Power Shift 2009 Connected and Twittering

As powershift is in town. They are going to be one of the more connected movements to organize on the Capital that I have seen. Here is just a little summary of the ways these 11,000 activists are going to swarm together. Here is an interesting step-by-step for how people can plug in.

The 140 character updates you will be able to watch on the projection on site or on the Power Shift ’09 website will be coming from observers both at the youth climate summit and remote commentators via the internet. The fast growing service Twitter.com, which should reach 1 million users by March 1, allows for the sharing of observations as well as conversation between users using event tags such as “#powershift09” or by referencing another user such as “@powershift09” in your posts or “tweets”. Consequently, by simply “tagging” your thoughts or observations with a hashtag (#powershift09) a post becomes searchable for somebody trying to find out what people are saying about Power Shift on Twitter.
However, Twitter is only one component of how the conference will be integrated virtually for people who were not able to make the trip physically. For example, the keynote addresses will be streamed live for people to watch over the internet. Then people will be able to comment either via Twitter or discuss more deeply through the Discussion section of the Power Shift Facebook Fan Page. In addition, through the photo-sharing service Flickr.com, attendees will be able upload pictures to their Flickr accounts, tag them with “powershift09”, and then they will cycled through public projections at the conference and through a Flickr application on our Facebook Fan Page.
So just remember to tag your photos and tweets and you too can be part of the conversation: #powershift09.

Power Shift 2009

DonorsChoose.org Moving money into SC schools like Ty’Sheoma Bethea’s!

Donor’s Choose is opening a money pipeline into the classrooms in SC.  teachers in these classes want beanbag chairs, rugs for cozy corners for reading, prewriting sets for kids with motor skill problems, etc.  Teacher requests directly from SC classrooms.

Education in the spotlight: Support classrooms like Ty’Sheoma Bethea’s!

By Katie Wednesday, Feb 25, 2009 at 5:44pm

If you were watching President Obama’s address to Congress last night, Ty’Sheoma Bethea probably stole your heart, like she stole ours. The eight-grader from Dillon, South Carolina was in attendance because of the letter she wrote to Congress, about her school’s terrible condition.

Ty’Sheoma wrote, “As you know, we have a lot of problems with our school.  President Obama has visit our school and were able to see why we should need a new school.  Some of the promblems are, we can not afford anything so we can not go on school trips or do school activities unlike other schools…”

She concluded her letter with, “We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congress men like yourself and one day president….”  To make a difference in high-poverty South Carolina classrooms like Ty’Sheoma’s, you can start here.

All the best,
Katie & Alex
DonorsChoose.org Carolinas


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

Network Flower Power: Project BudBurst - Participate!

Networking the flower people to report buds and flower changes to document global warming.  This is Distributed Flower research (do i hear an Iphone app?) Network research not targeting Mars (clickworkers) or birds 11,000,000 (birdcount)

  Project BudBurst Activity Guide.

1) Select and identify your plant using the plant list or by geographic area.

2) Describe the site where your plant is located. This includes finding the latitude and longitude of your site.

3) Determine which phenophase (phenological stage) you are looking for (i.e. Budburst/First Leaf, First Flower). For help, refer to the plant descriptions found in the plant list.

4) Begin observations (before expected time of budding or flowering)!

5) Report your observations online.

Register online with Project BudBurst to save your observation sites and plants that you are monitoring throughout this year and for coming years. This allows you to report the phenological events as they occur each week!

Project BudBurst - Participate!


Network-Centric & Alinsky

Network Rules for Radicals.... I have been cooking ideas of how to mashup the Rules for Radicals and network-centric advocacy for a few years. The puzzle lies in front of us "the rules" are scattered on one side of the desk and papers the "network attributes and components" are on the laptop sitting on the other side of the desk.

I find myself struggling to combine and remix Alinsky rules to contexts that bridge transnational organizing, extreme poverty, new social networks and digital culture. The scale of connectivity and tempo of life, campaigning, attention cycles and change are different today but the core levers of power are based on the same principals Alinsky teased out over a life time of hell raising.

I look at "the rules", the network culture, the most modern warfare strategy and the traditional gurus that struggle to create our modern movement of NGO's and I can not yet make them meet.

How do we best help the powerless and pissed be creative find power and voice to demand change. Where do our legacy organizing power meet todays disenfranchised? where is the powerful connective tissue between networks of people? It is not just the churches Alinsky organized but in hidden dark matter of our social space.

Where does the modern body politic connect? How do folks polarize in a world that refuses walls?

When does the new technology and professionalism serve to keep us in "our expertise and not our enemy" and when does it alinate and scare the very base we need to organize? What does constant pressure look like in the world of ADD? This clip may be the first link... Link: Alinsky.

In the closing chapter of Rules for Radicals, he calls upon radicals to "return to the suburban scene...with its PTA's, League of Women Voters, consumer groups, churches, and clubs. Search out the leaders...identify their major issues, find areas of common agreement, and excite their imagination with tactics that can introduce drama and adventure into the tedium of middle-class life."

Many of the 600 posts here are snippits that find the drama and adventure of change and genuinely connect the participants into the struggle. Netcentric campaigns are not point and clicktivism.

This is not make a donation activism ...new strategy is about leaning into the network of people tied together by billions of investments in communications, internet and transportation and asking them to meet, asking them to talk, asking them to participate and lead.

This new organizing in the age of connectivity is about the fear of power that is not pre-assembled but about projecting the fear that power can be built on the fly. This is about youtube ridicule that is fun and viral. This is about making transparent the rules that they must abide by as well as their mistakes being public at a level that Alinsky could not imagine in the 60's and 70s.

There are still strategy struggles before we write the network for radicals guide but we can see the future and I am curious to see how we can build the new movement for peace, new economy, new justice and new healthy planet. peeks at the stories that say there is something new out there... building health networks (here) (here) connecting the homeless The fear of power on the fly (how can you reach half a million people) Staying power of fun campaigns ....The connections between old and new strategy are there. New strategy in a new culture with similar core threats. 

Don’t Look at the News. Don’t Watch C-span

I love this site in just 10 seconds I get a snap shot of all the words on the congressional record for the day.  This is all the speeches, bills and who is talking about them.

What does this image tell you in a glance?


Capitol Words

1. It looks like California and Texas are discussing jobs and economy.  It looks like the states in the middle are pretty quite (are the GOP members not active in the committees?)

Wish list:

  • It would be cool if there was a red state / blue state version to see how they differ.
  • It would also be cool to look at the differences between D and R.
  • I look forward to a moveable timeline
  • I would like to be able to compare word clouds of politicians.
  • I also think it would be good to be able to click on the word for a report of the references. The trend is very cool.
  • links to advocacy letters or public comment periods associated with those words.
  • an improved and larger widget.
  • an ability to normalize the color maps based on the percentage of all things said by their state (CA and TX) dominate because of delegation size. (for example is it by % that TX talks most about the environment?
  • some way that I can grab a page like MD( http://www.capitalwords.org/state/MD/) and keep with a timeline on the top of a local political page (then have a blog and commenting under it)  or a word (http://www.capitalwords.org/word/environment/) see the workds around the work environment and the legislators talking about it in a block of time.
  • ability to search phrases.

del.icio.us Tags: ,,

Logistics, Networks and New Intelligence

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

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

Strategically, the study notes that:

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

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

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

A Smarter Planet: New Intelligence for Smarter Supply Chains

Economic Recovery Models in Depression2.ouch

I am not an economics guy. Most of what i am picking up on the economic recovery planning comes from the Washington Post, online outlets, blogs, frontline and the random cable news chatter.

So there are definitely, circles of serious people running a different conversation about the recovery which I am not a part of. However, in everything I read and hear there is no talk about the role of networks in the recovery.

The vision I am struggling with is how our global network can quickly reconfigure and workaround problems.

It seems as the economic modeling for recovery and growth are running off models developed in the great depression (3 to 5 years of slow 2% growth) and the many economic down turns since.  Those models are wrong.

I think everyone (including Greenspan, Paulson, Bernanke and all the most minds of Wall Street ) did not see this global economy unraveling so fast. They all knew there was some BS going on and that we were in for a “pop” but the scope and speed of this crash has caught everyone by surprise.

This depression and the crash have been accelerated by the connectivity and interdependence of humanity (it all lost balance in early 2008 (oil, food, then money). We can see that now but few predicted it (AIG) (Lehman Brothers).

Some articles I have seen, talk about the crash not as a run on the bank (30s) or a crash of production (70s) but a run on the network.

In September and October, the banks and everyone else just freaked out at the complexity of the system and “pulled out the trust”. I write more on the cascading failure of the economy here but my thought patterns are not just focused on the crash. I am trying to figure out how this network gets rewired.

If the crash did not follow models, why do we think the economic recovery models follow traditional recovery trajectories?

In the networked age shouldn't trust, hope, confidence travel just as fast as the crash?

I am not talking about some new business, or new innovation.  I am thinking that once the basics of the economy are fixed can’t we expect the global network to roar back to life. The complexity and interconnectedness of our economy still has an upside.

The connections of world economy have already been built. They are now "empty" of commerce and capital. These networks are in some places "breakinimageg down" as companies fold BUT the logistics chains, relationships and networks of people are "weak ties" they should be cheap to maintain (for example if you and I worked in different parts of the world for the same company and got canned tomorrow,  we could rebuild our ties and reconnect much cheaper than in the past (70's, 30s).  (DHL Alumni as an example) How do we agitate the network channels to strengthen and stay connected even though the commerce function is temporarily dead? 

 The finance system is broken but I also think there is another scenario ( a positive black swan) that accelerates our adaptability to this crisis on orders of magnitude of difference from previous depressions and recessions.

If it is possible to fire up and jumpstart the network again then a stimulus plan needs to focus on that network effect.  

The stimulus package can't just focus on the jobs...(network actors) or the finance (pumping currency into the old pipelines) the right model needs to target creating and fostering the connectivity of the network so as the engines start again the entire network flashes to life.  In these times, we should invest in the capacity to help workers stay connected ((internet connections, $39 webbook and free online training as part of unemployment benefits?) 

I am mostly interested in making sure that recovery/stimulus/philanthropy/management efforts acknowledge the huge roll network infrastucture can play in pulling out of this tailspin and that somebody think on the macro scale how to charge up the network to deliver the acceleration that was not available in 30's and 70' etc.

No previous collapse had the internet as a cultural infrastructure for working around challenges. In the past, we needed business firms and government agencies to work around the challenges and reorganize production. 

We no longer need that.  We need ways to help the disconnected get better connected.  We need pools of money for adhoc teams to create products. We need to invest in consistent reweaving of workers and laid off workers so they can reboot their own production of services of value  (another example laidoffcamp.org )

We may likely crash and be stuck in a long and deep economic depression (then go to the wiki on nonprofit Plans for the economic crisis) OR lets assume there is hope out there and start to figure out the recovery with a little network assist or network boost.  Creating a “surprise at the speed” the entire economy rebooted.

To do that, we are going to need leaders to really think about the network framework and the roll it can play in enabling the network of global humanity to work around the nonsense in the financial system.  We are going to need aggressive sharing of government services and a willingness of government and businesses to focus on sustaining  collaborative capacity of others as part of their own survival strategy.

This is one of the blog posts that seems like it needs weeks more work to end properly but i just got to get back to sleep.



Grid Computing for Our Network?

It would be interesting to see one of these cranked up among the progressive advocacy movement for running mapping, GIS, voter file, blogosphere analysis, voice to text recognition, campaign modeling. etc. Who knows maybe we can even use distributed networks to support VOIP, SMS, campaign emailing and emergency activation phone trees.

We may not need tens of thousands of those computers like the Proteome Folding project but I am sure there are many projects at the network scale that our movement is paying through the nose for.

What kinds of projects do you avoid because the computing costs are too expensive?

The World Community GridHow Grid Computing Works

Grid computing joins together many individual computers, creating a large system with massive computational power that far surpasses the power of a handful of supercomputers. Because the work is split into small pieces that can be processed simultaneously, research time is reduced from years to months. The technology is also more cost-effective, enabling better use of critical funds.

Changing Our World Now
Grid computing is not a futuristic technology. World Community Grid is at work right now applying this technology to exciting research projects that can benefit us all.

Our first project, Human Proteome Folding, is identifying the proteins produced by human genes. With this information, scientists can understand how defects in proteins can cause disease, making it easier to find cures.
In 2003, with grid computing, in less than three months scientists identified 44 potential treatments to fight the deadly smallpox disease. Without the grid, the work would have taken more than one year to complete.

World Community Grid - About Us - How Grid Computing Works


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Food Stamp Search Suggests Hard Times Are Spreading like a Flu.


Google Trends and US Department of Agriculture Results are compared in these images. They are different.


 I was reading up on trend analysis and the predictive power of Google to "see" trends before the official government agencies. (Google Flu) I started to think about what other things people might search for in advance of "showing up" to file or request government service. These are cultural trends that we might not catch for months in actual surge in request are different that current "search trends". Is it fair to assume that the actual surge next year will include Oregon, Alabama, Arkansas, New Mexico, etc.


I don't know much about the economic shifts but I know the housing bubble burst first in NV, AZ and much of our car manufacturing is in AL, AK. Maybe someone can explain the shift more intelligently and we can test how these trends playout over the next year.






Madoff's Fraud Destroyed my Job and Threatens my Cause: Ongoing Network Failure.

While much of the coverage so far is focused on the investor victims of the Madoff fraud, I am interested in watching and supporting some of the other "victims". The people and organizations that are the on tail end of all those investments. The people that can say "Madoff Fraud Destroyed my job and threatens my life work and cause." I am inspired to look at the reactions these people in the Madoff fraud ecosystem as a early warning of how our broader sector may react to the looming collapse of individual donor, foundation and government revenues in 2009 - 2010. 

The Madoff case must serve as an accelerated case study for the rest of us on the edge of the economic disaster (and by "the rest of us" I mean you, the US, economy, everyone working for a nonprofit, everyone). 

I don't know all of the details but after surfing the Madoff stories, it seems the predominate reactions in charities are focused on responding to the needs of the organizations, grasping for ways to replace the revenue and selling assets.   Here are some of the examples...

  • Jewish Funders Network announced a $5 million loan fund
  • Groups raised emergency money for organizations (to pump revenue into the organizations) MoveOn, Theyeneedusnow.org OSI.
  • Each group is dropping into survival mode to respond (selling assets including art. cutting costs)

I assume there are big layoffs in the works at the dozens of charities but I couldn't find a story that pulled them together.   If it were "one big company" like Enron (linked in group 1000+) or Lehman Brothers, etc.  There would already be big collaborative network of former employee groups and groups. Staff would meet up and support each other, create spin offs, find ways to help each other cope and survive.  But in the nonprofit sector, we are traditionally fragmented, smaller shops and compeditive with each other when in the same space (ironically for the attention of donors and media).  In normal times, the staff, volunteer and work is buffered against collabortive impact by this fragmented, compeditive and redundant model.   However, times are different.  We are seeing entire "clusters" like the Madoff network getting hit at the same time. The next "cluster" will be the broader nonprofit sector.

How will the larger sector react?

In the larger ongoing nonprofit crisis  (assume 50% reduction in nonprofit revenues within 2 years) the challenge seems to that such a traditional reaction strategy will not work. Watching the reaction to Madoff fraud is not a scaleable response.

As a sector, we will not find a way to replace the massive volume of revenue (trillions in foundation endowments, grants, government grant cuts and individual donations) The money is going to disappear and no nonprofits are going to be around to buy or want a share of your 2 year old copier and the empty desk in your office. Mergers are expensive and high risk in good times. The broader sector will not be able to bakesale enough emergency funds.

The cuts are coming and all of our favorite issues are going to be facing a Madoff cluster collapse soon enough.  As hard as it is to think about, the survival strategy can not focus on the fate of each individual group survivor.

Decisions need to be made at the micro and maco-level of what can go. Groups and resources are going away and they are not going to return. People are going to retire.  Orgnaizations and brands, services and campaigns are going to collapse on a large scale.

The question is not if the "winner and looser" group choices are going to happen. They are. The question is how are those choices going to be made?

Do we want the macro level decisions made for us? Do we want government contracts, big donors and foundation program staff to restructure and plan the future of our sector, staff, friends and the redistribution of our assets? OR should we do this differently than other recessions? Should the network of people most effected by the crisis do the macro level thinking from the bottom up to the financial decision makers?  Would Enron employees wait until the collapse if they new it was coming to rethink the way they work?

What could be different?

I am not seeing the staff, boards, foundation program officers, donors and people who received the benefits of Madoff "investments" connecting to each other into open communications channels to figure out their combined response. 

In the Matoff case, I am not seeing new combination of the resources they want to save (Can the arts and museums ..host organizing parties for the human rights groups? Can the groups consolidate a central communications or fund raising campaign? Can the combined staff of the peace groups, human rights groups and  survivor networks find a way to look at the network balance sheet (across all the recipeint groups) and design a combined reaction and a better way to move resources (people, intellectual property and hard capital amongst each other) to achieve something important (rather than collapse int lots of little groups or closing shops)?  Can they establish a lend-lease program among the network of victims whose entire business and campaigns are now threatened by the destabilization of revenue?

Yes, all these are "unconventional" responses. But at the heart of todays culture is a connectivity that unlike the first depression, offers all of the individuals /groups a real chance to share data, insights and informaiton.  A real chance to collaborate on big large scale management projects, and a capacity to build trust and crate collective responses.   

I am not seeing a bottom up plan develop on how to react as a network.  I am not seeing a Madoff lay offs retraining program or ways that all the distributed groups and people impacted can network and reshape the way they react.  The best reponse answer is "there" in the network of people impacted by the fraud. The challenge is finding it quickly, bubbling it up and distributing it for collective action.

I wish them the best of luck and I hope the rest of us can learn from thier answers and solutions. They are a few months ahead of the rest of the economy.

I am currently working with others on (nonprofit reponse to the economic crisis wiki ) for a bottoms up and network based response plan. I encourage anyone that has them to post comments here or visit the wiki with links to other bottom up and peer to peer reactions to the Madoff crisis in the nonprofit sector. (or links to peer groups working on the response to the broader economic crisis for our sector.)

(this is one of the posts the I really like and got me thinking)


With all the bad economic news over the past months, the Madoff scandal might seem like long-ago history to some (sort of like Lehman Brothers, remember them?). To whole communities however - communities of donors, of nonprofits, and of individual activists or issues - Madoff's impact is still present and ongoing. As in natural disasters, there are both short-term and long-term needs and responses. The Madoff ripoff, a truly man-made disaster, will require the same kind of timeline and attention.

The New Assumptions : Plans for the Economic Crisis

At this stage, it is clear that nonprofit and advocacy groups are also headed for extraordinarily difficult financial times. The cash crunch for the advocacy movement will be as bad as we can imagine and far worse than we can easily manage. We need a plan for how to remain effective.

We should all begin to operate with new assumptions:

1. We are going to be poorer nation. We are going to have less money to work with and we are going to be paying off debts and expenses for years to come. We must squeeze value out of every asset we have built or purchased.The decline in the national economy is going to reduce the cash flow into the advocacy movement by between 20 and 50 percent. Almost every organization will lose staff. The progressive advocacy movement at the end of 2010 will look very different from the movement at the end of 2008. all the best "recovery plans do not really mean "go back to 2007" they mean avoid 1929.

2. Unlike large, centrally managed corporations, the movement is going to dissolve in unpredictable and erratic ways. The sector’s many externalities, as well as its unregulated and dysfunctional reward and punishment systems, will bring about a rapid, non-linear unraveling of capacity. This means that the most effective groups might not survive, and the least effective groups will not automatically disappear. Nor is there a model to predict which group, partner, campaign staff, or policy wonk is going to be around next month. No one knows what regional offices national groups will close. The groups are not coordinating reductions. The talent and assets that remain are going to be scattered across the landscape. The movement will be left with a bunch of loose threads. The economic crash is going to require a sustained effort to repair and reconnect these threads--the elements of our movement--in order to continue to mount successful campaigns.

3. The deepening recession, environmental changes, political shifts, technological evolution and the ongoing wars will combine to create movement toward rapid change and cultural instability. There will be a quickening of political, cultural and individual behavioral change. For at least two years, the federal government is going to be dominated by Democrats. They are going to be able to move legislation and government action quickly on issues like health care, energy and public works. Opportunities to influence significant events and policies are going to come in tighter and more intense waves.

These assumptions will drive the way leaders in the nonprofit sector plan their organizational budgets. In the advocacy and social change movement, however, we rely on networks in addition to organizations to lead and drive change. Just as managers are creating plans for their organizations, the networks need plans to rationally deal with the reductions in overall capacity while also capitalizing on the opportunities that these disruptions will produce. We need something that is not “more of the same,” only smaller.

If we can ask the energy industry to remake itself, if we can ask health care industry to transform, if we can assume the auto industry will be totally different ...where is the vision for our own sector?

The network plan should take advantage of the technology and organizing tools developed in the last several years to manage a constructive reorganization and establish a new model for organizing that is smarter and more effective than the current model primarily dominated by large silos of competing institutions.

Join the planning discussion over on a wiki I set up to kick start the conversations

Road Runner or Wile E Coyote?

One of my board members recently sent me a note that analogized the financial situation to the “Wile E Coyote Effect.”

You might remember the coyote running along and not realizing that he has run off the cliff.  He keeps running suspended magically by denial. He stops, feels around his feet for the ground, and then looks down to find the ground has disappeared beneath him.

As nonprofit leaders, here we stand. Some of us are stopped on the edge of the cliff, some have kept running and are suspended way out over the cliff, and some of us are holding the anvil over our heads. 

Our movement has received a lot of our 2008 budget that has the Economic Crisis hit us so late in the year it is difficult for us to act fairly project 2009 budgets.  additionally there is a lot of confusing information circulating out there on how philanthropy changes in an economic crisis.

The big overall studies are misleading to people in the advocacy and campaign space. In 2001, the last big recession the crash was created in part by terrorism. The philanthropy and overall numbers of giving stayed neutral or went up because people gave more to 9/11 relief funds and they started going to church in huge numbers again.   I would be interested in more studies that tease out the type of giving targeted at anything except advocacy and campaign related donations during previous economic downturns. 

I'm focused on this because I believe it is really important to networks.The entire movement is not going to go out of business. Many of our groups are not go out of business. There may even be a growth in the number of groups that are formed as people with the skills get laid-off from larger groups, and there are very low barriers to starting groups, and the tools that they have in a new start up are identical to the ones that they had in the large institution. The movement may go the number of groups engaged in the advocacy. In places where there is money, we will see a swarming towards it. Some of that swarming will come from large institutions that shift message or mission or creep over to grab market share of the money that exist or the available people who are laid off from these other institutions will set up new brands in the niche to compete for money. 

Focused on the aggregate number because there will be a network effect associated with the economic downturn. Most managers can handle a reduction from 20 up to 40%. It is hard, but with focus on the books and asking everyone to contribute a manager teams really squeeze an organization on travel budgets, new purchases, staff layoffs, benefit reductions, meeting cost, new initiatives and cut program expansions.  It is painful but it is manageable. just like the American banks were able to hold back money, reduce their exposure to risk, and cut costs.

The problem is that if everyone goes through this at the same time within a particular network you can create a network collapse which exacerbates the problem. if you are running a national campaign on park funding and you work with it coalition or network of thousands groups, or 100 groups. With each one contributing several hours of staff time per month to the campaign, how do you manage a reduction of 20 to 40% when you are not in charge of which resources stay and which ones go? how do you manage when you don't know which of the 40 people out of the hundreds that you work with, are not to be here next month for your big campaign? 

These are the network effects of a downturn and the overall numbers are the numbers that matter when you're thinking about network planning.

There are going to be great opportunities for change in 2009. In the economic crisis will create opportunities and create problems. It will create these problems and opportunities for groups and for our networks.

On the network level, are we prepared to take advantages of the opportunities that will emerge for our advocacy networks because of the downturn?   On the network level, do we have a plan to avoid the obstacles that this crisis will create?

My sense is that there is a lot of thinking around how to take advantage of the network opportunities but there is little planning or thinking around mitigating the network effects of the downturn.

join the planning conversation. (it is a wetpaint wiki site)

Forget a Rerun. Watch Clay Shirky tonight.

Clay is a great thinker in this space and the impact of the culture revolution on organizing. Clay lays out a nice summary of the shifts and what they may mean to group expression and advocacy.

It is through immersion in this type of understanding that drives us to start to think of an Advocacy2.0. Stop asking how does the network help me do what I am doing today better. Ask how does the network change the strategy to get what I want?

Network-centric advocacy and organizing meets New government

The NYTimes moment has arrived.

The network and the movement combined to set a new standard for organizing . We might even see network-centric government. A government that creates and fosters social ties among its people. A government that helps establish peer to peer communication around the biggest issues and challenges. A government that creates shared resources that can be mixed and reused. A government that provides open transparency and feedback data that people throughout society can use to to identify important societal trends. A government that welcomes outside leadership and engagement. A government that realizes that the answers to its challenges are not in the handful of expert staff but distributed in the power and skills of the people it serves.

A government not focused on the survival of one player, one lobby or one interest group but a government that embraces the roll as a network organizer. Not reaching out to get others with only options to "Join or donate" but one that offers engagement, leadership and the ability to really influence outcomes to all participants.

Network-centric governance and leadership.


“I think it is very significant that he was the first post-boomer candidate for president,” Mr. Andreessen said. “Other politicians I have met with are always impressed by the Web and surprised by what it could do, but their interest sort of ended in how much money you could raise. He was the first politician I dealt with who understood that the technology was a given and that it could be used in new ways.” The juxtaposition of a networked, open-source campaign and a historically imperial office will have profound implications and raise significant questions. Special-interest groups and lobbyists will now contend with an environment of transparency and a president who owes them nothing. The news media will now contend with an administration that can take its case directly to its base without even booking time on the networks.

Pew Election Snap-Shot

Add it to your notes. 46% of Americans. I wonder what kind of total turnout we get. Are the online audiences actually the critical mass of voters?


The Internet and the 2008 Election 6/15/2008 | MemoReport | Aaron Smith Lee Rainie A record-breaking 46% of Americans have used the internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views and mobilize others. And Barack Obama's backers have an edge in the online political environment. Furthermore, three online activities have become especially prominent as the presidential primary campaigns have progressed: First, 35% of Americans say they have watched online political videos--a figure that nearly triples the reading the Pew Internet Project got in the 2004 race. Second, 10% say they have used social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace to gather information or become involved. This is particularly popular with younger voters: Two-thirds of internet users under the age of 30 have a social networking profile, and half of these use social networking sites to get or share information about politics or the campaigns. Third, 6% of Americans have made political contributions online, compared with 2% who did that during the entire 2004 campaign.

The Strategy of Web Superiority and Web Dominance of an issue.

In the past, I have highlighted the value of web dominance and in 2003 talked about the value of "web superiority" with the hope of flooding the chatter, setting the tempo and message online no matter where online influentials looked they would see your message.

It seems like a more doable strategy the smaller the issue.  If you work on farming issues in WI, or river protection in Georgia dominating the web discussion would be a very easy territory to take over. I am surprised anyone can pull it off on a national issue with so much attention and so many sites but check this snap shot of Obama vs. McCain.

Here is a snap shot of how that plays out ...

  Online snap shot obama mccain


Lesson summary from the financial crisis.

This is an absolutely brilliant. Deepak Bhargava, Center for Community Change finally creates the right narrative that has driven the US economy into this mess. I have been waiting to see how this would play out and which party might be able to build the right narrative that makes it clear.  Deepak nails it.   We have watched groups advocate for change on lending for years.  Hopefully, this is the moment that helps people listen to Center for Community Change as a fresh voice from Main St. 

I recommend the complete read.

Link: www.communitychange.org.

Abuse and exploitation of poor people of color eventually harms everyone.  Predatory lending stripped wealth and homes from low-income communities across the country –but calls for reform generally fell on deaf ears in Washington.  Let’s be clear: the reason for this inaction is that the predators were wealthy and mostly white, and the prey were poor and largely people of color.  As is often the case, however, poor people of color were the “canary in the coal mines” for techniques that ultimately were used on a broader population through the sub-prime crisis and brought about the meltdown of balance sheets.

Ironically, some conservatives are now telling the ridiculous story that it was irresponsible borrowing by poor people of color and activism to promote community reinvestment that resulted in the crisis.  Progressives should be pushing out the message that, in fact, we are all paying the price for the failure to crack down on predatory lending because many perceived it to be “not their problem,’ while others profited from it.  We are –really!—all in this together, and when our policy fails to attend to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, there is no escaping the karmic boomerang.

OpenRegulations.org and CapitolWords.org

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

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

Link: OpenRegulations.org.

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


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

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

It is definitely worth watching.

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

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

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

Small Group Dynamics. Small is better because factions can not survive? Nope.

There are some interesting assumptions in this theory of the "inefficiency coefficient." I think physicswold has it wrong (how often do we get to say that?)

Stefan Turner says that inefficiency goes up when there are enough people to support independent coalitions and factions. That seems to make sense, but it should be universal across government, private sector, and public interest sectors.

However, as the barriers to coordination go down, it would seem that smaller coalitions and factions will be able to sustain themselves with less energy (need less people to maintain a viable faction then in 1933). We have actually observed increased fragmentation and increased inefficiency which is the opposite of what the big theory and conclusion would suggest.

This methodology doesn't make sense to me. There are other things at play. It is as if the indicators for success and the political systems that demand large cabinetes (include more people because the culture is deeply fragmented) are conflicting rather than any proof in the magic of the 20 people to a group. It may be something even more fundamental to human nature people are less willing to question authority in bigger groups? People less will to challenge leadership in larger group settings? Leaders less willing to throw open questions and reverse thier opinions in larger groups?

Less perfect information would lead to worse decisions not group size. Close the doors on opinions and limiting the seats of power as a way to make better government choices would only make sense to physics and math guy.

The real challenge then is to look for the ways to scale small group dynamic. To access the wisdom of the crowd and scale effective coordination using better communicaiton skills and technology.

Or you could tell the EU to limit committee size... Are they actually buying that?

Physicists quantify the 'coefficient of inefficiency' - physicsworld.com

Parkinson, who died in 1993, discovered a strong correlation between a committee’s ability to make a good decision, and its size. In particular, Parkinson found that committees with more than about 20 members are much more ineffectual at making decisions than smaller groups — something he dubbed the “coefficient of inefficiency”.

While many organizations are aware of the 20 person rule, Thurner and colleagues had not been able to find any reference to a mathematical explanation of the coefficient. So they set out to first empirically verify Parkinson’s law and then develop a mathematical model to describe

Tag cloud and analysis of 952 ProgressiveExchange emails. (what has this list been talking about in a glance.)

I have a killer project in the works. I am not sure Net2 application and/or presentation does the project justice.Progressexhange_folder

The Advocacy Email Index will change the way we scan emails and understand the movements. Who wants to be on our our allies email list? This project will help us scan and navigate thousands of emails more easily. Users will figure out new ways to find allies and swarm issues.

I want to know what all the groups at Green Media Toolshed are talking about (clients, or peace movement, yada..yada) Green Media Toolshed has 194 member groups. I wish I knew what issues they are working on today, this week, over the last year. What is important to them? What are they discussion with their members in email? I want to know so I can swarm on issues and support folks. I want help our members network better and self-organize on issues. I need a technorotti or digg for the issues of the movement.

My inbox is full and I can't seem to read newsletters fast enough. Our best content is in our enewsletters. I need to be able to process email faster. I might know more about training needs, expertise and partnership opportunities. I need to know the words and trends in my network. (images of progressive exchange - inbox folder and tag cloud. It is all email subjects since Jan 1. What does it tell you?


The Advocacy Email Index
will identify key words used in emails to members. We need to know who is talking about what, and where. By illustrating the community “chatter”, this tool will empower messaging, appeals and issue framing. It will help our disconnected and fragmented movement swarm.

Vote for it. Pop it on net2 and we will get it finished.

We also ran on Center for American Progress emails....over on our blog.

A better title would also be great. (comments)

PreOrder: Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

Clay has pulled together a solid theory of organizing and networks. I can not wait for the new book and hope everyone picks up a copy. He is a solid leader in the space and has thrown down a new set of case studies and frames for thinking about what make networks function.

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations .

A revelatory examination of how the wildfire-like spread of new forms of social interaction enabled by technology is changing the way humans form groups and exist within them, with profound long-term economic and social effects-for good and for ill

A handful of kite hobbyists scattered around the world find each other online and collaborate on the most radical improvement in kite design in decades. A midwestern professor of Middle Eastern history starts a blog after 9/11 that becomes essential reading for journalists covering the Iraq war. Activists use the Internet and e-mail to bring offensive comments made by Trent Lott and Don Imus to a wide public and hound them from their positions. A few people find that a world-class online encyclopedia created entirely by volunteers and open for editing by anyone, a wiki, is not an impractical idea. Jihadi groups trade inspiration and instruction and showcase terrorist atrocities to the world, entirely online. A wide group of unrelated people swarms to a Web site about the theft of a cell phone and ultimately goads the New York City police to take action, leading to the culprit's arrest.

With accelerating velocity, our age's new technologies of social networking are evolving, and evolving us, into new groups doing new things in new ways, and old and new groups alike doing the old things better and more easily. You don't have to have a MySpace page to know that the times they are a changin'. Hierarchical structures that exist to manage the work of groups are seeing their raisons d'être swiftly eroded by the rising technological tide. Business models are being destroyed, transformed, born at dizzying speeds, and the larger socialimpact is profound.

One of the culture's wisest observers of the transformational power of the new forms of tech-enabled social interaction is Clay Shirky, and Here Comes Everybody is his marvelous reckoning with the ramifications of all this on what we do and who we are. Like Lawrence Lessig on the effect of new technology on regimes of cultural creation, Shirky's assessment of the impact of new technology on the nature and use of groups is marvelously broad minded, lucid, and penetrating; it integrates the views of a number of other thinkers across a broad range of disciplines with his own pioneering work to provide a holistic framework for understanding the opportunities and the threats to the existing order that these new, spontaneous networks of social interaction represent

Here is Clay ..riffing on space.

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.

Celebrities have favorite issues. (Govcom issue map crawling looktothestars.org)

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 looktothestars.org.
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

Birdcinema: New way to build birding community!

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

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

Pew Press Release on Internet Coverage and Use

This is all Pew.

I expect to need to quote and point to these stats again when presenting culture changes to the advocacy community leaders. Unfortunately, our leaders and strategists too often seem to fall in the final 41% (but then again they also usually don't watchTv and know what OMB stands for Office of Management and Budget....)

Food for thought from Pew...

Fully 85% of American adults use the internet or cell phones – and most use both.

8% of adults exploit the connectivity, the capacity for self expression, and the interactivity of modern information technology.

Fully half of adults have a more distant or non-existent relationship to modern information technology.

Some of this diffidence is driven by people’s concerns about information overload; some is related to people’s sense that their gadgets have more capacity than users can master; some is connected to people’s sense that things like blogging and creating home-brew videos for YouTube is not for them; and some is rooted in people’s inability to afford or their unwillingness to buy the gear that would bring them into the digital age.

8% of the adult population – contains long-time and frequent online users who don’t like the extra availability that comes with ICTs.

10% of the population – expresses worries about information overload and doesn’t see ICTs helping their personal productivity.

8% of Americans are by any measure deeply involved with Web 2.0 activities, such as blogging, sharing creations online, or remixing digital content.

8% occasionally take advantage of interactivity, but if they had more experience and connectivity, they might do more. They are late adopters of the internet. Few have high-speed connections at home.

15% have some technology, but it does not play a central role in their daily lives. They like how information technology makes them more available to others and helps them learn new things.

11% indifferent despite having either cell phones or online access, these users find connectivity annoying.

15% with neither cell phones nor internet connectivity tend to be older adults. few of them have computers or digital cameras, but they are content with old media.

The interesting question does not stop there but goes deeper to look at who are the influencers in all age groups and segments of society. Where are the influentials in new markets on these? Do the old people that are "off the grid" often turn to more "wired" peers or younger crowd for information and services. (my mom would self report in the last categories but she turns to all her kids and students as the final sneakernet bridge to connect her to information culture. Conversely, how much do the most active 8% produce "self-expression" content for others that don't fall in that category?

Genocide Networks: International Strategies to Interfere with Genocide Dynamics

Here is an interesting paper from Tom Glaisyer, one of our new staff members thinking about the role of networks in peace and international organizing.

...social computing tools have an important potential to transform many more people into interested parties taking action against genocide.Because it will be impossible to ignore their individual actions or the combined political pressure that they can generate, positive actions to intervene will be taken.

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

Nice work Tom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Pushing_Power_to_the_Edges_05-06-05.pdf

Draft: Lessons from the Election and Vultures

I am still looking for all the examples from friends. I need to clean this up a bit and shorten it but this is the direction of the lessons from election that are of interest. We should all work to refine the lessons learned from this election cycle so that we can build on our successes and continue to inspire Americans to walk the path to a more progressive and genuinely compassionate America.

This election is the first time in 12 years that we can look to our own strategists, communicators and online organizers to figure out what happened. We must avoid taking the wrong lessons away (or here) from the progressive turn America took Tuesday.

Regardless of the GOP spin, we know the President and Rove did not hand this election to Democrats. Republicans had the levers of power ripped from their corrupt hands. At every turn, the progressive movement has been counter-punching the conservative machine. They made big mistakes as they often do but this time the mistakes were so big and we were effectively organized that they could not turn the agenda and debate.

We know the GOP did not loose because they were ill prepared or poorly organized. They were not out gunned in message and polling work, GOTV operation, data, media control or technology. The GOP power machine was broken up, rolled back, crushed and neutralized.

The DSCC, DNC, DCCC, Unions and the 527s, did a great job. A new power base was organized to fight the dominance of talk radio. I really want to study (Jon Stuart and Stephen Colbert take on Rush and Talk Radio... Comedy Central clips get played on all major media as wrap up of "the morning funnies" in ways Rush never did. Additionally, the huge ratings and online audiences) and an online netroots (including bloggers, our future, MoveOn, and old Gore, Kerry lists) organized to counterbalance the power of the GOP evangelicals (in a unique moment of pathetic disorganization still showed up.), Democratic investment in micro-targeting data, and solid field work of MoveOn, 527s and Unions organizing drove out the vote.

This cycle there was a huge improvement in communications (everyone had blogs) and transparency. It was the first time that groups could work off of each other effectively without being coordinated. It is not legal to coordinate but information can be made public and everyone can work from public information. Using public informaiton in RSS feeds, rss readers and open information was almost as good as being able to email each other.

There were presentations in hotel rooms as far back as Feb 06 that laid out detailed plans on a seat by seat basis to win much almost exactly as we did (kudos to Karl). The plan was not funded. However, a collaborating network was able to realize the opportunity to turn those exact seats via alternative strategies.

Bunch of Vultures

I am an environmentalists so that is not a slam. I love vultures. SIDE NOTE BACKGROUND…. Vultures scatter across huge grids of the earth. Some Vultures fly relatively low to the ground using smell while others circle way up high on winds and thermals using sight. The low to the ground vultures can only cover small bits of territory, they use smell and would likely starve alone. The vultures in the sky have no smell and use sight. It is hard to find road kill from a mile up. When one smells food the vulture circles. The vulture hones in on the smell. The high sky vultures then shift over toward a circling vulture. This is like a signal flare to the other low flying vultures to move and partner with the other "smellers", the vulture that finds food first drops from the sky at a speed that notifies vultures in near by grids see “I found food”. The dive of the high sky vulture triggers their neighbors for miles, the chain of actions can pull vultures to create huge ad hoc carcass parties. WE were a successful bunch of vultures.

On a systems level, there was a huge set of infrastructure slowly syncing up for this election. The 24 hour news, youtubeing all ads, email lists and information awareness fed by open information on blogs and email appeals made this race different for the grassroots. Top party leaders have always had that kind of awareness of what is going on but now an avid blog reader could stay as briefed on the national landscape as the party bosses. The MT blogger could challenge mistakes of a national party and the party could turn a few million to focus back in MT and TN in the final weeks based on what they were understanding about the success of 527s or gotv operations.

In the final weeks, netroots candidates picked up money or momentum. DCCC and DSCC picked up the energy of the netroots. The Party and 527s dropped in media help, environmental groups started feeling traction on the LCV dirty dozen … the election swarm was bossless and leader full. It was uncoordinated self-organizing. The GOP had centralized all these operations under Rove and the party but the connectivity, transparency and speed are what enabled the progressives to swarm just as effectively.

The synchronization pulled efforts and leaders into closer proximity to each other. The tension across leaders grew (it seemed like a disorganized battle royal across netroots, DNC, DSCC, DCCC, consultants and often the candidates too). AS they worked closer the friction grew louder but the overall result in the field was positive.

It is this distributed self-organizing that is of most interest. It is also this lesson that is likely to be lost as different parties try to centralize power and claim as much credit as others will let them. I look for lessons in 2006 in the network management. I am very interesting in the macro-level network lessons that need to complement the lessons politicians, field, tacticians and messengers will write. It is the network lessons that start to draw the interesting thread of the competing stories together into a stronger more cohesive understanding. You don't learn about floods and rivers by focusing on the raindrops.

What were the lessons?

No single message. No sole messenger. There will be lots of assessments of messages and values. However, based on the type of ads and themes on Youtube and candidate websites there was not unifying message or frame. The message of “new direction” helped but it didn't seem to get legs. The Democrats did what they always do they talked about policy, programs and what was popular in the moment (corruption, stem cell,protecting kids.) CAP draws these into themes. We can put to rest the idea that you need one frame, one message to win. Getting rid of corruption and change in Iraq seemed to be national themes but in many important races candidates emerged that had very conservative and moderate messages on the war until the end (PA, MO, MT, VA) . The meta-narrative is dead.

A frame of the President “Stay the course - don't cut and run" was turned from a great frame for the GOP into anchor around the political fate of a party as the situation in Iraq went into chaos. Twisted in a matter of months into a epitaph of disgrace, the moniker and bumper sticker slogan of the White House’s stubborn strategy of no strategy.

After 2004, there was much lamenting about values voters, one message and one frame. In every race the candidates and groups knew the national message and talking points but they chose to ignore them because they knew it would cost them too many votes or distract the local momentum. If we insist a universal progressive message or new values frame, we ignore the wisdom of our own crowd. There are some analyst that will continue to insist on one tightly controlled national message but they will be ignoring the lesson no single message, no sole messenger. (This is the direct conflict to the GOP national message discipline…terror and economy which ended up not playing in their favor.) In any case, it is nice to see that you can win without a unified message as well as you can win with one (Bush 04) so unified message or not a determinate of success.

You know you don't know.
There were many events in the cycle that threw the momentum back and forth. It was these events that shifted tides in the races from the Allen race’s self destructive fumblethon to Foley case reconnecting GOP back to the culture of coruption. NJ courts last week ruling on gay marriage to last minute Sen. Kerry gaffe. All shifting again as Rush attacked Fox.

Some of these were predictable, most of them were not. The ability to adapt was one of the keys to success. The diversity of message and messengers enable the progressives to hammer on successful gaffes by the opponents very successfully. The bloggers fed the media and sustained stories. In a distributed leadership and multi-message campaign, there was a capacity to test reactions without approval from the boy genius architect and commander.

Shenanigans get caught in the Connected Age.
The evil robo callers, voting problems, voter suppression are thankfully no longer effective strategies. The connected base from both parties will hunt this down and publicize it instantly. The connected grassroots will put out a bounty ($250,000 from MoveOn) so that folks document and push the issue. The media coverage becomes so all consuming that the media is hungry for content and will cover voter suppression and harassment. Media also saturates our culture so the risk associated with suppression has also gone up.

When centralized organizing fails it fails completely.
Diversity is a strategy. The fight between DNC, DSCC, Netroots, DCCC was the key to diversity in approaches to the campaign, investments in races and messages. The “50 state strategy” was brilliant as was the netroots organizing and the old school DSCC strategy to have the war chest to move resources into play in the final two weeks and abandon OH, PA to bring the campaign to VA, TN and MT. NetRoots worked on some long shots made critical support in the lead up to election day competitive races possible.( Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy, Jerry McNerney, Tim Walz, Paul Hodes Jim Webb)

The netroots could not have done it alone but they helped candidates along until all the other players could pile on to help. Conversely the complete reliance on evangelicals to be the GOTV base coordinated by Rove 72 hour plan left no room for error or to easily replace evangelical leadership fallen into abusive self-loathing while hiring prostitutes .

Connections and Connectivity Made a Huge Difference.
The diversity moved fast and was transparent. This was not a campaign of back room deals. The cards and thinking on every race was “out there” candidates, parties, issue groups, 527s and every organizer had tools, blogs and outreach organizing capacity at their finger tips. Want to know who was going to work on GOTV in Ohio …Google. Groups that could coordinate were on each others IM networks (the second biggest shock in the Foley scandal was that a congressmen could IM).

The connectivity made a difference from the rapid use and deployment of youtube video to entire campaigns finally working in shared intranets. Creating ads that could be microtargeted or video that could be quickly shared with reporters and other influentials.

Move It OR Loose It
It was a campaign of mobilization. Volunteers organizing ads, opposition research, field activities, attacks in the press, attacks online. Record mid-term turnout mattered in all the races. The unsung hero of the election was the phone. The distributed phones and impact cell organizing had from youthnoise’s victhevote to MoveOn’s phone parties. The field and GOTV operations of 10 years ago with radios and quarters is a thing of the past. Mobilization started with mobile phones at house parties phonebanking, in the street on GOTv and across networks of friends that collaborated on instant needs in a campaigns from the visibility, to fundraising to candidate briefing up to the minute. Voice connection was everywhere at all times because of cell phones.

Mass Volunteer
Mass Volunteer and mass network coordination is still a challenge but shows enormous potential. Ask volunteers from all the big states. Were you used effectively? Were there ways you could have improved the operation of volunteering and the universal answer is yes. From the old strategy to sign up to volunteer emails ..give us all your interest …then the only thing you get is donation appeals (happened on multiple lists I was sniffing) to hundreds of hours of potential support early in the cycle wasted in not thinking through the scale of modern volunteer operations. Mass volunteer systems (Moveon made 7 million calls) and shared network organizing was a big missed opportunity but given the creativity of the bloggersphere and party operatives one that showed the power of volunteers from Googlebomb to Ads created by volunteers.

Ads and data matter.
For better or worse winning an election is about reaching out to people that are to busy to read the policy papers. Advertisement and direct mail reaches those people helps them understand the issues and provide inspiration to act. In every race, ads supported shifting perceptions. drove Michael Steel in MD , Webb in VA. We had data and targeting operations and we know that that helped. Exploiting data on everyone is now considered a strategy for democracy and the progressives are catching up with this invasive snooping. (i am not thrilled about it but it seems to have worked well)

God is not a US citizen. God doesn’t vote.
Moral values, religion and god are not owned by the GOP. It is impossible to stand up for a long time to excite a base that God is “on your side” when ultimately that statement is a lie. God votes early and often on both tickets. Claiming God is a looser strategy. Letting others walk away with your god is a looser strategy. Casey and other candidates held firm on spiritual and religious beliefs.


Iraq and corruption fueled the opportunity, it was likely our network that saved us. It is very important that in the weeks and months that follow that the urge to streamline doesn't end up strengthening a few of the actors while weakening the network.

If we are successful in laying a new careful plan which supports, measures and monitors decentralized coordination strategies we may not allow any leader to exert absolute control on point by point progress but we can defend the country, the party and the power of the government from being monopolized and controlled by any one leader of any party.

We can not claim to support diversity without decentralizing strategy. We can not claim to be building a new strategy that will not really lift the networks power to function.

Fence for Economic Refugees: Or a new work plan for 18,000 Poor?

$2,000,000,000 for 700 miles of border fence.... According to accounting practices fences depriciate over 7 years. The GOP's new fence costs $285 million per year for 700 miles. So ...about $408,000 per mile, per year. 5208 ft per mile or $78 per foot per year.

The average immigrant salary $15,000. We could pay about 18,000 immigants to live 200 ft. apart along all 700 miles of the border. They could sit there and nicely ask folks to go home. They could call for help if they needed it much better than a fence and gizmos.

What could you do with $2,000,000,000?

Zack Exley: The People: Think Bold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zack drives it home from his organizing experience ...

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

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

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

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

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

Republican Ipod! Ken Melman : Invites you to network: GOP network ...

Does the GOP get the power of social networks? Yes.

>> From: Chairman Ken Mehlman

>> Date: April 28, 2006 10:01:58 PM CDT

>> Subject: XXXX, You're Invited to Change Politics


>> You have a powerful new tool to grow our Party from the bottom up.

>> It's a website built around you - with your personal message, your

>> photos, links to your friends online, and the ability to set your

>> personalized grassroots goals. The new activist network will

>> revolutionize online politics - and we're launching it with a bang on


>> And when it's all over, the most successful house parties in America

>> will receive a special thank you.


>> Here's how you can be a part of this exciting launch. First - set up

>> your May 22 house party today. When you create your party, you'll

>> also be able to set up your site with grassroots goals tied to

>> the party - whether it's grassroots fundraising for a Republican

>> victory in November, recruiting volunteers, or registering new

>> voters.


>> Make your party a friend - raiser simply by bringing friends and

>> neighbors together. If you recruit at least one new volunteer, voter,

>> or donor through your MyGOP - powered house party, you and your

>> guests will be eligible to participate in a special conference call

>> with Republican leaders on the evening of May 22.


>> As a special thank you, the hosts of the five MyGOP house parties

>> that raise the most money for the Republican Party through MyGOP from

>> 10 or more friends will receive a special Republican edition iPod

>> Video*. To see what it looks like, click here.


>> The dollars you raise, the volunteers you recruit, and the voters you

>> register will determine the outcome of this fall's elections - and

>> the direction of our country for years to come.

>> * The Republican National Committee is not affiliated with Apple

>> Computer, maker of the iPod Video.

There are lots of reasons this is interesting and lots of ways it can be done better in true network building. Do the networks have a say in the agenda? Do they have ability to use the tools to raise money for charity or other directed investments by the network? Is there total "awareness" of folks across the network? Are the reputation of network actors tracked by each other.

I am suggesting you not join but it does not look like organizing social change by focusing on the network is unique to progressives. Both parties seem to understand the idea of distributing fundraising out to the edge but that strategy is really only the tip of the iceberg.

On a Personal Note: NOW THE GOP video IPOD --
What are the features of the Special Republican Ipod....
1. It says all the music is in there (but there are none).
2. It is the first Ipod to digitize bullshit.
3. It comes preloaded with the news for the next three years ahead from FOX future casting.
4. It is the only Ipod that also records all your conversations and uploads them to the NSA.
5. It has 5 times the heavy metals and pollution with a sticker on the back encouraging you not to recycle.
6. It only works for rich white people.
7. The adult channel filter also catches New York Times, CNN and facts as "inappropriate".
8. It only works 3 months out of the year and then must be stored in TX to recharge.
9. It runs on lobbyist cash not batteries.
10. The favorite song count is always off by thousands of votes in the wrong direction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work on Global Foreign Policy and International Issues? : Come be a paid Fellow! Help Network a Movement.

This is a link to day job stuff. However, if you are one of the 36 people that read the blog and you work on US policy issues in the nonprofit world you should know about the following paid "fellow" opportunity.

Link: Work with us | Netcentric Campaigns.

Netcentric Campaigns seeks a Connect US Fellow to assist in the research, development and application of cutting edge social networking theory and communication technology to foreign policy advocacy. The Fellow will work directly with Netcentric Campaigns to assist in the research, design and implementation of pilot projects designed to support and strengthen the advocacy efforts of organizations working to promote responsible U.S. global engagement. The fellowship will provide the selected individual the opportunity to learn and apply new network-centric communication technology and advocacy strategies. We hope that the fellow will return to the non-profit advocacy field to disseminate these concepts within their organizations and professional networks at the conclusion of this time-limited fellowship. This position also provides advocates with an opportunity to expand their familiarity with the foreign policy field and professional and social networks. Any applicant who meets the qualifications will be considered; however candidates from the Connect US community who plan to participate in the advocacy community at the conclusion of the fellowship will be given preference.

Save a Baby from SIDS: Always put infants on thier backs to sleep: The impact of communications efforts on a campaign.

Good message and new messengers save lives in the outreach to African American community. Andy Goodman does a really nice overview of the impact culture, race and messengers can have on the effectivenes of message delivery. The core message... put infant children to sleep on their backs to save them from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) did not change but by playing around with the communications campigns saved lives.

The communications message "Back to Sleep" is nice and catchy slogan but saving your baby from death is a pretty strong motivator especcially if all you need to do is remember to put them on their back. The more direct litature and and campaign carried the message more effectively. Andy really hones in on the messenger aspect which played a role but I think the new campaign just carried the core message more clearly. I would guess finding more effective "channels" to the target audinece was hugely important and the final image and messenger shifts made the materials comfortable to distribute and peaked interest.

started distributing brochures (including the one pictured here) that emphasized “safe sleep for your baby,” a phrase that avoided possible confusion. Images of black mothers, fathers, and infants were
used liberally. African American parents were very receptive to the revised campaign ...

Disparities in death rates between black infants and white infants still exist, but the gap has narrowed. Between 2000 and 2003, the number of black infants dying from SIDS dropped 17%, and the more culturally sensitive outreach conducted by NBCDI and other groups undoubtedly helped.

Andy's letter is always worth the read.

Cross Post on GMT Blog

28 Million Text Messages for Political Speech: Anyone Listening yet?

This is worth thinking about:

Over a million people listened to rock and pop musicians at venues across four continents on Saturday. More than 26 million people worldwide sent text messages on Saturday to support Live 8, setting a world record for a single event, organizers said.They also had expected two billion people to tune in worldwide, using the Internet, television and radio, although no exact estimate has been provided.
In Edinburgh, near where the G8 meets, 200,000 people marched peacefully to back the Make Poverty History campaign.
"For God's sake, take this seriously. Don't behave normally. Don't look for compromises. Be great," a Live 8 statement said, addressing leaders.

Hmmm. cell phones as a tool for activism... Join us at MobileActive

Technology Fuels Collective Sparring Over Bolton, but to What End? : PDF : Are We Hitting the Wall?

The idea that mass-communications and activations are now canceling out each other should be a call to start to take network-centric advocacy strategy seriously? How many folks sign up for all the issues you care about? How many of you (if you did) would feel more empowered and truly engaged? Are you engaged if you click a link like a monkey that fills out your prefilled action email petition only to find out that the group really knows that strategy won't win but they want you on the "list" so they can email you in the future for money.

Do we really think the American public doesn't see right through the scam? Building new engagement means actually opening up participation in meaningful ways (yes using technology to do it) to millions of Americans. If we can not think of ways to inspire and engage people on better terms the failure is not of the technology but our failure. We need to synchronize skill and intelligence so that we can synchronize resistance and voice. Now we are only working on letting the mass communication infrastructure carry our group voices to the decision makers. Guess what, the decision makers are catching on. The "haves" have figured out how to mass produce the email footprint of a real grassroots movement when no movement exist.

We therefore need to design strategies that really demonstrate the power of people connected by technology and a culture of connectivity. We need to stop doing the same things that robo callers and spammers have been able to do with a few hundred bucks. Great Article! Important Wake Up Call.

Senator Chafee and his staff do pay attention to emails and calls initiated by advocacy groups, admits Hourahan, “but after a while when you have so many calls and emails and blast faxes from one phone number, impact subsides.” Advocacy organizations often call their members, then patch them through to the government official of choice, which some say results in calls from people who have no idea what they’re supposed to be for or against

More than Half Ask Not to Be Contacted Again!

This is a little scrap of advocacy in the age of connectivity. The user community across four major organizations dealing with a huge public swarm of aid sees trends that "don't contact me ....I'll find you.

It is OK and a huge success that we are letting non-joiners participate in relief and they actually believe they won't be contacted again. My concern is that the membership and fundraising gurus will store the data and use it for data mining in the future.

A third online giving trend is that more than half of new donors are asking to not be contacted again by relief agencies. “We usually hope to obtain donor information,” says Toby Smith, an Internet strategist with CARE USA, “but we’re looking on the bright side and are happy to see the donations when they’re most needed.”

What are your gut feelings that they won't be pestered again? Maybe a opt-in in the thank you card...Can any nonprofit really leave people alone and respect the public's ability to monitor issues without the nonporfit keeping them on a list?

$350 million donated over the Internet to tsunami disaster relief efforts to date, nonprofit fundraisers are observing four trends in online giving, reports GetActive Software, Inc., a company that provides web-based relationship management services to nonprofits such as CARE USA, Oxfam America and Save the Children USA. GetActive’s clients have raised over $30 million online since the disaster struck Southeast Asia:
1. a large percentage of relief agency financial support is coming via the Internet;
2. a vast majority of gifts to relief agencies are from new donors;
3. more than half of new online donors are asking to not be contacted again by relief agencies;
4. nonprofits of all sizes are collecting relief funds online.
........ Save the Children USA, CARE USA, and Oxfam America – are reporting that 31%, 38%, and 80%, respectively, of total tsunami giving has come via their websites.

You are what you buy: Do you buy membership or change? Organizations or Networks?

SethGodin: on Jeff Jarvis.

You are what you buy

Ken Mehlman, Bush campaign manager, reveals the bottom-line marketing strategy that led him to victory. It's the exact same strategy that sells cars: market segmentation.

No, we are not a red v. blue nation. We are Volvo v. Lincoln nation.
"If you drive a Volvo and you do yoga, you are pretty much a Democrat," Mr. Mehlman told an assembly of the nation's Republican governors here. "If you drive a Lincoln or a BMW and you own a gun, you're voting for George Bush." ...
"We did what Visa did," Mr. Mehlman said. "We acquired a lot of consumer data. What magazine do you subscribe to? Do you own a gun? How often do the folks go to church? Where do you send your kids to school? Are you married?
"Based on that, we were able to develop an exact kind of consumer model that corporate America does every day to predict how people vote - not based on where they live but how they live," he said. "That was critically important to our success."

Look at your organization. Look at the foundation, party and strategy you are buying ... Are you supporting the grassroots networks? Are you buying tools for the grassroots? or for the professionals? Are you empowering people or brands? Are the assumptions at the core of your organizing that it is "just to" complicated for grassroots activists.. can the public participate in more ways than giving money?

Advocacy for the Age of Connectivity: Frames of the Debate on the Left

"Don't Think of an Elephant" is a good collection of essays and thoughts by George Lakoff.  Lakoff is a professor of linguistics and cognitive science at the University of California Berkeley, is a specialist in the technique of "framing," a communication tool that creates a "frame" for a message that defines the terms of the debate.
Frames help set a context for debate and Lakoff seems to have nailed the Republican strengths in this communicaiton area. It is a fantastic and thought provoking work.  Read it.
Lakoff ideas and the messages are clearly the kind of content that advocacy groups want to be pushing through the pipleines out to the public but Lakoff doesn't do enough to focus on the strategy and infrastructure that are required to frame an issue. 
Simply calling the gutting of air protections the "Dirty Skies Act" or the timber bill the "leave no tree behind act" is not going to carry the day.  These are good message frames and open the debate .."why is it the dirty skies act? " but moving a message takes horsepower, skill and infrastructure and a strategy that unifes messengers.   
Hopefully, campaigners here can understand the value of the frames and also start to question the strategy used to saturate the public with the debate.