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

 

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

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

 


Seattle Initiative 103: Limiting Corporate Rights and Elevating Peoples' Rights

Initiative 103 will change the law in Seattle to:

  • Ban corporate spending on elections, reversing Citizens United
  • Ban corporate lobbying except in public forums
  • Strip Corporate Personhood and judge-made corporate "Constitutional" rights
  • Establish a Community Bill of Rights for Seattle which includes Rights for Workers, Rights for Neighborhoods and Rights for Nature to protect our environment. Learn more...

via envisionseattle.org

Is this the next evolution of the occupy movement?  Did the reactions last summer create space for an agenda to emerge? It will also be interesting to watch how the opposition moves against the prop.

 This is worth watching.  I love the idea of a ban on lobbying except in public forums.   


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? 


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

  

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

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

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

How does my game playing contribute to curing diseases?

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

 


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

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

via en.wikipedia.org

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

How is your movement building a “compound bow”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

via www.thenetworkthinkers.com

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

via www.theatlanticcities.com

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

Where does it go from here?  

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

 


Evolving to pull off the revolutions necessary for our own survival.

 

We live in a society that is clearly evolving to be able to pull off the revolutions necessary for our own survival.  In social context, network strength grows proportionally to the threat to the network.   Yes, the outcome of the current revolutions are not yet certain but we can easily  observe and document the growing strength of the network as a mechanism. The network connectivity is the key to revolutions.   
We are facing network scale, global and complex challenges but we are also evolving and inventing our human capacity as a network to adapt and respond to the problems we face.(huge riff material)

 We are scaling our ability to communicate and exert pressure across all kinds of borders to meet the challenges.  I worry more about our ability to wield revolution more so than the stagnation of society. 

 
I am less "sold" on the idea that the transfiguration role technology plays is about maintaining connections and facilitating coordination. I am more focused on acknowledging that technology is shifting US. We are accelerating our capacity to work and learn. The effect is transforming our perspective and behavior. We are becoming more networked as a global species building tribes and friendships and collaborations that are redefining the norms of relationships (working, personal, production).  
Technology is redefining what constitutes a "relationship" and as such changes the DNA of how we think about working together.   This shift will follow us online and offline. 
Network participation is adding to our personality. We are seeing our networks shape people in many ways as powerfully as their global location, cultural backgrounds, education, up bringing,  or economic plights. (for better and worse.) As more people identify more tightly with the network perspective to identity, then relationships and problem solving we will see a massive shift in behaviors.  
As a species, we are the the only one that can create "tangible" from symbolic. Think of the idea of a currency. We watched "trade" move from tangible swap of bread for pelts or meat, to shells, to gold, to bill representing gold, to digital. Something very real and very personal became "scalable". Imagine NYSE working on barter with pelts. 
Networks and relationships are becoming scaleable. We are literally building and maintaining ties (fame) that are no more real than digital money.  We are going to continue to see networks reshape our solutions.
In my expereince, sorting out the organization role and state of the sector is almost irrelevant. They are important and will continue to adapt to the people in them but the biggest gap lies in  sorting out how to build netcentric campaigns and work with emerging networks to manage their capacity for creating useful revolutions.



 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Utility is power and general utility is power squared.

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

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

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


The networked radar detector:

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

via gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com

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

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

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

This is a really interesting space.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggesting change

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

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

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

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


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. ...

 


Managing Shared Resources as important as a shared vision in Netcentric organizing?

I have been thinking about the struggle to prioritize network elements. Do you focus on one first? Traditional leaders seem to want to drive emerging networks to create a vision first but I am no longer sold on that framework.

Does a network need a vision? Yes, but does it need a vision more than communication grid, shared resources, feedback mechanisms,etc... Maybe not. Arriving at a shared vision is an exercise of trust exchanges, communications, language clarity. Driving for a shared vision before the other components of the network are built is just as much as a recipe for failure as never driving for one at all.

With that in mind, this came across my radar today....

OccupyWishList.org, a simple platform where people who want to give direct support to occupiers in need of things like blankets, batteries, sleeping bags and the like can connect with each other. OccupyWishList doesn't just make it easy for people to list their needs or their willingness to meet them; Mintz says the site will also work to ensure that connections and commitments are actually met, or a need will get relisted.


Build the network as you can.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

What will happen with the video?

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

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

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

Loudsauce looks very cool.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food for Thought

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

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

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

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

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

Leader full movements are not leaderless.

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

Movements Diversify to Grow : Focus when power is needed.

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

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

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

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

Advocacy will always be a high risk business.

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

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

1. The Network Managers Rapid Network Assessment of OccupyWallStreet

Netcentric Advocacy Element

OcccupyWallstreet Example

Trust

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

Common Story

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

Communications Grid

Vision

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

Shared Resources

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

Feedback

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

Network Actors

 

weavers

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

drivers

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

operations

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

participants

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

My suggestions on a “Network Action Plan”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to expect?

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

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


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

 

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

The campaign is

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

Does your Group have the DNA of a dancer or campaign team? MIT management professor Tom Malone on collective intelligence and the “genetic” structure of groups » Nieman Journalism Lab » Pushing to the Future of Journalism

This MIT study of group DNA is interesting and related to the advocacy mix in a network of people working on a campaign. 

Unpacking the right group DNA for specialized tasks is going to be most useful. I wonder if seqence of how the DNA comes together also makes a difference.  

This group DNA assessment gives rise to an entire classification  and intervention system.  I have been thinking about that in a network/organizational context since grad school (Dave Rosgen's Watershed Assessment) /  the beauty of it is that such systems and assessment tools open up conversations about similar networks. How can 2 people talk about 2 networks and know that they are both looking at a system that is going to behave similarly.

This biggest issue I have with the group DNA isea is that groups change constantly (unlike Dna).
 
MIT management professor Tom Malone on collective intelligence and the “genetic” structure of groups » Nieman Journalism Lab » Pushing to the Future of Journalism.  Groups form for all kinds of reasons, but we generally pay little attention to the discrete factors that lead them to form and flourish. Just as understanding humans’ genetic code can lead us to a molecular understanding of ourselves as individuals, mapping the genome of groups may help us understand ourselves as we behave within a broader collective. And that knowledge, just as with the human genome, might help us gain an ability to manipulate group structures. When it comes to individuals, intelligence is measurable — and, thus, it has a predictive element: A smart kid will most likely become a smart adult, with all the attendant implications. Individual intelligence is fairly constant, and, in that, almost impossible to change. Group intelligence, though, Malone’s findings suggest, can be manipulated — and so, if you understand what makes groups smart, you can adjust their factors to make them even smarter. The age-old question in sociology is whether groups are somehow different, and greater, than the sum of their parts. And the answer, based on Malone’s and other findings, seems to be “yes.” The trick now is figuring out why that’s so, and how the mechanics of the collective may be put to productive use. Measuring group intelligence, in other words, is the first step in increasing group intelligence.

I really like this group level thinking.  I look forward to more research in this space. Sandy Pentland 's work is also fantastic.

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

 

 

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

Dance or digging a water pipe. Go people!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Google's "+1" might be a big thing for charity and issue work.

 This could playout very interesting to get a bunch of activists to search on an issue and +1 the most informative news and issue sites.   Will large groups upload their entire list to google contacts so that the "social search" guides thier members through the web?

How does it work?  Google looks at your "social connections" to determine who to show your "+1's" to and to figure out which +1's might be useful to you.   According to Google your "social connections" include people in your gmail chat list, people in your my contacts group on gmail, and people you’re following in Google Reader.  I can't tell if it also includes who you follow on twitter. 

How could this make a difference?  If my staff upload the membership contacts into a google contact list and we follow all our members on a google reader these contacts would be my GMT "social connections". GMT then can surf the web on all of our favorite sites on media, environment, membership blogs,etc and "(+1) all of them.  We may even get a grassroots mob to +1 all the good articles on climate change. When the extended network of these groups then google search "climate change" they will start to see the articles weighted more heavily by the grassroots groups working on climate change.  

(I think) There is something about (+1) that begs to leveraged by advocacy groups with large social reach. I think it will have impact because it tweaks the way google results are presented and that will have a big impact on the users.  

Advocacy groups and professional advoactes have lots of things (great article on fracking, here is info on a chemical, ets) that they would love to "tell" thier followers but the volume prevents sending email about each "find".  This is the  underlying user story behind "+1"  so now when a member looks for articles on chemical "X" the social connecitons to that group can see these are the ones the staff of the group they trust would read.

I am not sure how it will all playout but it is interesting. 


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.


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

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

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

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

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

 


Museum 2.0: One-Pager: A Simple Alternative to Messy Websites

This must be the new design guide for campaigns, micro-sites and small nonprofits.

Design your site to be super clear, simple and easy maintain. Cut, cut and cut again to to present a single set of value to user of the site and reduce need to keep the content fresh.  A simple site increases value to the user and reduces your headaches.   

If you are going to have a run on and long blog like this go ahead but really take pride in the brainstorming and note space. :)

SO WHAT are the ESSENTIALS of your SITE?

  1. One hook with the user. (emotional is good. timely is good)
  2. A clear promise and a clear ask. (what is the trade?)
  3. A signup form to stay connected to people with zip and social spread tools. 
  4. Basic learn more link. 
  5. Blog and transparency too. 
     image from influx.us

One-Pager prioritizes simplicity--both for library patrons who use it and for librarians who manage it. One-Pager isn't meant for institutions with a team of web developers; instead, it's designed for library systems that have little to no capacity to write and design online content. The argument is that instead of offering inadequate, unclear, or poorly-designed online services, it's better to offer users something clear, attractive, and easy to maintain. The site is optimized for speedy use on mobile devices as well as standard web browsers. It forces librarians to pare down their content... like it or not.

via museumtwo.blogspot.com

 


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

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

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

Motivation + Network Capacity = Revolution Potential

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

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

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

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

What does this mean?

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

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


Flash Mob Gone Wrong. What if?

Flashmob gone wrong.

 

 

 

 

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


Help Kids Live Longer and Healthier. Help means Connect. Help Means Act.

There is only one way to organize a movement, "ask". Will you do something about childhood obesity?

 

There are many great causes out there and many new ones pop up with the publication of new research, the crisis of a new event, or a population reaching a breaking point. However, causes don't make change. You do. People need to understand/feel the crisis or the problem . We need to understand that there is something we can do to change the problem. We need to understand what to do. The success of the petition on change.org and care2.com are good indicators that those elements are coming together.

 

Childhood obesity is a problem. It is a crisis. It impacts 23 million children. The data says this generation needs us to do something, if they are going to have a chance to live healthy and long lives. America did not just decide to over eat and stop moving. Food has always been available. We did not give up interest sports, athletics or interest in healthy people. If anything we are more interested in those.

 

Something else is going on. Something small that is having a huge impact on our kids and our fate as a country. I say it is small because I am not a doctor, city planner or a researcher they know this is a big deal. I say it is small because 150 calories seems like a little thing. The root of the epidemic among children is just 150 calories a day. 150 extra calories every day converts to something like 10 lbs a year on a kid. This converts to obesity at a young age (4th and 5th graders 40 and 50lbs overweight). It seems so simple. Help kids eat just a bitter better and healthier. Help the kids move or play more everyday and we stop this epidemic. Work together, and the pain, the suffering, the early disease and the billions of dollars it will costs all go away.

 

Everyone is responsible for what they eat. Parents are responsible for getting kids moving and helping them eat healthy. But parents need help. We all have a responsibility to help the next generation thrive. There are too many forces are working against parents rather with than them. Parents that work hard to provide the right foods and then someone brings them cookies. Parents work to get kids to a party for a schoolmate and kids are offered 1000s of calories at a sitting. Parents that can no longer assume the schools will get them moving on a playground or in PE.

 

The answers are within our grasp. We can help parents. We can help them if we make sure kids are surrounded by healthy affordable foods not junk food. We can help them if we reduce the ridiculous amount of crap food advertising pushing kids to eat more, more, more. We can help them if we help keep kids moving in PE, community fields and safe places to play. We can help them if we put schools where kids can walk. We can help them if we create trails and play spaces kids can use safely and help keep communities safe so they can stay outside.

 

Kids will play with just about anything. I watched mine play with empty boxes and run around a field playing tag or tumbling around for an hour. They will ride bikes along trails until their legs fall off and say in a pool right thru lunch and dinner if I didn't call them. My 5 siblings used to fight (that was worth at least 150 calories a day). Kids are not different. Our food and environment are.

 

You walked to school. Your kids don't. You drank milk (ours was powdered milk) or drank out of the hose in the yard. Your kids are offered sugar drinks EVERYWHERE. Food and food marketing is everywhere. Gas stations sold gas. Now kids are begging for treats when you fill up the van. 10% of kids ask parents to go for fast food everyday.

 

Those are not accidents. Governments cut back on sidewalks while building roads. Food companies have pushed into every nook and cranny of your kids day. Junk ads tell the kids in the middle of every movie, jersey, billboard, book, show and on every carton that junk food is easy and fun. The things that pass for school lunch are heavily influenced by industry. The default kids meals in restaurants don't meet healthy meal standards. We cut budgets for PE. We build over the woods near kids houses. We surround them with dangerous roads and fast cars. We cut budgets for school meals, food preparation, and parks. We don't do anything to bring healthy food into reach while junk food has an industry nudging parents influence out while superloading sugar, fat and salt into things packaged as healthy. We were making some mistakes that are driving this epidemic.

 

Working with everyone isn't easy. Change is hard. The good thing is there is no doubt we can do this. There is no doubt if we do the right thing we will reap huge benefits. But we have to ask.

 

Can you join the movement? This is what we asked in our first effort on the petition site. Today, we are building a movement to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity. We need to make that 150 calorie shift. You can play a part. You can lead. You can support those who lead by tuning in and getting engaged and participating in all they do.

 

Will you join? Others are. It is time.

 

 

   

   


“Be the Ball Danny”… Dannnaana == Seeing Social Media Success Before It Happens

Dan Cohen has a nice little riff over on the communications network blog about  seeing social media success in your future.

I really like the visualization of the future idea.

I would add a few questions about the network nature of the tools.

  • As we use these technologies how are we different?  Is that enough?  What would make it personally worth enough to use media online?
  • Who are we talking with online?
  • What are we learning?
  • Who did we build trust with?
  • What did we reveal about ourselves and why?

 

She asked then to think who their allies were.  She asked what tools they thought made the most impact over the “past” year.

Seeing Social Media Success Before It Happens (the Communications Network blog)

 

 


Why Work on Childhood Obesity?

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

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

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

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

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

 


The Magic and Dynamic Mix. The Right Policy. The Right Communications Strategy. The Right Network.

   

When I think about the elements that need to be in place for a campaign to succeed. I imagine that each campaign needs to have a focus in four areas throughout the campaign. The campaign needs effective management, it needs the right policy, it needs an effective communication strategy and it needs the right network. These elements interplay with each other.

 

A great communications strategy can open up new policy options and build a new network. A strong network can achieve significant policy change with a very poor communication strategy. The perfect policy is not always good enough. There is no way around investing in developing each of these four elements. Effective management balances the tension between the communications team, the policy team and the network team. Having a good policy does not mean you have an effective communication strategy. Having effective network strategy does not mean you have figured out how to communicate about it or tested any kind of policy.

 

What I find most surprising is that we do not balance our investment and expertise in these areas. Most campaigns and nonprofits that I work with are too heavily focused on policy expertise. Boards, strategy staff, and the policy people that want to see change need to be more deliberate on establishing a better balance in their management structures to deal with the development of each of these three elements.

 

Across the board, on almost every campaign I see a need to focus management on bringing both communications and network strategist to the senior leadership table.

 

If your organization has the opportunity to develop the perfect policy, the perfect communications campaign, or the perfect network which do you believe provides you with the most strategic value to leverage towards success?

 


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.


Small Change Matters: Tweet It. Gladwell.

I've been thinking about a response to write Malcolm Gladwell's Small Change and his typical "advocacy doesn't happen online" half-hearted probe into causes and movements. However I've been waiting to see if there is another riff out there that I agree with most so I could just re-tweet it and move on.

I have seen some strong rebukes of Gladwell's article but I'm compelled to jump into the fun. I think the bottom line is that Gladwell needs to hang out with more activists (smart guy and great other books).

Not that it matters what us advocates think, but I totally disagree with Gladwell. There will be no revolution that is not supported (and tweeted) by a coordinated advocacy network. The network will leverage the most powerful and accessible tools to communicate persuade and coordinate. The successful movement will use every means possible to connect and synchronize with people who care about an issue. I don't know if Gladwell ever worked on a campaign or part of a movement with a loose network of people to get a policy changed but based on this article I doubt it. I also think he totally confuses deep personal anger and connection with the effects of racism with social ties. I bet there were all kinds of new friendships made in the protests and after not before as he suggests. They were not there for a social event.

First, social networks are not advocacy networks. People who hate each other can work and participate effectively in the same advocacy network. People who hate each other destroy the same social network. Social networks beget social outcomes. Invest in advocacy networks and you get advocacy outcomes. Advocacy networks use social media. Some social networks engage in activism. (Gladwell seriously confuses these concepts.)

All networks have a purpose and a value. The way the network is built sets a norm. Dating networks are sometimes used to create business deals. Sometimes people who work together date. People can use networks for other purposes but sometimes it is creepy. Match.com is not going to solve world hunger. The civil rights advocates were connected to an advocacy network. Facebook is a social network. Twitter is a communication tool. Advocacy networks use these to get things done and connect people together for advocacy.

The civil rights movement did not happen without scale, communications and coordination. It did not happen without synchronizing efforts of people. Yes, it happened without e-mail, Facebook and twitter but who the hell would do this kind of work today without using the best tools available? Shack Dwellers International coordinates with skype and email. I know advocates. We know what activism is. I also know they will use twitter, facebook and email. So yes, the revolution will be tweeted.

Activism is about creating change, shifting power, distributing rights, fighting injustice and waste. Gladwell may think it is about protests, passion, commitment and strong ties. He is simply wrong. Show me a serious force shaping today's culture or politics that is not online? Broadcasting challenges to authority, speaking out against norms, raising consciousness and fighting authority and trends empowers others to do the same. The communication grid in a network fosters a common vision, common language, and distributes ownership of an agenda. Uprisings happened when people speak the truth and are heard. Uprisings are inspired by communication of stories that move people. Networks don't centralize the ownership of the campaign they spread it. The civil rights was a movement because so many were inspired to own it. If Al Gore or any one group "owns" the climate campaign we are sunk. HealthCare reform was a massive network effort fighting very centralized efforts.

The more that people can coordinate on their own, the less they will be victimized. The more we connect resources of attention, money, wisdom and political capital behind these groups and leaders the faster the revolution will happen. It does not matter if those resources come from small donations or large, from one person volunteering for one year or 10,000 for 10 min. each. The opportunity and revolution of our time will be tweeted. We will continue to move deeper into the long-tail of engagement to engage new voices and resources.

Human nature has not changed but our behavior has. That has changed the landscape. I like committed and passionate people. I love the underdog. I'm inspired by those that sacrifice so much for the cause. Can that really be the only way people can achieve revolution? Political donors used to believe that you had to donate thousands of dollars to influence politics. The longtail of political organizing has just started. It is increasingly feasible, powerful and sustainable to act small and coordinate small bits from lots of people. A small bit of passion, money, voice and vote counts. The next revolution is more voices, and groups, and the new ways that people can engage.

The closing paragraphs of Gladwell's article reveal how little Gladwell really gets the subject of change and movements. Advocacy networks use twitter, Facebook, cell phones, blogs, secret handshakes, dances, puppets, rituals, newsletters, whatever. The successful advocacy network engages all ties (weak and strong) to create options for leveraging anything available in the fight. Advocacy networks spread issue ties like "the fever" Gladwell keeps referring to. Social networks are not required by design to grow. Advocacy networks are designed to grow.

Advocacy networks power many types of activities. In a healthy advocacy network, you have core groups planning the really big and complex activities, you have specialist that spread talents around the network and you have "walk-ins" all running experiments and operations to move the agenda forward. Networks don't have a boss but they are filled with leaders. Network means connectivity not leaderless or inept (or efficient ). Networks have varying degrees of "organized clusters " from the example of the Obama 2008 campaign (strong center) to smaller scale examples such as work on gay rights (loose center), the anti-war movement, anti-immigration, pro-migration, tea-party, deaniacs or the many, many which Clay Shirkey brings up.

Healthy networks have a fluid governance (because they are designed to have redundant leadership) but I have never been in quickly operating highly functional network "government by consensus". That's not how networks are governed. In advocacy networks, advocates and resources swarm around success and experiments (think Cindy Sheehan in Crawford TX) Increasingly, they are using communication tools to figure out what is working, learn, share and synchronize. The early successes in the next revolution will be tweeted (put on facebook, etc) the network will swarm around what is working. The next revolution will be tweeted.

Small change matters. The activists networks are getting better everyday at figuring out how to leverage these networks to drive real change. We are getting better on understanding the mechanics of what makes and effective advocacy network and designing new networks for emerging movements.

Seeing the influence of networks on social change requires the right perspective and understanding of advocacy to see what is going on. Gladwell just misses it. He needs to hang out with more activists.

 


Connect. Relationship. Engagement. Is that the path?

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

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

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

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

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


Top Five Tools for Listening on the Social Web - Online Fundraising, Advocacy, and Social Media - frogloop

This is worth forwarding. Nice tools for 'listening" to the web.

As organizers, many nonprofits are focused on getting the message "out" but very few have a listening strategy.

Why listen?

  • Listening helps you become a better organizer.
  • Listening is part of your brand offline. It should be a part of your brand online.
  • It helps you communicate more effectively.
  • You can learn things that reshape your strategy.
  • It is fun.  

1. Addictomatic: This is by far the easiest way to create a listening dashboard for free. Type in a search term and it will generate the latest news, blog posts, videos and even images around the keyword. After it generates results (using a variety of search engines, news sites and social networks) you can personalize the dashboard. Bookmark it and check it daily. 

2. Topsy: Part search engine, part social web connector. When you search for something on Topsy, such as “climate change”, Topsy finds daily conversations that match the search term. The results are the items people link to, when discussing your search term via a social network, news website, blog, etc. Topsy ranks results based on how well they match your search terms, and the “influence” of the people tweeting or writing about your issue. Bonus: It links to the conversationalists twitter profiles so you can follow them and engage with them on Twitter.

via www.frogloop.com


Many Eyes. Visualizations of Life’s Growing Data

I have blogged on many eyes in the past. It is a useful tool for generating visualizations of data, text and trends.

There is a capacity to pull together data sets including twitter feeds or government data to tell a complex story in a single image.

The world we live in becomes increasingly digital. Each activity generates a new digital shadow. The challenge to the organizers is to leverage this complex data to learn faster and make the right conclusions based on data trends.

This data driven adaptation of strategy will be the key to successful organizing. (It always has been) The tools to do it well are getting cheaper and more accessible.

Think about the data you have, the stories the data can tell to your organizing team, supporters, the media or your allies. What are the things you learn from your data .

 


Cultures get what they celebrate!

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

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


How to lure people to your startup with analytics

If you are interested in that approach, here's a couple of tips. First, try to show users something as soon as possible. In an ideal world they arrive at your page and immediately see a graph that tells them something interesting about themselves or something they relate too. Typically this isn't achievable, but at the very least have a single step where they enter an email address, twitter name, etc and then within a few seconds get some information. You should also show an example of what they will get on the landing page. These techniques reduced my bounce rate massively, never overestimate people's patience, you constantly need to be convincing them to spend time navigating your site.

The second key is presenting your statistics in an actionable way. If you can not only tell a user something interesting, but cause them to do something based on that information, then your chances of a repeat visit shoot way up. Feedburner has an 'Optimize' tab that guides you through ways of increasing your traffic. I found that changing from just showing your most-frequently-contacted friends to sending a report of the people you used to talk to and haven't for a while ('Losing touch report') and giving them a link to email each person alongside the list turned it from an 'oh, that's nice' to a must-have.

via petewarden.typepad.com

This is smart.

Your data strategy must a.) provide value to the user immediately. b.) data and visualizations in an actionable way.

In an advocacy context, I would suggest that good data visualizations create a common focus point (inspire discussion), set a common language (visually based on what data you display) and give them options to engage each other because of common or opposing understandings of the data.  


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.


There are big drivers afoot shifting civic organizing again. These forces are going to be as trans formative as the web was and initial email. The forces are mobile and data.

You need to be developing strategies today that:
a. capture data
b. position you to leverage the data you capture to deliver service to users.
c. integrate this personalized information product with social and mobile media channels.

There are lots of reasons "why". and even more ways "how". It is a process I am working on right now with clients and campaigns I care about. Unfortunately, very few organizations or social movements are working on serious strategies that are going to line up with the coming wave of changes in content will be delivered.

I ran across this quote "Organizations should refocus their attention on personalizing content and disseminating news through mobile devices" - Eric Schmitt @ Google.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/35649.html#ixzz0nanfhl4Z

It is interesting to think about.


Amazing summary based on the links and tweets and followers.

 

 

This looks like a very cool service that focuses on generating a "newspaper" from the links and stories in a twitter feed and from the feeds of those that follow a feed. It seems like it could have a great potential as a single update on a network of activitity. For groups working on issues this would work well if.

a. Main source (twitter account) links to the daily clips, actions and videos on an issue.

b. The main source follows all the members in the coalition and regularly retweets their news reports and actions.

c. The main source only approves followers that are in the coalition. (can we even do that anymore?)

The resulting "paper" would be tight and focused on the issues related to the campaign. With Google ads (grants) the calls to action and focusing on retweeting the videos the page could becomevery useful in coalition work. Just a few small tweaks (allogn others to embed sections, or adding navigation wrapping around the page and it would be a very robust hub for a coalition.


The Community Roundtable's Community Maturity Model

One of our missions at The Community Roundtable is to further the discipline of community management – not just in our own community but more broadly in the marketplace. Our first effort to define the discipline is our Community Maturity Model:

This model does two things. First, it defines the eight competencies we think are required for successful community management. Second, it attempts – at a high level – to articulate how these competencies progress from organizations without community management that are still highly hierarchical to those that have embraced a networked business ecosystem approach to their entire organization.

via community-roundtable.com

This is brilliant. I like the elements and the focus on building toward a network. Building networks can be intentional and be defined in a series of steps.

I am sure all networks are not "mature communities". I am also sure all functional networks are not "communities". However, the ideas and elements are good and worth looking over.

There is one significant failure. The network misses "feedback mechanisms." In other stages, leaders can look at the metrics to shape the direction and learning. In the network phase of distributed leadership, those leaders need "distributed leadership tools" or universally accessible feedback mechanisms so that any partipant can "see" what is working and what is not.