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

Group message broadcasting for Twitter

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

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



I continue to enjoy global guerrillas is brilliant, jumping off point for organizing my thoughts about what needs to happen in advocacy movements and campaigns.

This riff that he picked up from Jamais Cascio is exactly the kind of logic that we need to apply to our issue movements.

Resilience means the capacity of an entity--such as a person, an institution, or a system--to withstand sudden, unexpected shocks, and (ideally) to be capable of recovering quickly afterwards. Resilience implies both strength and flexibility; a resilient structure would bend, but would be hard to break.


How does an issue movement or network of advocates build resiliency? What are the investments that truly create strength, flexibility and a resilient structure that would be bend but be hard to break? 

In our work, we tried to be very deliberate and intentional in prioritizing investments in capacity that in some ways are independent of the person, institution, or system. But by thinking this way we are hedging against shock and surprise (which when you step back should never be shocking or surprising ).  The framework that we have developed focuses on investments in

  • social ties
  • common language
  • communications grid
  • clarifying a vision
  • shared resources
  • investing in network leaders (vs. managers and bosses)
  • feedback mechanisms 


Additionally, every time we look at a network.  We can use this framework to pass the right kinds of questions and tease out an understanding of what's missing and what components are preventing the network from becoming more highly resilient and functional.

Netcentic View - Globalism Goes Viral -

Here is a great riff by Brooks spelling out the case for a network-centric approach to building response systems to mange change in the 21st century. It is the same uncertainty and need for experimentation that makes the case for netcentric change organizing.

the decentralized approach has coped reasonably well with uncertainty. It is clear from the response, so far, that there is an informal network of scientists who have met over the years and come to certain shared understandings about things like quarantining and rates of infection. It is also clear that there is a ton they don’t understand.

A single global response would produce a uniform approach. A decentralized response fosters experimentation.

The bottom line is that the swine flu crisis is two emergent problems piled on top of one another. At bottom, there is the dynamic network of the outbreak. It is fueled by complex feedback loops consisting of the virus itself, human mobility to spread it and environmental factors to make it potent. On top, there is the psychology of fear caused by the disease. It emerges from rumors, news reports, Tweets and expert warnings.

The correct response to these dynamic, decentralized, emergent problems is to create dynamic, decentralized, emergent authorities: chains of local officials, state agencies, national governments and international bodies that are as flexible as the problem itself.

Swine flu isn’t only a health emergency. It’s a test for how we’re going to organize the 21st century. Subsidiarity works best.

Op-Ed Columnist - Globalism Goes Viral -

CoTweet Cohort - User Discussion Forum on Steroids

This looked pretty interesting.

This company called COTWEET ( twitter tool for companies) offered beta users access to its services. (I currently use . While beta services are not impressive, Cotweet also offered users the opportunity to join a “cohort”. (See below).

It looks like participants in the cohort are going to be facilitated through a discussion of the product, and product use on a regular basis so that they can provide each other with tips and tricks. The company learns as the customers learn. Cotweet gets credit for connecting their users into a peer-to-peer network and taking advantage of the energy around twitter.

I can’t imagine a similar model working in all products (TurboTax cohort anyone?) .  But when there is a pent-up demand and new “open ground” no experts or right or wrong answers (such as in the social marketing space)  this cohort idea seems like it's going to be an effective additional customer service.

I have signed up to be a part of a cohort so that I can better understand Jerry's methodology. I also want to see how different our experiences in the nonprofit sector, compared to some of these big corporate clients. 

The CoTweet Cohort allows participants to share knowledge, experiences and ideas about the effective use of social media among themselves through bi-monthly conference calls and an online forum for ongoing communications.  The cohort will also provide ideas for future development of the CoTweet platform.

The CoTweet Cohort will be facilitated by Jerry Michalski, a highly respected technology consultant. Based in San Francisco, Michalski is a member of CoTweet’s Advisory board.

According to Jerry, “Twitter offers companies a brand new way to connect that’s not as expensive as a call center, as indirect as a blog or as opaque to the world as CRM systems are. Tweets happen in public. But as traffic increases, employees can step on one another’s toes, confusing customers. CoTweet is designed to prevent that, creating a smooth experience on both sides. This Cohort is where we’ll fine-tune that process.”

In theory, I would love to organize a customer-service cohort around Green Media Toolshed or the work that we do with any of our other campaigns or clients. 

Would GMT’s communications people join a cohort on pitching bloggers? Or reaching out to journalists?

CoTweet — How business does Twitter



Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Ode Magazine : Microjustice: Helping those who are excluded from the legal system

This is another absolutely beautiful example of networks connecting. I love the ideas of Microfinance, now morphing into a microjustice movement.

They share big but not insurmountable upfront costs. They share connections with others (via the micro program to others that solving the problem is trivial. They share a capacity to have the beneficiary monitored cheaply  ( via the internet) and repay the investment over time based on success.

What else can we expect to see….Microteaching, microhealthcare,  micromovement building, microvolunteering, microcopyediting, microinternet development, microjobplacement… 


Really brilliant…

When she started Microjustice Bolivia, Van Nispen tot Sevenaer worked with Anne Marie van Swinderen, a microfinance consultant with Triodos Facet, a large microfinance organization associated with Triodos Bank, an ethical financial institution based in the Netherlands. “The similarity between microjustice and microfinance is largely a way of thinking,” Van Swinderen says, “to not look at poor people as victims. Just to be very businesslike serves them much better than to always treat them like poor people who need support. Almost all development programs create a dependency that is not so desirable.”

The Microjustice Initiative may still be small but its approach reflects a big change in the way non-governmental organizations think about poverty, law and development. In the past, policymakers tried to improve legal systems in developing nations by working with national governments on court reform. Now, many say it’s also necessary to empower people directly at the grassroots level. Even the UN is taking note. In 2005, it hosted the Commission for the Legal Empowerment of the Poor, which found that more than 4 billion people live outside the legal framework of the modern state. Without effective legal protection, these people are vulnerable to losing their property, small businesses or income from labor, and remaining trapped in poverty. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is sponsoring microjustice-like projects in 10 countries to address the legal needs of the poor.

Ode Magazine : Microjustice: Helping those who are excluded from the legal system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Working Over the Results

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


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

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, 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, 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

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 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( and keep with a timeline on the top of a local political page (then have a blog and commenting under it)  or a word ( see the workds around the work environment and the legislators talking about it in a block of time.
  • ability to search phrases. 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 ( (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

The Agitator – Screening Process for Evangelist : Social Market

This post got me thinking….

How Find Your Missionaries | The Agitator - Fundraising, Direct Marketing and Advocacy Strategies for Nonprofits

How do I find out which of my missionary prospects has the "right stuff"? Until we have a scoring model that can pre-identfy these folks in a donor file (something our partner DonorTrends is working on) I guess there’s no substitute … I have to ask or "test" them!

So, I’d come up with a simple missionary request for my prospects (actually, a few requests over time to really probe my prospect pool) … something that involved outreach — such as passing along a message or sending in a prospect name. The donors who responded would be my missionaries. …I’d then attempt to "graduate" them to some explicit donor-to-friend fundraising promotion. I’d conduct as much of this program online as possible, using the latest viral marketing and social networking tools. And I’d create a recognition program to keep my missionaries motivated.

This is good but I think most groups are missing the deep outreach to new members.  The people likely to be “missionaries” are the “sneezers”  which has more to do with the rank in a social group, the topic area and personality type.  In “grapevine” there was talk that it is the new members that are your most likely evangelist.  They just “found you” and eager to tell friends of the “new experience”.    Social marketing is not about donors and loyalty.  It is about buzz. i don’t think the process outlined really gets at the evagelism you seek.

I would start mining the data of new people that arrive.  Focus on the tools and behavior that the new people engage in and and make sure they have the tools they need to “invite” friedns and keep confident that connecting with your cause or group was a great idea.  

Focus on launching services to as existing base and see how they pick up and open issues and then see if i could get them to perform.   I would focus more resources on the “new customers” that are just coming to you for whatever reason and understand why your group is attractive in the current context.   Getting old members that joined 5 years ago to give you a few nnames is fine but I don’t think it is going to be the approach that will give you the best ROI. Tags: ,,
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.






HubSpot on World Wide Raves

These are good.  It actually has many of the 7 elements of network capcacity with a bit differenet language.  Build Strong social Ties = "Put Down Roots", Shared Resources = "create something interesting" ...etc

I would add a few more.

  1. Build a Peer-to-Peer nature into the DNA of what you are going.  As trends scale they need to scale in a way that enables the network of participants to self-serve. This encourages leadership and communication.
  2. Work to "Lose Control" but establish simple rules of vision and language. The "control" is in the process not the content.
  3. Show Feedback (so the activity becomes self-directing).

 Internet Marketing Blog.

Rules of the Rave:

  1. Nobody cares about your products (except you).
  2. Create something interesting that will be talked about online. 
  3. No coercion required.
  4. Lose control.
  5. Put down roots. 
  6. Create triggers that encourage people to share.
  7. Point the world to your (virtual) doorstep. 

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, 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 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

Notes inspired by Harold Katzmir (FAS)

I was recently in an amazing session/discussion with Harold Katzmir of FAS research. Harold a started talking about his experience and some of the network theory around "energy" that he has been developing. At one point, he summarized work in one slide where he said to "save a network" you can:

  1. increase the flow
  2. decrease the complexity
  3. increase the networks ability to do aggregation.


It is great to look at these three things that need to be done. We can think about ways to increase the flows in the advocacy networks. We can spell out a series of ways to decrease the complexity in our networks. And, we can find ways to increase the aggregation power of our advocacy networks.


We have to think about what are the things that flow in an advocacy network. Flows could be money, trust, data, information, reputation, intellectual property, media and multimedia assets, opportunity or vision, energy, time and skills. Those are the good things that flow in the network I would assume that the opposite of those would also flow across the network including hatred, debt, lies, confusion, etc.


If we are working to "save the network" and we can not put more money into the network, we can put other flows in like information, trust, reputation, intellectual property, the vision, energy, time, and skills. It is these flows that will sustain our networks through the economic crisis.


The second part of his challenge is to look at the things that would decrease complexity. In the network-centric advocacy model, we generally talk about elements of feedback, leadership, shared vision, shared language, better communications channels and resource sharing. The building of each of the elements make a network function. Each serves to decrease the complexity because the rules, the language, the throughput and outcomes, the words and the pathways through the network, become clearer to everyone.


Decreasing complexity and increasing aggregation, are directly related to the ability to streamline and organize. If we want to increase aggregation, then we have to have feedback mechanisms to allow the participants in the network to see each other's transactions and activities, we have to have a capacity to harvest resources across the network. We have to have the ability to synchronize intellectual property, synchronize time contributions, synchronize money, and synchronize vision.


Much of the work in the coaching and the training and network design that we view as around finding new flows, streamlining network complexity, and aggregating network power.


I really enjoy anytime I get to spend with Harold and his team. The theory behind his work is brilliant. (Check out an FAS presentation)

The Network Changes Everything..

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


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


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


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

this is not philanthropy, but is it is service: reaLLy?

Why does the volunteer organizing space fragment?  There is almost no benefit to the volunteer or the organizations posting the volunteer activities that this space does not syndicate both volunteer interests and could work that needs to be done.

Hopefully, these college campuses know about volunteermatch and the network that they are building.

Dan Nadler, vice president for student affairs, said Fisher has done a great job of gathering information through interaction with the campus and the community. "Part of the reward is being able to react with other people,"

Nadler said. He said, when he asks students why they do not volunteer, they usually respond with they do not know where to go or who to speak with.

That is why he is excited for this office. Nadler wants students to have the desire to volunteer and to continue volunteering after graduating. "My hope is that they have that desire and actively participate in volunteer programs so that they give back to the community," Nadler said.

Part of what the office does is keep track of how many service hours are taking place by students. In order to do this, the office has launched a Web site where a student can search for volunteer opportunities that they can engage in today and log hours individually or as a group. "I think it's beneficial because it offers easy access to what and where service is needed," Fisher said.

"We are on the right track and now that the Web site is up, students can share their experiences with the service that will be a nice step and to track the hours to find out these details." Every month, the office has special projects they work on, but they update a mailing list every week that tells people special service events taking place that week. ....

Doris Guevara-Nordin, director of the Student Volunteer Center, also works with Fisher. "It has been great with the projects we have done together," she said. "The SVC programs are always open to everybody to participate." Fisher helped Guevara-Nordin bring more students to help volunteer on their weekly nursing home visits.

Students that come into Fisher's office sometimes tell her they don't have time. To help with that problem, Fisher has found a way students can help from their room through the Web. "Sometimes schedules get busy and they need volunteers at times you can't go to," Fisher said. "There (are) virtual opportunities where you can offer service to people in other countries on the web." This is something new for the university and the center-students can go to the Student Volunteer Center Web site and click on Virtual Volunteer Opportunities.

Fisher said this is not philanthropy, but is it is service. "We hope to expand this opportunity, and keep expanding it," Fisher said. "With the power to the Web and since all the residence halls have it, why not?"

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?

Flu: Data and Feedback Loops

Here is a really interesting way that transactional data shows other trends. Searching beats CDC.

Flu Trends, as the product is called, tracks the number of searches by Google's users for flu-related terms like "thermometer" and "cold remedies." A spike in the number of such queries may indicate a flu outbreak in a particular state as people try to find information about their illness. Last year, a test showed that Google's tool highlighted flu outbreaks about two weeks faster than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's tracking, which relies on reports from local hospitals and state health departments. Getting a quicker heads-up may allow officials to ensure that there are enough vaccines on hand in a particular area and to warn residents to get their flu shots. "The sooner we have indication that flu is in a community, the earlier public health officials can take action," said Glen Nowak, a CDC spokesman. Google unveiled the product at the start of the flu season, which, according to its data, doesn't seem to have yet had much of an impact on California. Most people who catch the illness recover without much trouble, but it nevertheless manages to kill up to half a million people worldwide annually.

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. and

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: is an alternative interface to the federal government's 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.

Benkler on TED

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flocks and movements

I was just reading some interesting information about agent-based modeling. They look at flocks. They are working on how to get computer animated icons to behave like a flock. The interesting thing is that there are three rules that drive the behavior and the way a flock of birds moves:

1. All birds try and fly towards the center.

2. All birds try and avoid collision with other birds.

3. That they match the speed of all other birds.

Using these three simple rules, you're able to set up models where they can completely mimic the flock.

The question is whether or not, given the way Foundation world funds at the center if they create a flock mentality by default.

Does lack of funding innovation push movements to move away from the edge? Does lack of funding at the edges drive us toward center? Does membership, brand and media strategy make groups avoid overlap "avoid collision"? Due to political realities and pack lobbing keep groups prevent groups from to stepping too far in front of their other allies (matching "the speed or progress" of the movement)?

Most groups want to be at the center because that's where most of the money and protection is. Given these three dynamics, we see much of the movement behave like a flock of birds. They move in unwieldy directions.

They move, as a mindless group, swarming with each other around. It can be beautiful in birds but it a shame that social change and groups of progress are not using a more effective method for organizing. (I'll look at the hive, swarm and ant hill models soon)

Who is the Peregrin our groups are all afraid of?

Work for me? I am picking up entry level staff and interns.

If you tune in here often (the 86+ of you), you might find this job really fun and interesting.

We have been picking up quite a bit of work in line with training people on the concepts of network-centric advocacy and we are providing partners with direct support, online training and strategy services. I am looking to grow this part of my work at Green Media Toolshed over the next few years.

Hopefully, in the next few months I can bring on a few people interested in this work, train them and work with them over the next several years to build the Netcentric Campaigns Division of Green Media Toolshed. I am looking for great staff that want to get into the real work of networking the movement. Please check out the job and pass it on to friends that are interested in a great job in DC.

Network Advocacy Coordinator

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' -

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.

Distributed Research: needs 43 phone calls to track Hill staff

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

Where Are They Now? Staffers Needing Verification

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

The Machine is US... Movement Organizer Inspiration

The movement is a platform. New organizers need to think about the way to work the machine. How has strategy changed? How are we really thinking of ways off line and online to empower the machine of progress? What have you been rethinking? How does your audience work with you? How does a group of 7 people work differently? What does it mean to break a culture of scarcity and break the limits of organizational units that lobby for progressive social change? How do campaigners and organizers dream big in this new culture?

Great riff by the producer of the video here....

For me, cultural anthropology is a continuous exercise in expanding my mind and my empathy, building primarily from one simple principle: everything is connected. This is true on many levels. First, everything including the environment, technology, economy, social structure, politics, religion, art and more are all interconnected. As I tried to illustrate in the video, this means that a change in one area (such as the way we communicate) can have a profound effect on everything else, including family, love, and our sense of being itself. Second, everything is connected throughout all time, and so as anthropologists we take a very broad view of human history, looking thousands or even millions of years into the past and into the future as well. And finally, all people on the planet are connected. This has always been true environmentally because we share the same planet. Today it is even more true with increasing economic and media globalization.

My friends in Papua New Guinea are experts in relationships and grasp the ways that we are all connected in much more profound ways than we do. They go so far as to suggest that their own health is dependent on strong relations with others. When they get sick they carefully examine their relations with others and try to heal those relations in order to heal their bodies.
In contrast, we tend to emphasize our independence and individuality, failing to realize just how interconnected we are with each other and the rest of the world, and disregarding the health of our relationships with others. This became clear to me when I saw a small boy in a Papua New Guinea village wearing a torn and tattered University of Nebraska sweatshirt, the only item of clothing he owned. The grim reality for me at that moment was that the same village was producing coffee which eventually found its way onto shelves in my hometown in Nebraska, and this boy may never be able to afford to drink the coffee produced in his own village.

So if there is a global village, it is not a very equitable one, and if there is a tragedy of our times, it may be that we are all interconnected but we fail to see it and take care of our relationships with others. For me, the ultimate promise of digital technology is that it might enable us to truly see one another once again and all the ways we are interconnected. It might help us create a truly global view that can spark the kind of empathy we need to create a better world for all of humankind. I’m not being overly utopian and naively saying that the Web will make this happen. In fact, if we don’t understand our digital technology and its effects, it can actually make humans and human needs even more invisible than ever before. But the technology also creates a remarkable opportunity for us to make a profound difference in the world.

Harnessing the Power of informal campaign and political networks.

Worknets, social networks and campaign or issue networks all need infrastructure elements that support cohesion, animation and management.

This article is good but it draws some false lines around the difference between organic networks (people like) and managed networks (business like). Additionally, there is not a recognition that the reasons networks form is often to end-run official channels and breakout of defined work groups for ideas, resources and innovation. People vote with their feet and move away from any network that has the wrong balance between investment needed to stay "in" and the value the network provides.

These networks succeeded because the company formed them around focused topics closely related to the way work was carried out at the wells. Management also appointed the networks’ leaders, gave the members training, carefully identified the members of each network across the geographically dispersed company, made technology investments, and sponsored a knowledge-sharing team that collected and disseminated best practices.2


Companies need to build infrastructures to create and support formal networks. Such well-designed and well-supported formal networks remove bottlenecks and take much of the effort out of networking. Rather than forcing employees to go up and down hierarchical chains of command, formal networks create pathways for the natural exchange of information and knowledge. Individual members of networks don’t have to find one another through serendipity.

The challenge for campaigns of 10-500-50,000,000 people is to actually feel out the network health and then choose from the many interventions that create self-sustaining, self-healing, self-directed capacity for cohesion, animation and management.

Those functions are served by a mix of :
cohesion -> social ties, communications grid, common language
animation -> shared story, strong social ties, clarity of purpose and shared resources
management -> network leaders, feedback

Advocacy campaigns and social change efforts need to focus on network capacity of a fractured movement if we are ever going to realize the benefits of our distributed size and strength.

Google Presentations: Tell a Story Together: Network Presentations

I am really big into presentations. I like to use them to communicate and interact with an audience. I think many of the presentations nonprofit groups and campaign do stink. I am a huge fan of Andy Goodman and Edward Tufte.

It seemed like the space had not yet really hit any new developments since powerpoint came along. I think most the bullet talk with powerpoint is not really a good thing anyway. However, slides with photos and images to accompany a good story, along with extensive handouts can not be beat as a way to communicate a messages and ideas.

Now Google has launched Google Presentations. Work on them together. Share them with others present them online. VERY COOL. It will change my work.

To start one go to google documents and hit NEW -> PRESENTATION... and you are on your way. Lets see if I can start posting some more of my presentation materials on the blog.

zooleo - Home

This looks cool. I look forward to playing with a demo account to see if we can use it witht he communities we work with to tease out some common story and clarity of purpose from the bottom up.

Link: zooleo - Home.

ngage Your Audience Users Seek Greater Involvement and Voice At zooleo, we aim to help you better engage and discover what is most important to your audience or group through simple, easy-to-use tools. With our state-of-the-art embeddable technologies, it has never been easier to add "audience engagement" to any online platform.

Moving beyond centralized vs decentralized

THis is interesting. I have seen riifs on it before and often think of the "simple rules create complex behavior" that Steven Johnson wrote about. It is also in the models you can play with on Netlogo.

Maybe the movements need more "simple rules" or mix up the simple rules that guide the movement today. What are the rules that shape advocacy and social change efforts today? What should they be to encourage faster emergence?

Link: elearnspace.

Eric Beinhocker tackled the impact of complex behavioural outcomes through swarm-based behaviour in Origin of Wealth (a book that has received far less attention than it deserves). It would appear that functioning in truly complex spaces moves us beyond centralized vs. decentralized debates, and puts us instead in a philosophy of simple rules, local activity, and high levels of connections/contact. The most overwhelming problems can be attended to with this simple model. The solution is not something we work on directly...instead it emerges when we attend to the individual elements.

A Small Circle Of Friends -

There are some great to-do's to tease out of the article from Forbes. How is your advocacy network evolving in a self-help way.

1. DO you let your online discussions range over many issues and help people connect on more than just one political issue. Do you encourage members to connect on personal level (EVEN though everyone remains connected for a specific reason.) Connecting on different levels does not change the reason for participating in the network it only strengthes the connection.

2. How open is your network? How does it grow? who is responsible for network operations and network health? Who is responsible for creating bridge ties within your network and to outside networks? How are you learning from the new people? what is the use of connecting to the distant ties if you are not learning from them?

3. How do you find the "bliss point" in organizing. Are you open enough to bring in new ideas and closed enough to foster trust? How will you know? Is there an introduction process? Is there a qualifying process? Do you need a long-term group or just a rapid series of short lived networks? How does that change vetting process?

4. How is the network managing persistent reputation and identiy? How is the network leveraging the "self-help" instinct and peer pressure? How are people joining to help themselves not help you? What value do they get beside "be a part of your campaign" ?

The killer quote..building in sustainablity to your lon-term network has to include value and personal ties.


Short of mafia-style enforcement, most self-help groups have to rely on self-interest, broadly construed, to maintain their members' interest. Those that survive over the long term usually do so not because of their practical advantages, though those may be considerable, but because of the friendships they create. "What keeps people in more than they anticipated is essentially the ties that are formed," says Zuckerman. Groups like Business Networks may be "selling essentially hard-nosed business considerations--you're going to go in, and you're going to increase your bottom line." But once members have gotten those initial benefits, they stick around because, in Cunningham's words, they've become "best buds for life.""

Link: A Small Circle Of Friends -

While self-help networks differ widely, they all face similar issues: How exclusive or open can the group be and still achieve its goals? How can it sustain participation over time? Who will take responsibility for maintaining group activities? And how focused on its instrumental purpose, as opposed to social connections or other concerns, should the network be?

To social scientists, a network (self-help or otherwise) usually implies a system that includes both subgroups in which everyone knows everyone else and "bridging ties," where an individual is connected to others outside those smaller circles. In an influential 1973 article, "The Strength of Weak Ties," sociologist Mark Granovetter, now a professor at Stanford, demonstrated that while job hunters use social connections to find work, they don't use close friends. Rather, survey respondents said they found jobs through acquaintances--old college friends, former colleagues, people they saw only occasionally or just happened to run into at the right moment. New information, about jobs or anything else, rarely comes from your close friends because they tend to know the same things and people you do. One reason online forums are so valuable to participants like Franks is that they connect lots of people who wouldn't otherwise know one another.

Bridging ties keep a network from becoming a clique, but they can't build the trust and deep knowledge essential to many self-help efforts. The most effective networks reach a sort of "bliss point." They're open enough to bring in new ideas and closed enough to foster trust and intimate knowledge. "You actually need some of that cliquey-ness," says Brian Uzzi, an economic sociologist at the Kellogg (nyse: K - news - people ) School of Management.

If it becomes too open, a self-help network can disintegrate. Through the 1990s Stephen B. Garner, a Portland, Ore. marketing consultant, served as the volunteer coordinator for a business network called Resource Focus Group. Once a month members met for breakfast to hear a presentation by a company facing a strategic issue, such as how to penetrate a new market or whether to sell the business. Members asked questions and discussed how the company should proceed. Once a year presenters reported on what had happened since their meetings. By bringing in outside presenters, the group ensured a constant flow of new information. "It was really just a great learning experience with some very intelligent people," says Garner. Members could also propose new members, subject to a vote by the group.

When Garner moved to Spain for a year, however, his successor took a more laissez-faire approach, making the group less exclusive. "People would just show up, and they'd be new members. There'd be no introduction. There'd be no qualification," says Garner. As meetings became more impersonal and less fun, longtime members started drifting away. The group eventually dissolved.

To remain useful, self-help networks have to police their members, whether that means removing spam from the Living Donors Online message boards or screening members. That often requires an informal coordinator like Garner who not only organizes network activities and enforces the rules but stakes his own reputation on picking the right members.

In her new book, Survival of the Knitted: Immigrant Social Networks in a Stratified World (Stanford University Press, 2007), Rutgers sociologist Vilna Francine Bashi examines the networks that bring West Indian immigrants to New York and London and help them find jobs and housing. These networks depend on people Bashi refers to as "hubs," usually pioneer immigrants with strong ties to their homelands. Hubs decide whom to bring over, put the new migrants up in their homes until they've saved enough money for their own apartments and refer them to jobs. They are selective as, person by person, they build a new community. Bashi asked one woman how she decided which of her two sisters to send for: "She explained, 'You send for the one you like best.'"

Build it into the political and advocacy constituency. Use online and onland activities to support it and ultimately you are creating a mush more powerful and robust grassroots.

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. 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

Connection Matters: Spreading a message vs. Spreading a frame.

I have been working for a while on the idea that a message moves through a culture not only because it is a good message or perfect frame BUT ALSO because the base is connected. Network-centric advocacy rests to some degree on the idea that connectivity is essential for swarming, mobilizing, fighting message control and dominating public debate. It is essential that message and advocaacy efforts are formated so they can "move" from listserves to cell phones.

Here is the example that helps to demonstrate the power of connecctivity. If you think of messages much like fire ..even the perfect message (ie. i tell you you tell the other you know with perfect clarity, they tell others) connectivity matters.

Here is a screencast (my first) of a Netlogo demonstration of fire spreading in a forest. I work over the density of the forest and run the program a few times. You can see that there is a point of connectivity (density is that idea that trees are touching or connected) is between 59% and 61%. The connective change is the key to lighting a majority or having a campaign that flames out.

Harold Katzmir from FAS research showed me this program.

Questions for Campaign Staff ? Role of the Network ?

Network Questions for RootsCampers:

1. What role did social ties play in your campaign? Did information, strategy or advise from friends alter your strategy? How much did you trust people working in the same region as you (did you know and trust the people in the 527, democratic coordinated efforts, or other similar BUT uncoordinated efforts?) Did you develop "social relations or trust" with loggers or other content providers who you never really worked with in face to face contexts?

2. How did you stay in sync with the common story of the election? How did you track the story "landscape"? Did you read CAP? Democracy Corps? or other shared political and message framing content and publications? Did you look at thee for framing talking points and other appeals? How many other candidates email lists were you subscribed to? Did you read any blogs that helped shape message or story? How did you try to build off messages in the wild and connect them to you campaign(Foley, Iraq, Scandals, etc) ?

3. How healthy was your communications grid to people outside the campaign? What email lists were you on? Who's polling infraction idid you get copies of? Where you on IM and Skype with folks from across the movement? Did that help you stay in touch with trends, braking stories, opposition tactics? Internally in the campaign how well did different offices coordinate?

4. How much were you willing to work with information and resources that were "not yours" did you use shared resources? Did you post YouTube clips on your site? Did you work with open source software? Did you access data warehouse materials? Did you use Flickr? Did you clip and run with talking points or research findings from others? Did you use googlemaps? Did you use yahoo groups or meetup? Did you rely on other people's pools of volunteers? or volunteer coordination from outside groups? Did you pass on others flash ads? or voter information? What shared resources of the movement were useful?

5. Clarity of Purpose? Did leaders form within you ranks and network help you define positions? Where there campaigns or efforts that were clearly self-organized by network leaders? Where these useful? Where they a distraction? Did you assign people to manage and lead networks or participate in online forums and high traffic sites on your campaigns teams response?

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.