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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Pushing_Power_to_the_Edges_05-06-05.pdf

Draft: Lessons from the Election and Vultures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bunch of Vultures

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

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

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

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

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

What were the lessons?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

A Bear Votes

In one of the better examples of recycle, reuse ...A Bear Votes! ...Thanks to Rob Stuart and all the folks that worked on the the original. Thanks to Savetheenvironment.org and Getactive for the recast

Now digitially remastered for highdef elections. A Bear Votes!


In the future should post the code so it can be embedded on lots of sites. They should remove the text so others can remix it. Can some one screencast and youtube it for future elections before the Bear disappears again....

Make sure you vote on Tuesday! Do it for the Bears.

Culture Jam: Politics Cleanup: Ads Mashup :Chevy Tahoe Ad Machine: All Cool

I love it.... Time to make more movies and ads. Please post your links. Lets see what folks can do.

Vote for mine...

Review a few...

Make your own...

Act... http://www.sunlightnetwork.com/punchclock_agreement

Flashback to the Chevy Rants

BlogTalkRadio: Internet Radio for the Membership

Here is a little new site that packs the phone interview and the podcast into a nice little service. It creates the opportunity for bottom up talk radio targeting those that have Internet connections or listen to podcast.

This will have some applications for the groups that can draw an audience with big names and a good email list. If you check it out please let me know. .. I listened to a few and the basic technology seems to work.

It would be cool if enough funny and creative people could create a site of feeds that ran pretty consistently with the same numbers and lots of different programs. The groups could then cross-promte the talk radio to the audiences on their membership list and use it as an alternative channel for an election cycle or campaign.

Who knows? A netcentric podcast may be in my future....it would definitely need to be a call in show.

Link: BlogTalkRadio.

Your BlogShow lets you host your own talk show online. Receive live callers, interview guests, and broadcast to an unlimited number of listeners. All you need is any type of phone, an internet connection, and something to say. All your listeners need is streaming audio or any type of phone should they choose to call in

BookCrossing - The World's Biggest Free Book Club - Catch and Release Used Books:

Network based book service. Decentralized book sharing via public places.

What are the factors that make this work?

1. Excess product with low cash value.
2. High degree of fun enjoying "free" stuff released by others.
3. Easy coordination via the Internet.
4. People are basically good.

How can we apply this to similar community based challenges with physical items? Metro cards or small change (take a penny leacve a penny). Campaign literature? Advocacy, lobbying talking points, disposable digital cameras? near state capitals or big organizing events.

"Take one - leave one" boxes in the city, on the ferry, on the train? gift wrapping paper on the way into and leaving airports......

Link: BookCrossing - The World's Biggest Free Book Club - Catch and Release Used Books.

You've come to a friendly place, and we welcome you to our book-lovers' community. Our members love books enough to let them go — into the wild — to be found by others. Sharing your used books has never been more exciting, more serendipitous, than with BookCrossing. Our goal, simply, is to make the whole world a library. BookCrossing is a free online book club of infinite proportion, the first and only of its kind. Inside, you'll find millions of book reviews and hundreds of thousands of passionate readers just like you. Let's get right down to it. You know the feeling you get after reading a book that speaks to you, that touches your life, a feeling that you want to share it with someone else? BookCrossing.com gives you a simple way to share books with the world, and follow their paths forever! The "3 Rs" of BookCrossing... Read a good book (you already know how to do that) Register it here (along with your journal comments), get a unique BCID (BookCrossing ID number), and label the book Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, "forget" it in a coffee shop, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone comes here and records a journal entry for that book. And if you make Release Notes


This was a really good explanation of "MASHUP" and the trend to let others hook data into each other and create their own product from your output.

Link: Outside Innovation: WHY “MASH UPS” MATTER.

The term mash up came from the field of music. A musical mash up is a remix of two or more songs into a new piece of music. A Web mash up is a new application that is created by pulling together two or more complementary Web-based applications and/or data sources; for example, mapping a database of known child-molesters onto a map. Every time a new person is added (or removed) from the child molester database, their location is automatically added or removed from the map.

Why should advocacy groups care?

1. Big business are starting to leave hooks out there for us to use. (Google Map) voter walking, pollution and activists lists .

2. People are building their own mashups and may only want one stream of your regular output (they don't want to pass on your entire newsletter to their users but they might pass along a feed of local river conditions, volunteer actions, etc.

Seeking Stories about MobileActive Campaigns!

Mobileactive_ad Help. I am wokring on a project with our team at MobileActive to find examples and case studies of activists that make use of mobile phones in campaigns and organizing.

We're trying to track down campaigns using mobile phones for awareness building, voter registration, civic participation, event mobilization, fundraising and more. We are interested in learning about campaigns in any part of the world. As many of you know, we are currently tracking already many campaigns here and on our list.

Our goal is to compile an up-to-date set of "strategy memos" that showcase past successes and encourage new campaigns to use mobile phones as part of their civil society efforts.

Resources like these:
1. Stategy Guide to Using Mobile Phones in Civic Campaigns
2. GutterTech Guide to SMS: How To Employ a Zero to Low-Cost Trans-national SMS Strategy
3. Primer on Bulk SMS Messaging
4. Security Guide for Mobile Activists: Checklist and Tips

If you are involved in or are aware of any campaigns using mobile phones, please send us a note to info [at] mobileactive [dot] org and we will be in touch with you to learn more.

The MobileActive Strategy Memos are supported by the Surdna Foundation. MobileActive thanks Surdna and Vince Stehle for their support of this project.

We can always use help to continue the work so also please let us know if you can be helpful.

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

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

>> From: Chairman Ken Mehlman

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

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


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

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

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

>> personalized grassroots goals. The new activist network will

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


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

>> will receive a special thank you.


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

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

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

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

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

>> voters.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

>> Computer, maker of the iPod Video.

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

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

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

Daily Kos: Chevy Ad.

Chevy... SUV's Getting Roasted...(Head in the Sand)

Step 1. Review the ads (some funny, some political).

Step 2. Make your Own (link is to the right bottom of any ad.)

Step 3. Post the link to the Ad in the comments. (from address bar)so we can save this.)

Step 4. Pick the date Chevy folds and takes down the site. (I give them 2 weeks)

My favorites:
Funny Chevy Ad - Oil

Chevy Ad - Tribute to brother in Iraq

Funny Chevy Ad - Who is that

Funny Chevy Ad - Little Piggy

Funny Chevy Ad - Hippy

Funny Chevy Ad - Impeach

Funny Chevy Ad - What?

Funny Chevy Ad - Yo.

Funny Chevy Ad - Hot hot

Link: Daily Kos: State of the Nation.

Check Out This Fake Ad Before Chevy Takes it Off

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

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

Link: Work with us | Netcentric Campaigns.

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

You MUST try This: Culture Jam Chevy and Global Warming: Sloganator II


This is a BLAST. (Thanks Noah.) Chevy and the Apprentice set up a tool to create commercials for SUVs. They want you to create ads for their crappy products. It is a good idea but I don't think folks should be saving Chevy ad money.

These machines are driving us all to the edge on global warming. We are more dependent on oil and we are less safe. The owners try to "be cool" but are really like sheep manipulated by advertising and GM. Ride your SUV in traffic...what a waste.

Please make a funny ad and put a link in the comments... or send me your link via email. The network can take down this ad. Help people connect the dots between SUVs and global warming. Go get them.

Chevy Ads can be fun.

Someone please record these too.

My ad

My second ad

Chris Lundberg ad







Who Loves Flowers?

MobileActive: Witness Humanity via the Cell Phone

I have blogged on the ideas of mobileactive reporting before ranging from the use of phones to catch police abuse in Seattle to students capturing teachers abusing students, to using phones to inspire others to join them at a rally. We need to work out the strategies and technologies whereas the connected world becomes a tool of the masses not merely a wired world monitored by the state and centralized authorities.

Link: WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Earth Witness.

I've long admired the Witness project, which provides video cameras to human rights activists around the world in order to document violations and abuses. I was particularly happy to see the recent news that Witness plans to open up a web portal to enable users of digital cameras and cameraphones to send in their recordings over the Internet, rather than just as hand-carried videotape. While thinking about that development, however, it occurred to me that a similar model might work well for a "second superpower" army of networked environmentalists: imagine a web portal collecting recordings and evidence of ecological problems (human-caused or otherwise), environmental crimes, and significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It would be, in essence, an "Earth Witness" project.

Listible! - Group Priority Tool for Campains and Shared Task

I set up a list for online strategy and tools related to advocacy and political organizing.

Ahhh. I have been waiting for something like this.

1. Anyone can add things to be done for a campaign. (tasks time, description etc)
2. People can rank value of tasks and help sort and tag items.

Now I want to see
3. Checkedout by (username with contact) on date.
4. Checked in as completed by on date.
5. Needing confirm as successfully completed from second party.
6. double checked.

Doing this in AJAX seems more and more friendly.

Link: Listible!�-�About.

Voting cannot be the only answer for relevancy. Even though the most popular resources are on the top, if the system does not have a way to differentiate varies topics, you still wouldn't find any resources easily.

Listing combined with tagging and voting gives you a greater relevancy. Finding a list called "Resources related to IE browser CSS bugs" tagged with css is easier. In each list, community can provide any relevant URLs. The most relevant and popular resource will be sorted on the top, thanks to the voting system. Is this resource listible? If it is, then you are sharing the resources to the right person. This is listible all about.

There are so many different ways you can use the listible system. The sky is the only limit here.

I set up a list for online strategy and tools related to advocacy and political organizing.

Google Video for Nonprofits: Developing multi-media on the cheaps...

So.. Google Video has an embed function and an upload program for all of the nonprofits that have been wanting multi-media on your web sites. Is there a documentary that tells your story or inspires your supporters. Consider playing with Google video to place it on your site.

I am looking for one of my network-centric advocacy recorded talks to plop into Google Video. I'll let you know how it goes. ( I am hope to post something like this.

Link: About Google Video.

You've found the world's first open online video marketplace, where you can search for, watch and even buy an ever-growing collection of TV shows, movies, music videos, documentaries, personal productions and more. Just type in your search term (try ipod or Charlie Rose) or do a more advanced search (try title:CSI) and we'll search our archive for relevant results. You can watch brief previews by clicking the "play" icon () in the image thumbnail. Clicking on a thumbnail image will take you to a playback page, where you can watch the preview or, for free content, the video itself. In addition to viewing free content, you can also purchase or rent premium content at the Google Video store using your Google Account.

It is time to flip "don't call us we will call you" model of advocacy to a "call us when you care" strategy --> eNonprofit Benchmarks Study

Here is a new study by MRSS and the big boys of online donor tools and databases. This looks great. It is a real contribution to the field.

On a quick first read, I take away some very different messages from the conclusions they reach on page 50.

1. Stop collecting so much data on people. Email and ZIP -- Targeting doesn't matter much. You are just making everything harder on your web process. No matter what you do churn is 28% and issue and generic targeting produce almost identical results. Given the staff time you put into designing, buying and harassing folks. Smaller groups with list of under 10,000 a bump in 7% on page completions or 4% on actions it is not worth it. Plus when you take into account increases in drop off on sign up forms and privacy concerns I bet it is barely worth it for anyone to track more than zip. (page 17)

2. Open rates are not shown over number of communications... Is it fair to assume more messages went out? If yes ... maybe people on the list have only so many "opens" in them per year with more groups stuffing the inbox. So one strategy would be to send lots of messages to win the competition of opens against other groups... We are creating a tragedy of the commons with our support base.

3. The report focuses on Churn but I am not convinced it matters. The data doesn't look at if non churning people perform better or worse (again we don't really know from the data here because we don't have numbers of "asks or numbers of communications to the dataset? ) Did new people perform better or worse than old list people on each set of asks? We don't know so I am not convinced churn matters. In fact, many of the stories are about the campaigns or events that happen and everyone jumps on to the list , signs the petition, does the game etc. Are those people really joining the group? NO. They are hi churn (new people doing one task and then we harass 30-50% to go dead immediately (footnote on p19) or we convince 28% to leave annually.

The data presentation on page 30 is a problem. I can not tell if people who are on a list over time really perform better. The only thing offered is that people on the list for more than 3 years took 8.5 actions vs. 1.7 for the people on the list for less than a year or 3.2 for people between 1-2 years. It actually looks like people perform less well over time. These are the crazy supporters that have not been part of the 28% that leaves every year!

4. Web traffic is really important. Eyeballs, links and viral opportunities grow lists to create donations and actions. See comment above on all the new people you get from a good campaign and good exposure. Think of a good website as a banner ads and opt in space.

5. Connections matter (offer people Meetup opportunities) and a diversity of actions to complement online engagement. (read page 37!)

6. (Finally .I agree with them) Act Quickly to Respond to Timely Events.
The online community can connect to issues quickly. When the online world wants to help or can be "tipped" into action move to organize and channel that energy effectively. " This was made possible, in part, by reacting quickly to this emergency, to make information about relief efforts and donation opportunities available via organizational Web sites and to e-mail subscribers. All organizations
should have rapid response fundraising plans in place to move quickly in response to urgent events and give subscribers opportunities to donate online." (p.50) (this is a major benefit of network-centric strategy in advocacy context)

I would love to work with the data to see if it might be cheaper overall to recruit new people for each action then tell them to comeback next time they see your stuff rather then spending any money on all the database and customer relations. ( flipping "don't call us we will call you" model of advocacy on it's head to a "call us when you care. ") The total costs of ownership and maintenance are not calculated here nor did the firms talk about the ways the money was allocated (strategy, communications, advertising, tools, etc.)

It is a good paper and worth a read and debate.

Link: eNonprofit Benchmarks Study.

The eNonprofit Benchmarks Study is the first of its kind look at the effectiveness of major American nonprofit organizations using the Internet to raise money and influence public policy. The study is a tool that nonprofits can use to measure and compare their online performance to other organizations' online programs.

Distributed Research on Stardust Project - Public to look for dust grains in Stardust detectors

How do we find the dust? Ask the network.

Link: 01.10.2006 - Public to look for dust grains in Stardust detectors.

Astronomy buffs who jumped at the chance to use their home computers in the [email protected] search for intelligent life in the universe will soon be able to join an Internet-based search for dust grains originating from stars hundreds of thousands of light years away. In a new project called [email protected], University of California, Berkeley, researchers will invite Internet users to help them search for a few dozen submicroscopic grains of interstellar dust captured by NASA's Stardust spacecraft and due to return to Earth in January 2006. This aerogel array, which was mounted atop the Stardust spacecraft, was used to collect interstellar dust particles as well as dust from the tail of comet Wild 2.

Link: [email protected] - participation.

The only way that we can think of to find these exciting interstellar dust grains is to recruit talented volunteers to help us search. First, you will go through a web-based training session. This is not for everyone: you must pass a test to qualify to register to participate. After passing the test and registering, you will be able to download a virtual microscope (VM). The VM will automatically connect to our server and download so-called "focus movies" -- stacks of images that we will collect from the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector using an automated microscope at the Cosmic Dust Lab at Johnson Space Center. The VM will work on your computer, under your control. You will search each field for interstellar dust impacts by focusing up and down with a focus control. The more focus movies you examine, the better the chances are that you'll find an interstellar dust grain. But we have no minimum expectation -- you should search through focus movies as long as you're having fun doing it. Just remember that you are looking at the first collector that has gone into deep space and come back. This is a very special opportunity!

Presentation Tips: Tech and Communications Tips

I have often riffed on subjects raised by Andy Goodman and suggested participating in the survey and signing up for his newsletter. Andy has asked me to spread the word about the free copies of his new book for nonprofits. So I am always glad to help. It is really good stuff.

Link: Welcome to agoodmanonline.

Would you like to deliver more engaging, informative, and persuasive presentations? Do you supervise colleagues who must give presentations on a regular basis? If you have wasted enough time with bad presentations – on either side of the podium – there is a new book which you can order online today, and it’s free to full-time employees at nonprofits, foundations, government agencies, and educational institutions.

Based on unprecedented research across the public interest sector, and incorporating the advice of twenty highly regarded public speaking experts, Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes, can help you avoid the most commonly made mistakes (“The Fatal Five”), structure your information in ways that help audiences absorb it, use PowerPoint more effectively, and deliver your talks with greater confidence.

Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes was written by Andy Goodman and was designed and published by Cause Communications (the same team that created Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes.)

If you participated in the survey, or if you are a full-time employee at a nonprofit, foundation, government agency or educational institution, you can request one complimentary copy while supplies last. To place your order, please fill out the section below.

Note: Complimentary copies cannot be shipped to a home address, so please supply only business addresses.

My old posts on Andy:
* Sign up for his letter.
* participate in the survey
* a riff on his messenger story .

BuzzMachine: Who owns the wisdom of the crowd? The crowd.

Jeff nails the heart of new internet strategy and why it conflicts with old world activism and traditional politics. Our culture increasingly wants to "own" its activism and voice. Brands and campaigns need to adapt to the privacy gnereration and the ownership generation not by building more ways to harvest ownership and power but by increasingly amplifying the power of the citizen.

saving the environment is not our groups mission and you support us. Advocacy is taking a turn that saving the environment is your opion and we are here to serve you. (centralized vs. decentralized).

Link: BuzzMachine ? Blog Archive ? Who owns the wisdom of the crowd? The crowd..

On the individual level, I want to own or control my stuff, don’t you? That is a given that too many companies and institutions forget. Thus my first law of media and life: Give us control and we will use it. The corollary: Don’t give us control and you will lose us. So I want to control the things I create: my content (this blog); my identity (my addresses); my collections of neat things (my bookmarks); my analysis (my tags); my reputation (my eBay rating), my behavior (my history, my clicks). What does control mean? I want to be assured that somebody else can’t muck with or kill it. I want to be able to use it wherever I want — and that means I need it to be portable. I also want to control the things I consume: my content (obviously, I pick the sites, shows, words I take in); my advertising (I’d like transparent targeting… and so should advertisers, because it would be a helluva lot more effective). Other players may try to get in the way — keeping me from my stuff, or pushing me to this page instead of that, or showing me this ad because they get paid to do so — but, again, if I ruled my world, this is what I’d want. Less interference means less friction m

Sweet. Kudos to Identity Women

Nice Live8 Technology debrief by EchoDitto

This is a great review of the Live8 smartness. Many of the techniques highlighted are about giving people the opportunity to connect and synchronize the positive energy generated by the concert.

(1) Taking advantage of the traffic :: On the official Live8 site, you can "sign the Live8 list" for G8 leaders via SMS or online or upload your photo to be added to a wall of faces at the G8 -- no gallery yet?!. (Reminds me of the almost 2,500 photos submitted online at FightHunger.org!). Nice clear asks taking advantage of all available technology, coupled with some solid video and exclusive content.
(2) Technorati Tagging the Blog Buzz :: Technorati sponsored what may be the first global online tagging event, encouraging bloggers to tag their posts with "live8" so that they could be counted in the global online discussion, accompanied by a syndicated image. It's a clever corporate marketing effort for Technorati, the blog tracking service, and also an excellent great way to put a mirror on the buzz being generated. As of right now, there are 12,073 blog posts tagged with Live 8, and 50 bloggers were invited to go backstage.
(3) [secret?] Party Planning Guide from ONE :: Despite the lack of online promotion for these viewing parties, someone at ONE knows what they're doing when it comes to online organizing... Check out their excellent house party guide (PDF) -- includes feedback form, signup sheet, and good background material for hosts. It's impressive—bordering on dense—and happens to follow a general template that we developed for grassroots meetup organizers on the Dean campaign. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell from the One Blog if any of these Live 8 parties even took place... Here's to hoping!

(4) 2.9 million TV viewers -vs- 5 million web watchers :: AOL has a more global reach than ABC, but it's still an impressive statistic. Reuters reports, "ABC's two-hour highlights special from the Live 8 concerts drew just 2.9 million viewers Saturday, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research, far fewer than the 5 million users who logged on for AOL's free live video streaming coverage."

I would add the integration with Itunes to sell music (i think they sold a million copies of the Sgt. Pepper song?) , the SMS mess aging to show support (like a new wave of the old Jerry Lewis telethon) by the public. And effective play on the event drive timeline of the G8 summit (media savvy with a touch of political smarts).

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

This is worth thinking about:

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

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

LIVE 8 - What to do: The Long Walk to Justice

I have been very moved by the global connections made by the LIVE 8 work. The strategy being used is really taking the connected audiences into the event and cause in powerful ways. AOL has done an amazing job and the connections to iTunes web sites and actions is a really powerful experience for the online community. It is a shame the TV just can't do the scale of the event fair coverage. It is a turning point for advocacy strategy. I love the text message your name and think this is going to be a new powerful connection even at local events.

Be a part of the march.

As part of The Long Walk To Justice a huge photo-campaign - The G8 Gallery - will see hundreds of thousands of pictures posted along two miles of railings in Princes Street, Edinburgh. This visual statement will show that you and millions like you, want our leaders to use the power they have to end poverty - for good.
If you make it to Edinburgh on Wednesday 6th July you can attach the pictures of you, your friends and your family to the gallery yourself.
If you can't be in Edinburgh you can send us your pictures and we will attach them for you. Upload your image or text it to 0044 7774 777 444.

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

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

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

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

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

Pitching Blogs: Is there a difference between a PR hack and political or advocacy strategies?

Here is an interesting riff on the role the pitch, news and bloggers in the world of information flows. It is a very good read for all the political campaign hacks itching to build blog campaigns. It is also an effective overview of common communications campaign failures and a good discussion of the why (how) pitching is not conversation, relationships or engaging in a way that effectively targets the norms of blogs.

It is not surprising that folks are still feeling around int he dark on how to engage the blog world with campaigns. It is like early ads on radio, TV or the internet. People are still feeling out the limits of the channel. Applying one channels norms to another has always been a disaster. (Radio personalities did not convert to TV and TV stars are not the kings of the Internet.) Pitching or flacking for a campaign in this new world is different. The challenge is to figure out how to spread news and stories in the blog world (set up a circle of blogs, publish the story in lots of places, push it into lots of online places and then comment on it from a handful of blogs, encourage people to modify and distribute the stores that move your message, include private email pushes,etc.)

This is an interesting because it is targeted at corporate PR hacks but is a bit telling about the ideas that may leave wiggle room for advocacy and political conversations.

Some of the ‘A List’ bloggers command sizeable audiences and can justifiably claim to hold considerable sway in certain spheres of influence.

Technorati’s “attention index” ranks online news sources using a variant of Googlejuice (the more inbound links to a site, the higher the assessed authority). The top ranked news sources on Technorati – the ones most often pointed to by other writers in the blogosphere are, as one would expect, sites such as The New York Times, CNN, BBC News, and The Washington Post.

No big surprise here. All this tells us is that if news breaks anywhere, it’s likely to appear on one of the big media sites fairly early on, and lots of people who follow these sites (or click through from Google News) will point to the stories they read there; either as their prime source, or because they’re choosing to comment on the source’s take.

After the top five, as J.D. Lasica noted recently, things get a little more interesting:

“No. 5 on the attention index is Slashdot.org, followed by Britain's The Guardian newspaper and another community news site, Plastic. This means bloggers are having conversations about items found on Slashdot slightly more often than they're discussing stories found on The Guardian's Web site ... Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo and Dave Winer's Scripting News come in ahead of the Los Angeles Times ... while midsize online newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News and The Miami Herald don't make the list.”

Bloggers talk about blogs, blogging, and other bloggers. Big traffic blogs get a lot of their traffic from the fact that other bloggers are constantly referencing them. Again, no big surprise.

So if the word-of-web movement of news and gossip through the blogosphere can be seen as an analogue for word-of-mouth buzz through meatspace – clearly setting the blogvines burning is a worthy goal for any flack wanting to spread their clients’ news.

But is pitching blogs a bad idea?

In general, I’d argue: yes. It really is. But then, I should probably confess that I find the whole idea of “pitching” to be an insincere, outmoded approach anyway – in the traditional flack/hack dynamic as much as in the blog world.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Pushing Power to the Edges

In what will be the first in a sequence of papers on the concept of network-centric advocacy, I will try to spell out more effectively what has happened to our culture, where things are goings with advocacy in this new context and what strategies social change leaders should be adopting in the connected age.

In this paper, Jillane Smith, Allison Fine and I look at the state of the field of civic engagement enabled by technology, changes in our culture and the impact that these changes have for the community. The paper is really geared to explore and explain some of changes that folks (who read blogs get but traditional planners are struggling with) who plan campaigns seem to be missing. As the "online action" moves on land and energy and story built across the Internet is channeled into community action, we need to spend time digging into the implications to advocacy work.

The paper stays away from the most controversial ideas, direct and clear directions, and many of the other hot headed attitudes I normally like to promote. It is designed for a wide audience and should not be very controversial. The paper should serve as a good introduction to key concepts and is backed with interviews and case studies to strengthen the story.

Future papers I want to work on include a guide to network-centric advocacy and finally a collection of essays exploring the key concepts of building networks, measuring network performance, leadership in networks and a list of recommended pilot projects.

I will clip out a few sections for feedbacks, trackbacks and comments.

In the face of a decades-long pattern of low voter turnout, declining membership in associations, decreases in volunteerism and drops in percentages of individual donations to political parties and political campaigns, it seemed an unlikely time for the beginning of a revolution. Yet that is what has occurred online in the past few years.

The time for change was ripe for many reasons, chief among them:
* As the cost of technology and access continues to drop, and although a digital divide persists, it is closing and will continue to close over the next decade. Internet usage continues to broaden both in terms of who is online as well as what they’re doing online.
* The coming of age of a new generation of tech-savvy people has created a tipping point in the use of the Internet for commerce, conversations and group association.
* The “organization-centric” model that has traditionally dominated the civic engagement landscape has begun to show cracks. Often organizations serve as the primary intermediary through which citizen engagement occurs. The pressure that these organizations experience to build membership and revenue in order to sustain their activities ultimately competes with the organization’s ability to engage and listen to the very individuals they need in order to accomplish their mission.
* A growing tide of frustrated individuals is tired of being talked at and only asked for funds by political parties and organizations. With the Internet’s ability to create and sustain many-to-many conversations, more people are seeking authentic engagements and opportunities to be more fully a part of campaigns and causes, not just check writers or names on a membership list.
* People increasingly express a willingness and enthusiasm to connect online to others around an issue of mutual interest, with 84% of individual Internet users having joined at least one online group. The rise of Friendster and other social networking sites demonstrate the interest that people have in becoming more connected with others across geographic, economic, racial and social divides.
* The growing popularity of open source software, and its increased application to online activism and citizen engagement, is a natural fit with the values and leveling effect of Internet –based organizing.

To better understand the implications these new approaches have for civic engagement organizations and those who support them, we will first examine Internet usage across several sectors, and provide an overview of the different approaches to online civic engagement.