to Gang Violence slideshow, video and mix pulled together on Youtube. Or cyber-banging .

People are organizing on the web with little or no money. On myspace or the hundreds of other sites the connected culture are offering tools that are more powerful than sites that cost tens of thousands of dollars just a few years ago.

Organizing is no longer merely about "being the voice" of the membership. New tools and new connectivity make the new challenge to empower the voices of the grassroots. Synchronize their voices and aggregate voices to inspire and inform each other. We need netcentric approaches to our campaigns and to find new ways to scale these emerging trends to power the next generation of social movements and social leadership.

12,000 ads and links to Chevy Ads: Google

So.. I was a bit interested in how "big" the Chevy Tahoe (Tahoe-ilban) ads were going and how viral the thing was getting. I am also interested in the "SPIN" Chevy

Google reports 12,000 links to user generated ads. A quick review of the top 500 (set your Google preferences to 100 per page) shows that most of those ads are not moving Chevy image but have been co-opted to serve other campaigns.

Google Link Search (

The Chevy ads tool closed the gap of power between PR firms and mass marketing teams (good video editing, sound tracks, etc.) and the public. This viral reaction to the Chevy ads did not only work because SUV's are bad. It worked because people that make their own funny ad can blast them out to larger and larger audiences. The nobodies on the street can whack at the public relations geniuses (like the Bushin30Seconds) with not only great creativity but now with great reach to audiences and powerful video and multi-media hosting (YouTube, Google video). It was simple for loose creatives that had the same idea on the ChevyAds to swarm and connect. It was easy to aggregate the ads into a bigger and high impact collection. Culture jamming is not new.

However, seeing a loose network quickly connect, (via the blogs, Im, email, media and skype) sequence (specialize and create ads, create many web sites, wikis and tools for working on the campaign) synchronize (20,000+ people to create ads and millions to view) and then distribute the ads via web and other media was an impressive display of the growing potential for a connected culture to act.

To those int he online strategy world this should be to content and pushing power to the edges what last years disasters were to online fundraising.

The power of the network...

What will you tell your kids you drove?


NPR : Chevy's Make-Your-Own SUV Ads Go Off Message: Understatement...

NPR and the fine art of media understatement. ....

Link: NPR : Chevy's Make-Your-Own SUV Ads Go Off Message.

April 3, 2006 ? Chevrolet has run into problems with its innovative Internet ad campaign for the Chevy Tahoe, which gives site visitors wide latitude in creating their own Tahoe ads. But the campaign, tied in with a contest for The Apprentice TV show, has created a somewhat of a backlash.

Nightline : Oh my gosh they are culture jamming our Chevy!

Last night around 6:30 Eric called to tell me that our ads were going to be on Nightline. He said they had called him and were requesting an interview. He wanted to know if I would come. It was fun.

We were hoping for a debate with PR folks or Chevy but they had plugged the SUV resistance into "Sign of the Times".

It was the first time either of us had been in ABC or a big TV headquarters. Eric and I had some great point to talk about SUV's, bad oil policy and the voice of the people in the ads.

When we got up to the floor the folks were really nice (it must come from working in such tight quarters.These folks (3 people plus a ton of equipment were stuffed into a windowless 8 by 10 office) OSHA should check that thing out. They wired up Eric and ran a 20 min interview over the phone.

Here is the clip.

The interview was OK and a bit fun. However, Eric and I died laughing when we walked down to leave and saw the ABC fleet parked under the building.


Yep. 14 Chevys. LOL.

Keep making those ads for fun. We will record them as political speech and turn them into a video of the good ones posted in the comments section.

weee.weee. Advertisers working to "spin" Chevy Tahoe Ad Disaster

From the NY Times, April 4, 2006..Chevy Tries a Write-Your-Own Ad Approach, With Predictable Results (my comments added)

In theory, the company was hoping that visitors to its Web site would e-mail their own videos around the Web, generating interest for the Tahoe through what is known as viral marketing. By the measure of Chevrolet Tahoe videos circulating the blogosphere and the video-hosting Web sites like YouTube, that goal was achieved.

But the videos that were circulated most widely like the commercial that attacked the S.U.V. for its gas mileage, may not be what Chevrolet had in mind. (understatement)

A spokeswoman for Chevrolet, Melisa Tezanos, said the company did not plan to shut down the anti-S.U.V. ads. "We anticipated that there would be critical submissions," Ms. Tezanos said. "You do turn over your brand to the public, and we knew that we were going to get some bad with the good. But it's part of playing in this space." ( have to love having your SUV associated with dead soldiers, terror, domestic spying, global warming, strong mixed sexual content, failure to be a good dad and stupid design.)

The campaign was created by Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich., part of the Interpublic Group of Companies....(Soon to be out of business with GM)

John Butler, creative director for Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, the agency in Sausalito, Calif., that created the Converse campaign, said user-generated content worked only if it fitted the product.(BINGO!)

Other companies that have experimented with user-generated content have had less tolerance for mockery.

"We think there are some voices inside G.M. that understand social media very well and knew this would happen," the post said. Mr. Neisser of Renegade said Chevrolet could have anticipated the way the Web site was manipulated. "Were they really expecting the consumer to make nice and create very pleasant movies?" he asked. "If they were, they haven't looked at anything on YouTube."

Oh. it is painful to watch. spin .spin, spin. (Remember submit your best ads in the comments.) So you really think they are not going to take it down?

Daily Kos: Chevy Ad.

Chevy... SUV's Getting Roasted...(Head in the Sand)

Step 1. Review the ads (some funny, some political).

Step 2. Make your Own (link is to the right bottom of any ad.)

Step 3. Post the link to the Ad in the comments. (from address bar)so we can save this.)

Step 4. Pick the date Chevy folds and takes down the site. (I give them 2 weeks)

My favorites:
Funny Chevy Ad - Oil

Chevy Ad - Tribute to brother in Iraq

Funny Chevy Ad - Who is that

Funny Chevy Ad - Little Piggy

Funny Chevy Ad - Hippy

Funny Chevy Ad - Impeach

Funny Chevy Ad - What?

Funny Chevy Ad - Yo.

Funny Chevy Ad - Hot hot

Link: Daily Kos: State of the Nation.

Check Out This Fake Ad Before Chevy Takes it Off

Chevy Ads : Network Culture Jamming the Apprentice (whack at Trump, GM and SUVs)

This is a great example of real voice vs. fake PR. The last post generated 43 ads in 48 hours.

Step 1. Review the funny ads.
Step 2. Make your Own (link is to the right bottom of any ad)
Step 3. Post your link (so we can save this.)
Step 4. Pick the date Chevy folds and takes down the site.

My favorites:

Funny Chevy Ad - Oil

Chevy Ad - Tribute to brother in Iraq

Funny Chevy Ad - Who is that

Funny Chevy Ad - Little Piggy

Funny Chevy Ad - Hippy

Funny Chevy Ad - Impeach

Funny Chevy Ad - What?

Funny Chevy Ad - Yo.

Funny Chevy Ad - Hot hot

You MUST try This: Culture Jam Chevy and Global Warming: Sloganator II

This is a BLAST. (Thanks Noah.) Chevy and the Apprentice set up a tool to create commercials for SUVs. They want you to create ads for their crappy products. It is a good idea but I don't think folks should be saving Chevy ad money.

These machines are driving us all to the edge on global warming. We are more dependent on oil and we are less safe. The owners try to "be cool" but are really like sheep manipulated by advertising and GM. Ride your SUV in traffic...what a waste.

Please make a funny ad and put a link in the comments... or send me your link via email. The network can take down this ad. Help people connect the dots between SUVs and global warming. Go get them.

Chevy Ads can be fun.

Someone please record these too.

My ad

My second ad

Chris Lundberg ad


Who Loves Flowers?

Distributed Research on Stardust Project - Public to look for dust grains in Stardust detectors

How do we find the dust? Ask the network.

Link: 01.10.2006 - Public to look for dust grains in Stardust detectors.

Astronomy buffs who jumped at the chance to use their home computers in the SETI@home search for intelligent life in the universe will soon be able to join an Internet-based search for dust grains originating from stars hundreds of thousands of light years away. In a new project called Stardust@home, University of California, Berkeley, researchers will invite Internet users to help them search for a few dozen submicroscopic grains of interstellar dust captured by NASA's Stardust spacecraft and due to return to Earth in January 2006. This aerogel array, which was mounted atop the Stardust spacecraft, was used to collect interstellar dust particles as well as dust from the tail of comet Wild 2.

Link: Stardust@Home - participation.

The only way that we can think of to find these exciting interstellar dust grains is to recruit talented volunteers to help us search. First, you will go through a web-based training session. This is not for everyone: you must pass a test to qualify to register to participate. After passing the test and registering, you will be able to download a virtual microscope (VM). The VM will automatically connect to our server and download so-called "focus movies" -- stacks of images that we will collect from the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector using an automated microscope at the Cosmic Dust Lab at Johnson Space Center. The VM will work on your computer, under your control. You will search each field for interstellar dust impacts by focusing up and down with a focus control. The more focus movies you examine, the better the chances are that you'll find an interstellar dust grain. But we have no minimum expectation -- you should search through focus movies as long as you're having fun doing it. Just remember that you are looking at the first collector that has gone into deep space and come back. This is a very special opportunity!



FOR MEDIA Contacts
Contact: Sue Cline: Volunteer : : Communications & Media Phone: (804) 230-3456
Contact: Marty Kearns: Volunteer : : Communications & Media (C ) 202-487-1887
Contact: Zack Rosen: Volunteer : : Technical and Engineering Lead (C) (724)612-7641

WASHINGTON, Friday, September 09, 2005 — The largest collection of data on the web about evacuees and survivors has been pulled together by volunteers and programmers working long hours for the last week. The is a collection of survivor information from across dozens of sites. The project was launched to provide information on survivors to family and friends across the web. The site forms a needed complement to a pending launch of newer efforts to organize data by the Red Cross, FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security.

The "official sites" will be focusing on new more structured data collected from people in shelters and from those interacting with government programs and relief organizations. is the complement to whatever official collection all the informal data from bulletin boards, discussion forms and sites across the web. will provide data to

Those seeking information on family should first search and then These sites represent the best collection of data and the best hope for helping family and friends locate each other.

Evacuees wishing to inform loved ones of their location can register or post information about survivors at
Report a Missing Person at

These are all voluntary and self-reporting tools. All media outlets and those hosting discussion boards, search tools and other information on survivors or offering connections to families are asked to redirect search traffic and data input to these sites.

Additional Background:
The project was launched as the core team started to realize that too many sites were collecting data and stories on families looking for or posting the status of their friends and neighbors. In the moments leading up to the storm dozens of sites launched services to help their members, including: New Orleans Newspapers (, TV and radio sites, Craigslist, CNN, MSNBC, Yahoo, Blogs and the Red Cross. In the hours following the storm companies, college students and volunteers began to set up databases for people to add and search information.

On Friday the 9th, The American Red Cross, with support of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement launched a web site and hotline to help assist family members who are seeking news about loved ones living in the path of Hurricane Katrina.

Dozens of message boards have sprung up around the country since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, promising to throw a technological lifeline to families that have been ripped apart. At the same time, the proliferation of registries has also made it increasingly difficult to figure out where to find information on missing loved ones.

"If I'm a refugee trying to find my brother, I would have to search 20 databases and 25 online forums," said David Geilhufe, chief executive of the Social Source Foundation, a charity set up to create software for other non-profits. "It's a huge problem."

Enter The all volunteer team created a searchable directory of persons displaced or affected by Hurricane Katrina, consolidating over 25 different online resources into one central, searchable repository. PeopleFinder Interchange Format, (called 'PFIF') is a new, standardized data format implemented in XML.

Katrina People Finder ( helps in the organization of data about people affected by major storms such as Hurricane Katrina and speeds searches by allowing many organizations to contribute to a central repository.The interchange format of Katrina People Finder makes automated search and retrieval of data about people quick and easy. Common data will help automated systems to connect displaced individuals via automatic categorization and matching.

The PeopleFinder database now contains just barebones information -- such as name, phone number, last known address and status. But Dean Robison of, a San Francisco software firm that is providing the technology to run the consolidated database, said it could easily be expanded in the future to speed rescue and relief operations in further disasters.

The Power of Community

The Katrina PeopleFinder Project mobilized hundreds of volunteers over the Labor Day weekend to make an immediate difference. That immediate difference is at, a searchable database of almost 400,000 PeopleFinder Interchange Format-compliant, volunteer-entered, missing and found persons reports from across the web. Having a single, searchable resource is critical due to limited internet access for evacuees and their families. The team plans to turn its attention to housing and job solutions next, creating a centralized technology solution that aggregates a comprehensive resource set from sites all across the web, standardizes them, and makes them searchable from anywhere.

Project Contributors
CivicSpace Labs ( is a funded non-profit organization and community collaborating with the Drupal ( project to develop a free/open-source software platform for online community organizing. CivicSpace enables bottom-up people-powered campaigns to operate on a more level playing field with more traditional top-down organizations, and, similarly, allows top-down organizations to leverage the power of grassroots organizing. Foundation ( was officially launched in July 2000 by Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell. The launch of the Foundation came less than a year after the launch of the company with the goal of building philanthropic programs at the very beginning of the company's existence rather than waiting until the company had reached a certain level of 'comfortable success'. Our belief is if emphasis is placed on social programs from a company's inception, the value of service will be a core cultural value that is built into the fabric of the company.

Social Source Software ( creates world-class software specifically for nonprofit and non-governmental organizations, usually under an open source license. Social Source Software works with organizations seeking to create enterprise grade websites, web applications, and other types of software.
Craigslist ( From its humble beginnings as an e-mail newsletter sent to friends in San Francisco, Craigslist has grown to be one of the largest online community bulletin boards, with 175 Craigslist sites in all 50 US states, and 34 countries. Craigslist was one of the earliest community sites to coordinate hurricane relief, rescue and reunion for Katrina survivors.

Environmentalists Kill the Purple Cow: Endangered Campaigns Need Seth Godin

I recommended Purple Cow to a few people this week so I thought I would go back and skim some of it. The book is a "must read" on the reading list for all campaign and nonprofit staff.

1. Why is it required reading?
Look at these releases. This is an entire month of releases from many of the top groups in the world. Here is a few more...NRDC, FOE and LCV. Scan them for 30 seconds. Wait 30 seconds... Can you remember titles? Did these release strike you as "values" based? Are they focus on connecting you with issues you care about? If you were a rporter and all these came on the same day which would you open? Which do you think the average reader would care about?

2. Where are people on the environment?
When asked to choose the single most important reason that they favor environmental protection, Americans identify the value of responsibility to future generations in greatest numbers. Nearly four in ten (39%) cite this as their main motivation, followed by respect for nature as God’s work (23%). The desire to protect the balance of nature ranks third at 17%.

A huge slice of people want to protect the environment because it is important to them spiritually .Remember any of that in the press releases? Work with people where they "are" and bring them to the "sale". Selling environmental protection based on science or policy that most people do not understand or care about is ineffective. Be environmentalists not wonks or science geeks. It is like the last time you saw a car ad? Are many of them based on the science behind the engine and tires (maybe the prius) or are they about lifestyle and personal priorities (safety, being hip, etc.) I can't believe the core communicaiotns experts in our movement are still fumbling around with basic communicaitons concepts. We need sound sceince from our science community. We need good policy from our policy wonks. We do not need to focus the communications and campaigns on their reports.

3. What was that campaign?
Don't add noise to the information overload. If your campaign won't work and doesn't spread don't release it. Go back to the drawing board again and again to find a way to present your message and campaign in a way that spreads. Really how hard was it to come up with the LiveStrong concept? If your story doesn't help retell itself then get some better thinkers on your team. A little money and extra effort now is a lot easier then spitting into the wind for the duration of the campaign.

4. Tap today's networks.
Once you have a message that can "spread" focus on places that can move messages effectively. (Network-centric advocacy is about focusing on the reach of loosely organized networks to connect in the modern age.) Think about all the people you know that have "reach" and find out what it takes for them to spread messages. (Why did millions of people forward the email petition to defend PBS?) How did it become a chain letter and an urban legend? Millions of people can spread the messages in PTA's, Moms groups and little league listserves. The most powerful "spreaders" in the movement do not work for your group. (Aim Fight)

5. Design to Get Out of the Way
Viral campaigns need help to self-organize. How are all the materials made available to support the spread of the idea or campaign? (Look at Alex's Lemonade) , MoveOn House Party or New American Dream's Alternative Gift Fare

Seth's book is a must read because Seth is great on these issues. As he says"

In a nutshell:
* Sell what people are buying
* Focus on the early adopters and sneezers
* Make it remarkable enough for them to pay attention
* Make it easy for them to spread
* Let it work its own way to the mass market.

Please read it once every few months so we end up with more campaigns like this: ForestEthics, Ben's BBs, Dnext, New York Campaign against the Death Penalty. or my current favorite Panducermat

Nice Live8 Technology debrief by EchoDitto

This is a great review of the Live8 smartness. Many of the techniques highlighted are about giving people the opportunity to connect and synchronize the positive energy generated by the concert.

(1) Taking advantage of the traffic :: On the official Live8 site, you can "sign the Live8 list" for G8 leaders via SMS or online or upload your photo to be added to a wall of faces at the G8 -- no gallery yet?!. (Reminds me of the almost 2,500 photos submitted online at!). Nice clear asks taking advantage of all available technology, coupled with some solid video and exclusive content.
(2) Technorati Tagging the Blog Buzz :: Technorati sponsored what may be the first global online tagging event, encouraging bloggers to tag their posts with "live8" so that they could be counted in the global online discussion, accompanied by a syndicated image. It's a clever corporate marketing effort for Technorati, the blog tracking service, and also an excellent great way to put a mirror on the buzz being generated. As of right now, there are 12,073 blog posts tagged with Live 8, and 50 bloggers were invited to go backstage.
(3) [secret?] Party Planning Guide from ONE :: Despite the lack of online promotion for these viewing parties, someone at ONE knows what they're doing when it comes to online organizing... Check out their excellent house party guide (PDF) -- includes feedback form, signup sheet, and good background material for hosts. It's impressive—bordering on dense—and happens to follow a general template that we developed for grassroots meetup organizers on the Dean campaign. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell from the One Blog if any of these Live 8 parties even took place... Here's to hoping!

(4) 2.9 million TV viewers -vs- 5 million web watchers :: AOL has a more global reach than ABC, but it's still an impressive statistic. Reuters reports, "ABC's two-hour highlights special from the Live 8 concerts drew just 2.9 million viewers Saturday, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research, far fewer than the 5 million users who logged on for AOL's free live video streaming coverage."

I would add the integration with Itunes to sell music (i think they sold a million copies of the Sgt. Pepper song?) , the SMS mess aging to show support (like a new wave of the old Jerry Lewis telethon) by the public. And effective play on the event drive timeline of the G8 summit (media savvy with a touch of political smarts).

FUH2 - F You And Your H2: Decentralized Campaign

Here is a brilliant example of building a common story across a sub-culture of people who hate Hummers. The home of the official Hummer H2 salute. The network of folks that know these vehicles are a disgraceful display of sloth and obesity of American culture are looking for ways to express a joint statement disgust.

A key operating principal in the networked world is to find ways to synchronize lots of little contributions and in the process inspire more to take the action.

A simple flip of the bird in the street is not going to do much but when the act is synchronized with thousands of others and aggregated together online the statement becomes much more powerful (and funny).

The home of the official Hummer H2 salute. There are lots of these in DC with Texas plates. It is a two-for-one deal.

People can have voice without using words.

Superbowl Organizing: FootBall, Friends, Beer and Network-Centric Activism

This landed in my inbox from Environmental Defense.

It was a plea to co-opt the millions of house parties (on Superbowl Sunday) into organizing events. It is a great strategy to tap into the culture trend and turn it to a teaching and organizing moment. this is classic "turn their strengths" against them tactics.

It would be really nice to see lots of people spark a backlash against the commercialism to raise funds for charities and do something useful. Brilliant! Pass the Chips and the Petition.

Voice to the Story: Listen to Mp3 of a Phone Testimony

Here is a really cool example of giving members voice and opportunity to speak to each other.

Thousands of families from all across the nation have called our Give Voice to Our Values phone line (866-876-4490) and left one compelling message after another about the need to put Kids First.
Listen for yourself. Hear some of the moving testimony about the importance of passing the Kids First Act of 2005 and providing health insurance to the 11 million American children now living without it:
This is the first nationwide online public hearing on an issue before the Congress. The thousands of testimonials we've received from concerned Americans are an invaluable contribution to the fight for better health care in our country.

Listen: Mp3 of the Call

Political Jib Jabbers Kicking Your Membership and Marketing Department's Tail: Will You Reorganize Your Campaign Strategy to be Network-Centric?

Micah L. Sifry kicks out a fantastic summary of the current shifts in advocacy strategy and approaches to organizing on AlterNet.

Network-Centric politics is on the rise for 2 reasons.
1. Failure of leadership to listen and engage the public.
2. The rapid "wiring" of the public.
Since you can't ever listen too much and there is no sign of society slowing down the march of connectivity the question is then when will you realize it is time to change your strategy? Is the movement waiting for a particular event? Are our leaders and key funders waiting for a further decline in political power? More proof that online organizing works? Proof that it is possible to raise money online?

To the first point:

They were replaced by a proliferating array of professionally run, top-down advocacy organizations, like the AARP and Natural Resources Defense Council. "America is now full of civic entrepreneurs who are constantly looking upward for potential angels, shmoozing with the wealthy," Skocpol writes, rather than talking to people of modest means.
But it is also true that insiderism and elitism have recently come under heavy attack, as everyone from Trent Lott to Dan Rather can attest. And it's not just Congress and big media whose hierarchies are being challenged; nonprofits and interest groups are feeling the ground shift too. "Members Unite! You have nothing to lose but your newsletters and crappy coffee-cup premiums," read the title of a recent post on, a blog devoted to fostering this movement. New web-based tools are facilitating a different way of doing politics, one in which we may all actually, not hypothetically, be equals; where transparency and accountability are more than slogans; and where anyone with few resources but a compelling message can be a community organizer, an ad-maker, a reporter, a publisher, a theorist, a money-raiser or a leader.

To the second:

Consider these harbingers:

* About two-thirds of American adults use the internet, and more than 55 percent have access to a high-speed internet connection at either home or work.

* More than 53 million people have contributed material online, according to a spring 2003 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

* More than 15 million have their own web site.

* A new blog, or online journal, is created every 5.3 seconds, according to, a site that tracks the known universe of these easily updated web sites. As of Nov. 1, there were almost 4.3 million blogs, a million more than three months before. More than half of them are regularly updated by their creators, producing more than 400,000 fresh postings every day.

* A well-written blog, Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo, gets more than 500,000 monthly visitors – as many as the entire web site of The American Prospect, the magazine where Marshall used to work, at a fraction of the cost.

* Of the approximately 400,000-500,000 people who attended a political meeting through the social-networking site this election season, half had never gone to a political meeting before. 60 percent were under 40.

*Attendees of Meetups for Democratic Party presidential candidates reported making an average of $312 in political contributions last year.

*A two-minute political cartoon lampooning both Kerry and Bush, put out by this past summer, had 10 million viewings in the month of July – three times the number of hits on both presidential campaign web sites combined – and has since been viewed another 55 million times.

Really the only question to "professionals" that remains is a question about how your resources, talents, expertise and wisdom will participate in the new system of advocacy that is evolving. Are you going to continue to keep your strategy based on the "pull them off and make them members" or shift to a "push our talents and tools out to empower people who are connecting on their own?" Are your sending staff to existing meetups to embed them within a larger group or are you starting your own smaller meetup? Have you asked how many of your members Blog? Ever asked them to coordinate a post on a story or topic? Are you taking viral marketing seriously or do you think it is "brilliant" but really do nothing to experiment with it in your work?

The trends and trajectory are easy to see over the business world and now in political campaigns when we connect our off line bricks more effectively with our online presence as a movement? When will we truly network the movement and adopt network-centric strategies?

Kudos to Micah

WalMart Hurts Communities But Likes Search Engine PR Tricks

Wal-Mart boosts investments to drive people to corporate public relations site (nice move considering all the ways WalMart short changes women, minorities, destroy's communities and exacerbates sprawl all while they accelerate the out source of jobs to other countries). It is nice to see them pay big bucks for internet strategy for the public relations arm.

Wal-Mart is going on the offensive, and in a small but significant way, it has turned to paid search to help alleviate its woes.

Last week, the retail giant launched to tell its story, backed by a massive print campaign. To help drive traffic to the site, Wal-Mart purchased paid search ads through Overture.

Type "walmart labor" in Google and the top-ranked page is a February 2004 Congressional report called "Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart."

I called Wal-Mart to find out more about their paid search campaign. The representative couldn't answer strategic questions but shed a bit of light in her own way. "We did a media buy," she said. "We bought whatever we bought."

"we bought whatever we bought" ,,sounds like a really nice and friendly public relations person. However, I would be a bit grumpy too if I spent my time defending one of the largest companies in the world that thrived on externalize costs of ethical business.

"We see a downward spiral within the community that is led by Wal-Mart," Miller said at a news conference at his Concord office.

Substandard pay and health care benefits for Wal-Mart workers allow the firm to charge very low prices that force nearby stores to slash their workers' pay and benefits in order to compete, said Miller, ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Wal-Mart the largest employer in both the United States and Mexico, imposes financial burdens on local governments. A certain percentage of its workers must turn to subsidized medical care, free school lunches, housing subsidies and other taxpayer- supported welfare services, Miller said.

Lessons for advocacy groups from this sham Walmart campaign. Wal-Mart is jumping on the defense and using the website as a central campaign hub. (I imagine the minions of Wal-Mart managers and spokesperson pinched between economic security for their families and town activists will use the Wal-Mart campaign site as a training ground and talking points for all those that encourage exporting money from their community)

Wal-Mart needed to be more aggressive as the lawsuits, media criticism, and rumors mounted. The centerpiece is the Web site. Ads lead to the site, and the site provides a central channel to inform the messaging that the company carries out to the world.

Smart campaign strategy. Greedy Family.