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December 2007
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February 2008

information at the point of purchase: Mobile activist tool example

Did you have an email strategy when 30% of the US population had email? Do you have a web strategy when 63% of the country is on the net? Where is your mobile strategy?

Turning Shopping into Advocacy via a Mobile Phone |

Dane Grams, online strategy director of Human Rights Campaign, sat down with MobileActive for a chat about HRC's new Corporate Equality Index and mobile phone strategy. The HRC guide, Buying for Equality, isn't new -- the organization has been releasing the guide since 2002 -- but this is the first year that HRC has made the guide accessible via mobile phone. The guide includes evaluations of more than 500 companies. The scores of the businesses included in the guide are factors such as existence of domestic partner benefits, non-discrimination policies, and inclusion of transgender people. According to the HRC, 195 companies received a perfect score on the index, an increase from 138 companies last year.

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36 million watch Youtube of Connon in D: 23 year old : no recording contract

Jeong-Hyun Lim the self-taught 23 year old Korean with a month of guitar lessons ....

Is there a culture shift in the works? Does the communication grid change the tastes of a new culture?  Are there new stars that can work on causes and campaigns?  If I worked on music education or classical music educations programs I would be thinking about this story and the hook for my students and donors.

Web Guitar Wizard Revealed at Last - New York Times

When guitarists upload their renditions, they often ask that viewers be blunt: What are they doing wrong? How can they improve? When I asked Mr. Lim the reason he didn’t show his face on his video, he wrote, “Main purpose of my recording is to hear the other’s suggestions about my playing.” He added, “I think play is more significant than appearance. Therefore I want the others to focus on my fingering and sound. Furthermore I know I’m not that handsome.”

Online guitar performances seem to carry a modesty clause, in the same way that hip-hop comes with a boast. Many of the guitarists, like Mr. Chang and Mr. Lim, exhibit a kind of anti-showmanship that seems distinctly Asian. They often praise other musicians, denigrate their own skills and talk about how much more they have to practice. Sometimes an element of flat-out abjection even enters into this act, as though the chief reason to play guitar is to be excoriated by others. As Mr. Lim said, “I am always thinking that I’m not that good player and must improve more than now.”

RSS for nonprofit staff. Why?

Tuesday Tips: Why Nonprofit Managers Must Use RSS ... And How to Start | DemocracyInAction

You're not getting information -- about your cause, about your people, about your profession -- efficiently enough, which means you're not getting enough information, period.

And someone else is getting that information, or will be soon.

* Someone eyeballing your job.
* Or your press release.
* Or your grant application.
* Someone competing with you for your constituents.
* Or someone competing with your constituency for influence.

They'll know when someone writes about your issue or blogs about your cause or has something to say about your organization, and know it without refreshing dozens of links and scouring dozens of mailing lists so their hands are free for the other hundred things they have to do.

Distributed Research: needs 43 phone calls to track Hill staff

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

Where Are They Now? Staffers Needing Verification

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

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

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

It is a beautiful campaign.

Free Running: X-treme without gear.

And now for something totally different...

My new favorite sports channel

So why does this matter? It is the fragmentation of lovers of sport. We no longer just need to watch NFL or Baseball. The fragmentation allows each of us to find urban gymnastics (free running) or poker to watch. The overall audience grows but it fragments even faster.

The same dynamic is coming to politics (how many niche candidates are "still in" the race?) and advocacy (what is the name the new climate group of this week?).

The challenge is plotting out a strategy to make sure the whole is greater than the parts.

Center for Progressive Leadership Action Network

Distributed leadership training... very cool.

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

Link: Center for Progressive Leadership Action Network.

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

Distributed Photo screening ... Will it work? Hell yes.

From 10 Hours a Week, $10 Million a Year - New York Times

Mr. Frind has refined a formula for analyzing customer feedback and arriving at a determination of whether a given forum post is spam and should automatically be deleted. He has also devised some new software twists that enable him to offload work to his customers, letting users review the photos that are uploaded to the site.

Mr. Frind says that close to 50,000 new photos come in every day, each one of which needs to be checked to verify that it is an actual person and that it does not not contain nudity. The work would be costly if Mr. Frind relied on a paid staff to do it.

Fortunately for him, there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of humans eager to look at pictures of other humans, and Mr. Frind taps his customers to carry out the reviewing, gratis. Some have made it their principal pastime. Among Plenty of Fish’s volunteers were 120 who last year evaluated more than 100,000 images each. He explains his volunteers’ enthusiasm for the work as an expression of gratitude: “Lots of people feel like they want to give back to the site because it’s free.”

Ants: Transactions as the message: How does your advoacy smell to other ants? TED Talks.

TED | Talks | Deborah Gordon: How do ants know what to do? (video)

She asks: How do these chitinous creatures get down to business -- and even multitask when they need to -- with no language, memory or visible leadership? Her answers could lead to a better understanding of all complex systems, from the brain to the Web.

Continue reading "Ants: Transactions as the message: How does your advoacy smell to other ants? TED Talks." »

Sunlight Favorites: Research on Government and Political Activity Web2.0 style

This is a great collection pulled together by Sunlight of the places people can pull back the curtain on government activities, policy creation.  This is like a web2.0 tour of the sausage factory that is US government.

These are cool because we are just starting to get our heads around how to present megadata sets and any look at US government usually needs a way to start at the the 30,000ft level and then zoom in because there is just so many transactions to track.

Without these type of mashups and aggregation sites looking at government programs one policy, one staffer, one donation at a time is like trying to understand weather patterns by looking at one raindrop.  We need to see the landscape, the clouds, feel the wind, etc.

We need the aggregate traffic patterns Sunlight is teasing out of the government data so each of us can better plot our routes to get things done.

Insanely Useful Web Sites | Sunlight Foundation

The following sites and resources are “insanely useful Web sites” for government transparency. They provide a broad range of information available to track government and legislative information, campaign contributions and the role of money in politics.

Many of these resources apply the Web 2.0 ethos to sift, share and combine this information in innovative ways – often times by mashing data together from disparate sources to maximize the usability of that information.

Setting a vision , clarity of purpose and common story: Ruckus Style.

This seems to work well in meetings and at the organizational level.  I like the simple weeding process. I was at a sweatshop retreat a few weeks ago that ran a two day exercise along these lines.  It seemed very effective.  How would it work in a conference call, online, using a whiteboard ?

Communicate Your Vision & Ignite Collaborative Change — Hollyhock Leadership Institute

How organizations develop excites me, because how people communicate and grow community excites me. I think the changing of the world is an issue of communication, and if we are communicating clearly, then changing the world is the least of what we can accomplish. And! I don't think it's hard, this communication of which I speak.

For instance, using a collective communication model, here's an effective way to develop visions:

  1. Tell everyone who is invited to a meeting, to reflect in advance on what their vision is. Ask prompting questions: What would success look like for your group? What impact could you have in your community?
  2. Once folks are all in the room, have them take 20 minutes or more to write out their vision, free write, get it all out there.
  3. Then ask each person to go through and highlight the core points of their vision that they want to bring to the group. Put all of those up in a common space -- a flipchart, chalkboard, something you can all see. As much as possible, look for places of shared group concepts and ideals.
  4. Now folks get a chance to knock anything off the vision that isn't shared. That doesn't mean it's no good, it's just important to make a distinction between a personal vision and what the group wants to do.
  5. Finally, review what you have left. This is a starting point for your shared vision, and can inform conversations to follow.

    Once you get on point with the vision, there is an order to things.

The list and the network: New politial organizing

I have been really amazed at the depth that the campaign have gone this year building and empowering networks. The speeches are about you and your country, Edwards OneCorps and Hillary's ground operation have all been very connected.  Someone was telling me about the way they are using twitter to report exit poll numbers.

What are you going to do with all those people?  Put them to work. Don't stop. Give them all lots to do.

techPresident – Internet Politics 101: The List vs The Network

As best as I can recall, that's the only metric of grassroots organizing the Clinton campaign has ever shared with the public. And the news that it had, by September, built a million-member email list, was no small accomplishment. Until recently, that was every politician's goal: a huge list that you could hit up for donations and volunteers, again and again.

But compare the power of a list to the power of a network.

Right now, the Obama campaign boasts that more than 350,000 people have created personal accounts on, more than 25,000 have created blogs on the site; more than 20,000 have created their own personal fundraising pages with their own goals, thermometers to track progress, and follow-up tools; more than 20,000 offline local events have been planned using related tools on the site; and more than 6,500 active grassroots volunteer groups have formed in support of Obama with more than 200,000 members.

To be purely schematic about it, let's posit that Clinton's giant list falls into this form of one-to-many communication, (Forgive me if this looks like it was sketched on a back of a napkin--but it's essentially an abstracted form of a graphic my partner Andrew Rasiej has been drawing for years in his efforts to get politicians to wake up to the power of the net.)

Barack Obollywood: I Love web2.0 mashups

Wow. Nutty.

<object width="425" height="373"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="373"></embed></object>

Communicaiton Coordination in the middle of Choas

While our campaigns will never get to the intensity of the coverage the Tsunami there is lots of interesting ground experience to tease out of Communicating Disasters: An Asia Pacific Resource Book .

I have been waiting to look this over and see how the ad hoc teams came together and kept things going. I look forward to reading more like this...

Armed only with a satellite phone hooked up to a car battery, the information delegate’s main functions were to brief colleagues in Geneva and Delhi and give interviews to the international media. For over a week, the Red Cross featured almost daily on CNN, BBC and other major news outlets. This level of visibility sent a clear signal to the donor community that they were on the ground getting the job done.
Good communication in a disaster zone depends on many factors. Rapid access to the disaster zone, professional human resource capacity and readily available communications technology are among them.

The latest communications technology should be integral to a humanitarian organisations emergency response toolkit. Whether it’s an earthquake in the mountains of Afghanistan or flooding in Somalia, a satellite phone is an essential piece of equipment to maintain contact with the outside world where conventional communication isn’t possible. Combine a satellite phone with a laptop, digital camera and digital video camera, and a humanitarian agency can become a news provider from anywhere in the world. Web stories and blogs can be posted on agency web sites, and digital photos and raw video footage can easily be made accessible...

Some of the hearest lessons in the world were learned in the days following the disaster. I am really glad that they have worked hard to document what they went thru for the rest of us.

Celebrities have favorite issues. (Govcom issue map crawling

I love to see these information maps presenting unique windows on large sets of data...

In order of importance, celebrities endorse issues focusing on children,
health, AIDS, family/parent support, poverty, disaster relief and human rights, according to
There is also an issue-celebrity distribution according to celebrity type, e.g., models prefer animals and fur, and
rock stars, poverty and disaster relief. Finally, there are issues that are devoid of celebrity endorsement,
e.g., liver disease and eating disorders (not shown).

Kudos Richard Rodgers

Reporter in NH sees the "Network-centric" Obama campaign

This is interesting.  The online and offline results are coming into line on the democratic side but Ron Paul is the GOP version of Howard Dean.  Will the Paul supporters be running the next GOP comeback?  Does Ron Paul just take his crew independent?    I also like that Roy Mark is starting to see the advantage of independent initiatives and lots of connected platforms (facebook, myspace, etc.) 

Edwards is the real leader in this space and the OneCorp idea that didn't convert

Obama's Interactive Surge Faces New Hampshire Challenge

Obama's Interactive Surge Faces New Hampshire Challenge
By Roy Mark
January 7, 2008

Will his social network-centric campaign pull off another upset?

A buoyed Barack Obama, a bloodied Hillary Clinton and a battling John Edwards all head into the Jan. 8 New Hampshire Democratic primary with continuing questions about their Internet support translating into votes.
For Obama, it's a question of whether more of the same will deliver a victory in New Hampshire, which has decidedly different demographics than Iowa. Defying the pundits and the national polls that gave Clinton a comfortable lead going into last week's Iowa caucuses, Obama's social network-centric campaign pulled off a surprise victory, leaving Edwards and Clinton in the distance.

Before the Iowa...

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database of corporate profiles : wiki and network-centric research on corp misdeeds.

This is a neat pilot project...

Crocodyl is a project to build a database of corporate profiles by
using a global network of researchers, journalists and nonprofit
organization members with experience researching corporations in
specific industries and issue areas. By combining the knowledge of
these specialists and the wisdom of our entire user base, Crocodyl can
synthesize the breadth of information contributed by people worldwide
and the data culled by people with years of experience in obtaining
hard to find facts.

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Long Tail Politics... Move a Million : Ron Paul Campaign is worth watching

I have been watching the Ron Paul campaign for all the signs of a network-centric political movement.  It is at the core distributed.  Like many of the movements that are progressive and populist we may be dealing with loosing people to more interesting and more passionate local causes that attract fewer numbers.

The key challenge to the movement is to make sure the long tail of network based human rights work, river protection, etc.  adds up...

Stumper : Ron Paul Is the First 'Long Tail' Candidate. He Won't Be the Last.

He may be America's first "long tail" candidate. Popularized by Wired editor Chris Anderson, the long tail is premised on the idea that before the Web, it wasn't always easy to find a deep selection of, say, literary fiction at the local bookstore beyond the few best sellers the big publishers were pushing. Mass culture still dominates, but retailers now realize they can also make money by selling an ever-expanding selection of less-popular niche products from the "long tail" of the culture to smaller numbers of people. It's the difference between's selling a million copies of "The Da Vinci Code," or selling just five copies each of 200,000 backlist titles. Either way, it moves a million books.

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Unions using Facebook | Planting Liberally

Here is an interesting summary of some ways the unions are tapping facebook to give voice to labor. I also like the idea of a widget for gripes.

Link: Unions using Facebook | Planting Liberally.

First is Change to Win's Facebook app, Smack the CEO. Written by CtW online communications director Jason Lefkowitz, Smack the CEO is a fairly straightforward game that allows you to compare your salary to that of prominent union-busting CEOs. When you sign up, the app asks for your salary. After signing up, you're asked to invite friends to join you in the game. As you recruit more friends to the application, their salaries add up; hopefully, after recruiting about a bazillion friends, your combined salaries add up to the CEO's. For disclosure's sake - I've worked with Jason a bit on fine-tuning the instructions and help text for this application, so I have a bit of a stake in its success (although not a monetary one). Although at first I was a little put off by the way it asks for your salary up front, more and more I think it's appropriate. The most popular Facebook applications are really, really simple - they basically involve ornamenting your profile, playing a game, or dressing up the traditional Facebook wall/poke mechanism. This application falls into the game genre squarely, and still it manages to a) educate Facebook users about the wage gap, and b) give users some idea of what union organizing is actually about - adding up enough of your friends to take on powerful people. That's pretty impressive, considering the fairly rigid formula for success as a Facebook application.

Incidentally, Jason and I have discussed using Facebook for more elaborate quasi-organizing. I'd really like to see something like that take shape. For example, I'd love to see a some kind of widget which allows coworkers to gripe about work online, perhaps with some anonymization to prevent recriminations at work. Or I'd love to see a "sign a union card" Facebook application, perhaps similar to Younionize but with the advantage of higher exposure. I've suggested similar kinds of approaches to online union organizing before, but I think it would take a fairly sophisticated online community builder to make it work, since my hunch is that most people are generally very cautious about openly discussing work gripes online.

The second example of unions using Facebook recently was this clever guerrilla event which takes advantage of Facebook's new Pages feature. The idea is to support the WGA strike by signing up as a fan of one of the shows which is currently on strike; I chose The Office. Once the friend request is approved, you can pursue all kinds of mayhem, light writing comments on the show's wall, or changing your user photo to some graphic which indicates your support of the writers. Of course, the idea is to embarrass the networks and encourage them to negotiate in good faith already. This is a pretty simple idea, but I think it could have some potential.