Network Feedback Loops and Data in Human Networks
Huffington Post Publishes Riff on Internet access for the unemployed.

Tools I Use to Connect, Scan and React to the Web

After tweaking and refining over the last several weeks, I finally believe I have a system of software and web services figured out that support me in my work to connect with peers, scan the web and react and publish my thoughts/reaction to the conversation. etc.  

About me.  I do not write code. I don’t know how to operate a tar ball. I want things easy and out of the way.   This entire package is a few dollars a month for typepad (hosts this blog ). I tend to work long hours and spend a bit of my nights scanning the online space. I don’t mind putting the time in to set up each of these because they pay off pretty well.  I have a Vista laptop with all Office 2007 tools and an Iphone.

I am an Executive Director at a nonprofit organization a part of my job and work consists of;

  1. Scanning the field for several projects (hundreds of feeds), grabbing notes that I may need or I want to share with other that are interested in the same project.
  2. Working over the notes and developing some into riffs on networks and advocacy, or storing those notes for later cooking.
  3. Publishing my thought process online, the raw materials and any final products. Sometimes, I need to create long and short riffs on the subject but also I am content to point people to other peoples brilliant content online. 

As a network and organizer, my instinct is to leverage a vast and far flung collection of people accelerate my learning, broaden my view and deepen my thinking.  I need to keep my ear to the web.

I am not interested in web traffic. I don’t do this for ad revenue. I am mostly interested in more fully developing my thoughts.  I am interested in getting things done in campaigns. I am interested in providing our partners and clients with a really solid understanding of what is going on across the online organizing space.

Additionally, my online activity is a bit “social”. I am interested in sharing information with a small group of friends, peers and coworkers in the progressive movement. I am interested in conversation.  I do some of my reading and reacting to stay in touch benefit from, and help my friends.  

I don’t want it to take more than an hour or two to scan, grab, kick around, react and publish.

Conversation

I love to meet people for coffee. I spend 40%-60% of my day in meetings or on the phone with people.  I love the value and richness of face to face and phone conversations. Phone calls are the best for me but if I have time to tune in and kick updates around with peers I don’t like the demand that email correspondence puts on us for social interaction.  I feel really bad when I can’t reply to someone's email.  I also no longer feel comfortable sending random update email to friends trying to get us all caught up. In addition to my email, I stay in touch by communicating via

  1. Facebook (in browser and on iphone app, pulls in feeds)
  2. Linked-in (just for professional connections and keeping contact pipeline with lots of people)
  3. Twitter (Tweetdeck for the PC …Tweetie for $2.99 on iphone)
  4. My blog (typepad – only problem..I wish I could change my domain name without messing it up.)
  5. Google reader ( with 117 feeds and a shared feed)
  6. I comment on others postings.

Scanning

  1. Twitter – My favorite part of twitter is see “who follows and who”.  The open connections are the most valuable part of the system to me. It enables me to reach very “far” across the web to connect with people that are outside my circle of information but still trusted by traceable by degrees of separation.  I try to track lots of people right now as I am using it to see what is interesting. Many of the people that I am really close with are not yet on twitter so I use it to scan the larger field.  I assume i will really use it more for work in the months ahead.  I think the #tag stuff is brilliant.
  2. Facebook – Scanning  my close network. (my family, friends and coworkers and friends are on here)
  3. Google Reader (Great Tool. It grabs almost everything I need. I can look at it from my phone and it has share and share with notes that are a part of my site. Star for later)
  4. Email ( I don’t want things coming into my inbox. )
  5. Project related feeds on sites (Instead of the google reader) like the bottom of this site (

Working Over the Results

  1. Onenote 2007– Screen Capture.  It really works like a notebook. You see something that is interesting and you highlight it and send it to Onenote (it is a tool in IE) or you can grab the screen and create a page from what you are looking at.  You have the option to send any onenote page “send to blog”
  2. Windows Live Writer  (I love this)– As you are surfing a page or reading in firefox…you highlight the interesting section of the page and hit a little icon that windows live writer puts on your toolbar in firefox. A post opens up with a title and the content already linkined and in the post. It has one button publishing to send the text and images directly into your blog. 
  3. Firefox – quick publish – blogger. I set up a blogger account for “clips” I don’t use the blogger account to write anything (it is linked to a www.wetpaint.com wiki) I just highlight and hit the right mouse button to see “send to blogger” and off the clip goes. 

Publish

  1. Typepad – 14 bucks a month. It works.  i have been using it for years. They keep adding features, attacking spam and make sure the feeds work with almost every service (facebook, widgets etc.)  It is easy to keep free of spam and has an Iphone app.
  2. Blogger – just for clips.
  3. Drupal – full content management system and preferred platform for most of my sites.
  4. Wetpaint.com – REally easy wiki. I have watched old hippy organizers use it so i know the technology is not a barrier. (unfortunately, the branding is difficult)

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