The Agitator Recap on Mobile 2012

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

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

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

Activity by age shows the expected pattern

via www.theagitator.net

Is Mobile  a part of your strategy? 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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. ...

 


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

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

What will happen with the video?

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

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

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

Loudsauce looks very cool.


Network-Centric Success? Read the Health Care Campaign Evaluation

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

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

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

What I liked?

What was missing from the report in my opinion?

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

 

What is worth further discussion?

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

via www.theagitator.net

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


Engagement Unpacked and Debated

Gideon Rosenblatt is enjoying “retirement” digging into some important concepts that feed social change.  His riffs are must read content for serious organizers (online and on land). I like his focus on teasing apart the spectrum of “engagement”. I love his work.  I enjoy debating with him via blog post to sharpen my thinking and figure out what he is saying.  These posts are thought provoking. 

Engagement is important to define. However, I don’t think I like the way it is defined here. I don’t like the way he set up the word engagement to be tied to productivity. I also react negatively to the idea that  to the idea …

“The art of engagement centers on knowing when to invest in relationship building and when to tap relationships to get work done.”

In this framework, you are not engaged if you are in a relationship (connection of ideas and discussion) and you are not engaged if you are doing weekly tasks for someone.  It is only engagement by connecting the relationship to tasks.Or as the Church used to say “faith without works is dead”

“Engagement is what brings tasks and relationships together. Engagement is the process of building relationships with people and putting those relationships to work to accomplish some goal.”

In this model, unless we use some really loose definitions of task and relationship then solidarity, alliance, alignment and accompaniment are not engagement. Learning from another (is that a task or transactional?) This definition makes “issue engagement” focus on a defined set of relationships and tasks.  I don’t think that is consistent with my experience.

Getting work done with other people is hard. Getting work done by people that you don’t pay is harder. In this framework, engagement is a proxy for making people work because they like you. Again, I disagree.

It is hard to work with people when you don’t pay them. However, there are lots of reasons for failure outside the relationship/task balance. When you are not paying them, they need to either like the work (you don’t matter) or they like you, or they expect rewards in the future, or the do it because they hate who you are also working against. Are you “engaged” with other people when you are at a rally together but don’t know each other?

Finally, this framework of engagement also seems makes engagement “scarce”.  I am struck that engagement in the model is not regenerative. You “discharge” relationship points to get things done and when you are “broke” of relationships you have no capacity to get tasks done together and still be “engaged”.

Engagement is about promise and entanglement. Like one of captains on Star Trek “Engage”. Engagement comes from the “engagement period”. The groups that are great at engagement are the groups that know how to create promise. These groups entangle their allies together close and far with attention and listening and excitement.  Those that excel at engagement often align people into action but it is important to unpack and tease farther apart failure to effectively “work” an engaged public in a productive direction and the failure to be successful at engagement. 

If you want to build engagement create promise and entangle with your audience (listening, work, learning, accompaniment, campaigns, actions, etc). If you want the engaged group to be productive empower your network leaders to get things done, and invest in the network capacity of the engaged group to share, collaborate, adapt, and act collectively.

Engage.


Oil in the Gulf Widget

I like these tools to help tell the story. This widget misses a few important tweaks that would make it more valuable for both the user and PBS.

1. Sign up for updates on this story. (Name recruitment for PBS). Thank you emails should have links to charities and actions in them.

2. Donate to news coverage of the gulf coast spill. (short video talking about the cost of covering the story)

3.  The logo link to news hour should be all the Gulf spill coverage NOT the homepage.

4. Tell your story of the Gulf like this..link 

5. Watch the Mos Def the Gulf Aid track, 'Ain't My Fault.' http://bit.ly/acApvO#mb

 Oil in the Gulf.


Social Media Campaigns are Data Driven

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

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

View more presentations from Rapleaf.


Saving Money With Smart Research and Smarter Defaults




Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness have articulated the benefits of default choices in encouraging positive behavior for workers and organizations. Though those books talk about default choices in the context of retirement choices for workers, the key lesson that's been learned is how efficiencies can be gained simply by offering smart defaults.

via expertlabs.org

What are the defaults that you have set the wrong way at your organization?   What does making it easy mean in the world of activism?



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

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

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

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

via michaelstein.typepad.com

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



Human Nature Doesn't Change: Human Behavior Does.

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

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

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

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

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



Twitter Cofounder Jack Dorsey On Using Twitter For Social Change

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

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

 

Jack Dorsey nails it… Good Huffington Post Interview…

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

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

Twitter Cofounder Jack Dorsey On Using Twitter For Social Change


Engagement without Joining - Youth Vision

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

The youth are not interested in

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

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


Facebook as a Financial Platform?

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

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

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

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

Facebook’s Gift Shop Sings A New Tune


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Super Crunchers : The Future of Advocacy Evolution?

No more experts and intuition. Look at the data trends. Storage to $0 and processing power out the wazoo available for everyone.   What massive datasets do you have? What data sets can you create with a little investment.


Here are some applets that give you a sense of the kinds of things that Super Crunching can help predict. Use them at your own risk (The lawyer in me feels compelled to emphasize that I make no representation as to their accuracy). .

No Excitement About Recovery on Facebook

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

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

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

 

image

 

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


Healthcare little pulse on Facebook: Where is the campaign?

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

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

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

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

 


Social Movements are Self-Serve

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

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

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

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

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

Building self-serve systems requires a completely different design.

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

Rule #1 Provide a Benefit to Customers

Rule #2 Make Transactions Intuitive

Rule #3 Show Customers What to Do

Rule #4 Choose the Right Locations

Rule #5 Beware of Legacy Systems

Rule #6 Take a Test-Drive

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


Shifting the Costs of Organizing to the Community

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

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

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

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

 

Costs Have Shifted to the Consumer

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

people & data » featured

 

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


Vontoo: Calling My Campaign

I will be using this asap. The power of voice and phone connected with the web.  I can see a few options from phone bank reminders to a small event, reminders for house parties for everyone in a zip from the database, etc.  It is just another way to leap content and organizing across divides.

Vontoo is a market-leading provider of automated voice messaging solutions. Our robust and flexible product offerings allow organizations of all sizes to leverage the power of voice in order to build brands, drive revenues, increase operational efficiencies and solve complex communication challenges.

When it comes to communication, nothing can compare to the power, excitement and authenticity of the human voice. Vontoo was founded with a clear mandate - to bring the power of voice marketing and communication to organizations eager to leverage its seemingly endless capabilities.

Vontoo


African Americans, Hispanics Lead Mobile Web Growth

This kind of data consistently comes up in online organizing. who has access and what do the trends look like. I thought this was really interesting. I worry a little about the English survey skewing the results but broadband in the home ranging between 37% and 68% means that opinion leaders in almost all the groups will have access.

The Hispanics surveyed reported the highest penetration of cellphone ownership, at 89 percent. On a typical day, 14 percent of English-speaking Hispanics reported playing music and 5 percent reported watching video on a cellphone or PDA. In terms of overall digital activities, English-speaking Hispanics who are online or are cell phone users outscored the other two groups.
The study was conducted in English, so the Hispanic population surveyed was skewed to a higher socioeconomic group, the study notes. When Spanish speakers were factored in to Pew's December 2008 study, the rate of broadband penetration in Hispanic homes was counted at 37 percent, while in the most recent study of English-speaking Hispanics, the rate was 68 percent.

African Americans, Hispanics Lead Mobile Web Growth


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

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

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

 

image 

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

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


True Spin: a National Conference on Media Relations for Progressives

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

A PR Conference for Progressives

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

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

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

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

True Spin: a National Conference on Media Relations for Progressives


Google Flu Trends

This is interesting. Google Flu tracks symptom searches for flu and normalizes it over all searches. Google Flu shows past years too.

The entire US curve is still pretty consistent with past years.

image 

Mexico is showing an uptick that is different from other years.

image

Texas is showing the same trend as Mexico.

image 

Google Flu Trends


GroupTweet

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

Group message broadcasting for Twitter

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

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

GroupTweet


DonorsChoose.org 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
DonorsChoose.org Carolinas

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DonorsChoose.org Blog: Education in the spotlight: Support classrooms like Ty’Sheoma Bethea’s!


Logistics, Networks and New Intelligence

IBM is on to some really brilliant network thinking.  They are zeroing in on the feedback mechanisms that make all network able to grow smarter.  They are pushing the new energy grid, new health care and new supply chains.  It is exactly this kind of approach that will make a big difference in our movements. We need to be offering the feedback that makes our movement grow smarter (search terms, sign ups, click thru rates, donation success, distribution rates, GOTV, etc. )  we need ways to visualize summaries of massive amounts of activity (www.capitalwords.org) (foreclosure heat) We need to understand our collective sensors and work to refine, standardize sharing (congressional heat index) .

We see an emerging set of this information in twitter apps and facebook apps that analyze  your personal networks, Rapleaf, Raidian6 and Morningside-Analytics our job as advocacy and campaign planners is to first daylight the information, visualize it and then discover the new kinds of knowledge we need to run better, larger and more effective campaigns without centralized management.

Strategically, the study notes that:

“Building this kind of [smarter] supply chain is a strategic undertaking; it implies a different role and set of responsibilities for supply chain executives. These executives must become strategic thinkers, collaborators and orchestrators.”

What will make these webs of production and distribution smarter? Different kinds of sensors and information technologies will make supply networks more instrumented and interconnected. But what’s ultimately required are the analytical resources to extract new, actionable intelligence from such complex systems. What kind of new intelligence do we mean, and what actually is new about it?

“New intelligence” will flow from advanced computing techniques and expertise that can reveal insight from rivers of real-time information. Innovations in data visualization, predictive modeling and simulation software will make new kinds of knowledge possible, and lead to more evidence-based decision making.

A Smarter Planet: New Intelligence for Smarter Supply Chains


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 (laidoffcamp.org) 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?

The Network Changes Everything..

The centrality of group effort to human life means that anything that changes the way groups function will have profound ramifications for everything from commerce and government to media and religion. Page 16 Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky

 

This is just one of the many lines that I have made notes on in my copy of Clay's book. I struggled for a while, feeling like the guy with a hammer who sees everything as a nail. I could understand that once I had started playing around with the network organizing principles why it just seems so pervasive. Clay's book does a good job at nailing my perspective. So much of what we do as people spins out from our social nature. We built networks because we must. Networks are our survival mechanisms. We are in some ways like ants evolving over 10,000 years to become highly colonized hives of people colonized living in an ecosystem with other networks of people. These changes in creating and managing networks, the reduction in barriers to participation in the network, and the new scales of networks are changing everything.

 

It is uncomfortable to say that the networks change everything but they do. They are in the process of rebooting our global commerce system, our religions, the way we fight, the way we produce food, the way we manage our security, the ways we do our accounting of our friends, and the way we stay in touch with the people that matter most to us.

 

We are add a transition point in the rebooting process, we still have many parts of the network that have not "migrated" and the role of some of us ants is to get busy connecting and wiring the new system.


News Media Shifts

Here is a great link from the PTP blog.

The story here is about the way that nonprofits can use the error position in the community to cover stories and generate press. As mainstream media falls, people will still want news stories. People are still interested in coverage, the problem with the media is that they are being attacked on both sides of their business model. On the classifieds and advertising side they are getting pressure from online competitors, and as this story shows they are also getting be generating stories.

If news consumers will turn to bloggers and random people on the street, there is no reason to believe that they won't turn to local nonprofits as experts. It may be a two or three-year investment, but the value of dominating the web space on the coverage of your issue will be enormous.

It will be interesting to monitor the nonprofits to hire journalists to cover stories, or communities that get together to commission stories (spot.us).


REVERB CRIB Notes » we read it so you don’t have to.
According to Reuters Director of News Media Development, Chris Cramer, “Every key event going forward will be covered by members of the public, and not by traditional journalists.” At nearly every major event of the last few years–from the earthquake in Sichuan to the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks–journalists have been trumped by bystanders news-gathering with their cell phones, cameras, camcorders and blackberries. The effect on the newspapers industry has been devastating with media titans like the Tribune Company declaring bankruptcy and local papers like The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (and 16 others) shuttering their D.C. news bureaus. The financial crisis and the Internet have created a perfect storm that is ending news as we know it. Why should local grassroots groups care? On one hand it’s going to be harder to get cash-strapped reporters to cover our events. And whatever minimal investigative reporting currently exists will surely fade into the background over the coming months and years.

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

www.web-strategist.com.



OpenRegulations.org and CapitolWords.org

Tracking government actions a hobby of yours? Here is a new interface that tracks agencies and generates an RSS feed of rulemaking notices. Want a view of the trends check these out..


capturing the full text of the House, Senate and Extension of Remarks sections of the Congressional Record for every day, dating back to the second session of the 106th Congress (January 20, 2000), via GPO Access and storing it on Sunlight's LOUIS database. Sunlight then runs a query on LOUIS to calculate the most commonly used words for a given day, with some exceptions, (described in more detail below). Each afternoon, the daily counts for the previous day are added to the Capitol Words database.


Link: OpenRegulations.org.

OpenRegulations.org is an alternative interface to the federal government's Regulations.gov regulatory dockets database. Below are the newest agency notices of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register. Click on a regulation's title to go to that docket's page. To see a particular agency's dockets, choose the agency from the menu to the right. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed of a particular agency's rulemaking notices.

Capitalwords


The story of culture shift told from Youtube. (Great Presentation at the Library of Congress)

Mike Wesch Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology of Kansas State University does a fantastic overview of the culture shift. He looks at Youtube as anthropologic study area.

It is definitely worth watching.

Mike presents a strong case that culture is shifting the way that people connect and build relations. It shows how new culture creates synchronizing effects. It is only a matter of time that organizing in a political sense gets reshaped by these forces.

As passionate progressive organizers we want to get the jump on this organizing and find formulas and frameworks that are road maps to pull these together around the big issues of the day.

How do we organize in this new context? Yes, we need a new plan and a new model to organize political power. It is context that makes network-centric advocacy the right place to be focusing our attention.


Benkler on TED

I have said it before Yochai Benkler is my hero. (hard to read ..better to watch)

This is a good background on the foundation of what trends are really playing with modern movement organizing. Network-centric advocacy stems from exactly the trends that Yochai introduces here. As Benkler's ides sink in it transforms the way you think about organizing and what is possible.

The challenge for the movement is to think about network production and social change endeavors. The model of radical distributed campaigns are just taking shape in our sector. Long-term campaigns built deliberately around network organizing are just being contemplated by the leaders in our sector.

The web and these networks are going to transform social change movements but not just in fundraising. It could easily be argued that in America today our successful social movements are not dealing with a scarcity problem from a lack of resources (ask AARP).

Money was a problem in social movements. Organizing solved this problem and focused on addressing the scarcity of money (both Presidential opted out of public financing) by compiling small donations.

As time of supporters becomes scarce in political and social organizing the challenge and opportunity for the sectors is to collect smaller parts and build them into something wonderful.


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.

Why?
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?

Progressexchange_cloud


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.
http://www.netsquared.org/2008/conference/projects/email-advocacy-index

We also ran on Center for American Progress emails....over on our blog.
http://netcentriccampaigns.org/advocacy-email-index

A better title would also be great. (comments)


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.



Birdcinema: New way to build birding community!

how are the groups you are working on lands conservation, birding, habitat conservation posting something visual and compelling out there? Why was a private company vs. big birding groups the first to launch user generated content site like this? This is beautiful. Figure out how to get conservation ads on this site.







I need to dig around on the web and figure out how to hack a channel like this out of youtube or rever functionality integrated with a simple site to create the same effect.


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 http://www.contentious.com/, 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, BoulderCarbonTax.org.

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.

...social 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.


Mashup: Don't Fight the Internet : Advocacy and Political Organizing

This Link: O'Reilly Radar > Web 2.0 Compact Definition: Trying Again. has kick started another level of thinking about network-centric advocacy and organizing in the age of connectivity.

We are not after profits but social change. We are not building software companies but advocacy and political engines.

What is the meaning of "the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform." in advocacy and political contexts? Who is the network?(the people and the social, issue and brand bonds among them) and how can the people be "the platform" for change? (we become a functional mechanism as a unit ... not just through organized nonprofits or parties)

"Think deeply about the way the internet works, and build systems and applications that use it more richly, freed from the constraints of PC-era thinking, and you're well on your way." In our context of advocacy we need to understand the way these large scale people networks work and build systems of change or campaigns that use these networks in new ways and freed from the constraints of organizational organized change.

Much like the new world of software development we need to think of campaigns in perpetual beta. Campaigns are not set by decree and packaged and rolled out to a public in precut brochures and media events. New campaigns like beta software are "process of engagement with your users" support by network staff supporting and adjusting the product based on valid feedback.

As a movement, we must "Open your data and services for re-use by others, and re-use the data and services of others whenever possible. ("Small pieces loosely joined")" from mediadata to government contacts to creative commons of our reports, polls, opinion research images and other works.

We must "build applications that reside in the space between devices. ("Software above the level of a single device")" We must look at the social and issue ties across the movement and build campaigns and resources to serve those campaigns in a way that they are not locked into silos of companies, organizations or issue groups. We must create issue and campaign commons and the rules needed to protect the commons.

There are lots of quotes and bits here to chew on but the "advocacy network as platform" is the next step to movement as network"

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I've elsewhere called "harnessing collective intelligence.")
(Eric Schmidt has an even briefer formulation of this rule: "Don't fight the internet." That's actually a wonderful way to think about it. Think deeply about the way the internet works, and build systems and applications that use it more richly, freed from the constraints of PC-era thinking, and you're well on your way. Ironically, Tim Berners-Lee's original Web 1.0 is one of the most "Web 2.0" systems out there -- it completely harnesses the power of user contribution, collective intelligence, and network effects.


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..

Starter:
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
possible.
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


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.