African Americans, Hispanics Lead Mobile Web Growth

This kind of data consistently comes up in online organizing. who has access and what do the trends look like. I thought this was really interesting. I worry a little about the English survey skewing the results but broadband in the home ranging between 37% and 68% means that opinion leaders in almost all the groups will have access.

The Hispanics surveyed reported the highest penetration of cellphone ownership, at 89 percent. On a typical day, 14 percent of English-speaking Hispanics reported playing music and 5 percent reported watching video on a cellphone or PDA. In terms of overall digital activities, English-speaking Hispanics who are online or are cell phone users outscored the other two groups.
The study was conducted in English, so the Hispanic population surveyed was skewed to a higher socioeconomic group, the study notes. When Spanish speakers were factored in to Pew's December 2008 study, the rate of broadband penetration in Hispanic homes was counted at 37 percent, while in the most recent study of English-speaking Hispanics, the rate was 68 percent.

African Americans, Hispanics Lead Mobile Web Growth


Learning from Smart Bacteria: Quorum Call for the Action

Smart networks of bacteria wait for "triggers" and feedback to tell them when to act collaboratively and mulit-cellular collective action. Bacteria have a few million years of evolution on collective action planning. If our species, campaigns and social events thrive on these same conditions of signaling then we need to make sure that we encourage constant "quorum testing" across our base. It is not donations.

We need to look at common channels across our movements and among our base so that we can trigger movement action.

Our strategy of control and managing people in silos and isolation doesn't create power it jams our quorum sensing on political will for change.

Great and thought provoking talk on many levels.

Bonnie Bassler on how bacteria "talk" | Video on TED.com.
Bonnie Bassler discovered that bacteria "talk" to each other, using a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks. The find has stunning implications for medicine, industry -- and our understanding of ourselves

Problems Campaigns Face: Riffing from PDF

We are in a unique moment of people organizing. At this time, our culture becomes both increasingly tied together and fragmented (danah boyd). Organizers dreamed for years to be able to reach millions of people (YouTube) and they pined for the day thousands of allies could collaborate in synchronizing efforts (Iranelection ish) to agitate for change of culture, industry or policy.

Now we sit in among vast networks of supporters, allies, friendsters and professionals (1000+ at PDF) as committed to our issues as we are, but working together alludes us. change remains just out of reach.

We know much about campaign planning (spitfire strategies) and communications strategy but the underlying alignment mechanisms for marshalling and managing the power in campaigns have shifted beneath our feet (who is momsrising…go Roz!). We are transitioning from an organizational-centric world dominated by good management, ownership, hierarchies and “the firm”  to a network-centric world driven by leadership, transparency, reach and sharing (Ny311, government spending dashboard).

Leaders in broadcasting (newspaper) are being replaced by those focused on creating connections (craigslist). Both will always exist, but there is no doubt networks and network organizing represents a transformative trend.

Today, as movements organize they need a mix of both traditional campaign and communications strategy coupled with network strategy. (Obama)

Common Problems that Many Campaigns Face.

Experience demonstrates that these strategies are less effective without complementing each other. (Gates on education ) The interplay of campaign, communications and network capacities influence the planning implementation and success of each.

Coalitions, collections of groups, and crowds of people often lack the clear vision, campaign objectives and communications plans (PDF…although Sunlight stuff is a nice direction) that help identify the critical networks for further engagement, direction and collaboration. However, even when like minded and allied leaders can agree to connect and collaborate without a unified vision the emergent networks rarely develop the functionally collaborating infrastructure (Green Group) so that the participants can self-organize a clear vision, campaign objectives and subsequently develop campaign and communications plans.

In both scenarios, the coalition without clear objectives and the campaign without the functional network, basic levels of network infrastructure are needed to move forward. However, time after time organizers get stuck with little budget and no plan to solve the fundamental dysfunction in the networks the campaign depends on to achieve success.

The lack of budget and plan stems from a mix of both planning and management issues. There is often an unspoken lack of trust of the base and an unwillingness to trust allies. Yet, there is little investment in the systems that would build performance of far flung collaborative team ( fostering trust in the base).

Organizers that don't trust people to be as committed as themselves therefore design processes to get mild users to support the most committed rather than to actually engage and work effectively with the many-many-many less committed activists. There is a lack of diversity in the "committed base" and most effort is focused on recruiting a more diverse set of people into the same mindset rather than diversifying the agenda and the definition of what the movement is committed to achieve. Many leaders are oddly proud to be disconnected from trends in culture, communication and technology.(not at PDF)

The combined effects of these management biases and systemic gaps create a mess and complete lack of alignment between objectives, organizing, revenue plans, budgets, vision, communications, network organizing and technology plans. The resulting tossed salad of tech tools duct taped onto an organizing effort with no intention of listening, learning, serving and adapting makes a mockery of bottoms-up ownership. (thinking PickensPlan Ning)

On the planning side, many groups have even acknowledged that they are now entering a phase of network building, “taking a network approach” or that they are dependent on networks to create change but when pushed they have no framework for even discussing why, how or what are the elements that make an advocacy network functional.

Unfortunately, groups have no process or limited capacity to identify these conflicts and gaps. As organizers, they have limited experience bridging bottoms up discussions with mangers, funders, planners. Their is not enough circulation of the stories and theories of change that could realign the policy, network and communications activities.

Organizers and tech builders don’t have the materials, work process to help staff better understand organizing in the age connectivity and what is developed by foundations is disregarded and by consultants is trademarked.

We can look at all the pretty tools and see all the activity (online and off) but until the network builders and technologists explain the shift in logic that occurs to more of the organizers embedded across our movement most of us agitating for change will remain as we were only with better websites. 

I had a blast in NYC at PDF.  It was great to take time to step back and look at the broader trends and the ways those trends influence work at Green Media Toolshed and the training I do with Netcentric Campaigns. These events like PDF make me realize how fast the technology is moving in shifting the logic and thinking of the technology leaders and the gap that is emerging between that edge and traditional organizers and current leaders of organizations.

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Get Thee Behind Me, Disco Duck! » Digital Diner

I am playing a bit of a punk to the wise elders of tech....Gavin and Michael.  I don't disagree with feelings of these riffs against walled gardens, lobster traps and annoying ads but I don't think the advice that emerges works.

I would suggest... 

  1. Don't design for yourself. (Perry White reference alone makes this point)
  2. Providing your vision, comments, staff time and content and only asking for email name alone is akin introducing yourself online.
  3. It is not that big of a deal for people to "skip to homepage" through the splash page. Those pages are the best ways to start collecting information on users.
  4. People are not on Facebook or "being pushed to Facebook" by groups. They are there for their friends. They are on Myspace in equal numbers. It is the nonprofits that need to listen and organize where the people are. Going where the people are at is reducing the barrier.
The problem is that many groups look at relationships as "lobster traps". Groups want to engage people to pick their pockets and political capital but want the lightest possible relationship (they can't service many relationships). Groups seldom want those people to talk back. The threat is that it is not controlled or directed in the same way as traditional platforms and the groups lack the skills, tools and organizers perspective to be able to let members serve each other.     


Get Thee Behind Me, Disco Duck! » Digital Diner.
Michael Gilbert (who I think of as my own personal Perry White) suggested I repost my response here, on the Diner. (I think he’s worried that I haven’t posted much stuff in the last few months. Not to worry Michael, it was just a dry spell caused by excessive time travel.

YouTube Stats from PDF

This came via email from PDF. It is a statistic that I use in presentations.  According to this the YouTube network is more active than I have been giving it credit for:

currently pouring onto YouTube alone — about 200,000 three-minute videos added every day — is the equivalent of 385 always-on TV channels. In July 2008 in the United States, approximately 91 million viewers looked at nearly 5 billion videos on YouTube.

Amazing. This can only be organized by the network of viewers filter those 200,000 videos. 

I am looking forward to PDF this year.


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 www.Hootsuite.com) . 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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conversation

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

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

Scanning

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

Working Over the Results

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

Publish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best,
Katie & Alex
DonorsChoose.org Carolinas

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


Ty'Sheoma Bethea,: J.V. Martin Junior High School in Dillon, S.C., Where is the Donate Page?

 

Watching the speech tonight, I was so moved by the story of Ty'Sheoma Bethea. I wanted the President to tell her story and end it with the resolve to make build the school first. (Shovel Ready  this week).

I also feel like well maybe the point is not to wait for the President to do it but to see the people he inspires knock this one off. (I am still looking for a donate page somewhere that moves money into the school and the students).

After, all that. She had better have the school fixed.  

 Letter from the heart lands teen in first lady's box for tonight's speech -- chicagotribune.com


The Mirror Treehouse


I hope my kids never see it. Otherwise, I will be building one of these someday.

This is like something out of a movie.  It would totally freak me out if I ran into one of these on a hike (can you say alien?)


Another Limited Rebellion.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Now you see it - now you don't Architects use reflective materials to defend high-rises because the surfaces reflect the sky and blend in. Okay. Swedish design firm Tham & Videgard Hansson Arkitekter used the same principle to create a treehouse that truly blends into it's environment. They say it minimizes impact on the immediate surroundings. I say ultra cool woodland wetdream of the midwest xenophobe survivalist who crave the minimalist flare of contemporary Swedish architecture and interior design.


 


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!

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Network-Centric & Alinsky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Logistics, Networks and New Intelligence

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

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

Strategically, the study notes that:

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

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

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

A Smarter Planet: New Intelligence for Smarter Supply Chains


Internet access for the Unemployed: Netcentric Recovery Plan

Picking up on a riff from yesterday. I have been thinking about the issue of serving the unemployed and reconnecting the economy after the financial system reboots.How is this recovery going to be different from 1930's?

Unemployment benefits should be bundled with 12 months of Internet access.  It is part of the investment in the transitioning worker. It is a critical part of the modern "safety net". It will create jobs.

Why should we do this?

  • People need to job hunt.
  • the unemployed need to interact with government agencies and services and online access would reduce government servicing costs.
  • It would help nonprofits and food banks squeeze more efficiency in the way the coordinate delivery of services and assessing needs. 
  • It would create an intensive online training program (from basic computer skills (how to email, network and search) to all the free and more advanced training online.
  • employees could stay in touch with previous coworkers (DHL alumni group on Linked-in) and family at reduced costs.
  • it would up our workforces competitiveness and prepare the unemployed to collaborate on projects for new jobs.
  • the new free web services (gmail,google docs, skype, etc.) enable productivity in the cloud. so event thee $39 computer or the web books would meet basic needs.
  • it would open up lots of new self-organizing (laidoffcamp.org) and new business start up. 
  • It is important for the families that are trying to figure out housing availability, stay connected with schools and teachers.
  • the unemployed on the program (using the govt access pages) could be asked to review elements of the recovery activity, congressional budgets, state budgets, etc.(would probably find enough mistakes to pay for the whole program)
  • when companies want to rehire or pull from their former workforce they could easily reactivate the latent parts of our workforce.
  • Emotional support, entertainment, etc.
  • They could cut off other services (like cable and phone) to save money.
  • It would generate a new revenue and industry from states for web businesses that could target reengaging the unemployed. 
  • If it shortens unemployment of each persons by just a few weeks it would pay for itself. (480 per person per year).
  • It would accelerate the use of the stimulus dollars, tax programs, etc.
  • It would shorten the amount of time it takes to find the unemployed and fill new positions (saving business money)
  • It would keep the unemployed a more powerful political force.
  • It is a manageable cost program. (worst case = 40 a month * 4 million unemployed * 12 = 2 billion ).   The faster the unemployed find work and get into positions where they create value others are willing to purchase the faster the economy recovers. 
  • Other ideas?

Economic Recovery Models in Depression2.ouch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


Grid Computing for Our Network?

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

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

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

The World Community GridHow Grid Computing Works

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

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

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

World Community Grid - About Us - How Grid Computing Works

 

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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.

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

   

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

   


Hackers and Foot Soliders Attack ATMs: The Netcentric Robbery

Here is a amazing swarming of crime.  This is like distributed GOTV operations scaled up to target ATM (requesting money instead of votes).  Hackers recruited and provided the exaserbated window to cashout money but they knew that the ATMs shut down if X amount is pulled from the location.  They distributed the foot soliders with walking lists, targets and the ATM cards to pull from.

This will be a case to watch as it lays out a new style of attack toward resources that are protected by their fragementation (no one could pull 9 million from an ATM but making a window in the infrastucture and distributing the attack pulled in as much as a haul as knocking off an armored car.)   

I wonder if the 130 local crooks knew what they were doing (part of the bigger plot).

Here is the amazing part: With these cashers ready to do their dirty work around the world, the hacker somehow had the ability to lift those limits we all have on our ATM cards. For example, I'm only allowed to take out $500 a day, but the cashers were able to cash once, twice, three times over and over again. When it was all over, they only used 100 cards but they ripped off $9 million.

The RBS Web site says that card holders will not be responsible for any unauthorized transactions. But there is fear that the hackers might have had access to sensitive information used in identity theft for a potential 1.5 million customers -- including their including Social Security numbers.

"The number of machines that were accessed, the number of cities that were targeted, and the number of people that had to be involved in this is quite significant," Agent Rice said.

Investigators are hoping a break in the case may come from one of the cashers. The theory is they probably were recruited, paid a small fee to be solders in the scam, and might be likely to rat out the people who hired them.

There are millions of people out there these days with these payroll cards. RBS officials say they have sent out letters to anyone who might have been affected. They are also offering one-year credit protection for people whose Social Security number may have been jeopardized by this scam. However, the good news is that it doesn't look like any identity theft has occurred yet.


Rosa Sat. So Martin Could Walk. So Barak Could Run... YEAH!

This video (definitely watch)inspired me to revisit a 2005 post.

Rosa Parks: Thank You I have been thinking a bit about Rosa Parks. I am grateful for all she has done for humanity, my country, my friends and my own life. The contribution of courage and vision has opened a better world for all of us including my family and the life my kids now have. I am thankful for leaders like Rosa.

I am thinking about the conflicting "myths" about Rosa. I am most disturbed at the "simple woman" stories. She was not simple because her job was a seamstress. I don't know why she was a seamstress (maybe it was a way to pay the bills?) However, someone's job does not define their character.

Rosa was brilliant. She was a genius. She was a leader with courage and conviction. She was an activists working for social change. She was a liberal. She was trained in field organizing. She was a fundraiser and she never buried her head in the sand and let "others" solve her problems.

She didn't wait for "somebody" (as in somebody will do something about it). She was a great person who got fed up and took action. She was not the head of some group or at the top of some civil rights organization but she was a leader and a change maker. Don't let the media tell you need to be in charge of something to have power.

Thanks Rosa ... Now the Video. ...Fly Baby Fly


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

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

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

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

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

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

How will the larger sector react?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What could be different?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHILANTHROPY 2173.

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


Time to change the 5% rule for foundations! 10% or bust!

I was in a meeting yesterday with a foundation officer who shall remain nameless (unless he comments on the blog). And he talked about the idea that the biggest asset base which has not been tapped in this economic crisis is the foundation asset base. It is a brilliant idea that should be explored.

As part of the stimulus plan, the administration should shift the IRS rule that minimum payout must exceed 10% for the next 3 to 5 years. The money in foundations is money that our society has set aside without taxation to improve our common good. The pool of funding is enormous. The payout from the pool of funding (is) can be regulated by the IRS. The IRS has a 5% rule that forces money out the door of these foundations.

Our society and the nonprofit sector need the influx of that cash now. Government is going to up taxes on everyone to pay for the stimulus eventually.

Today..without raising taxes, or impacting our deficits, the new administration could stimulate massive amount of activity by forcing the hands of these foundations.

Many progressive and good foundations are already spending down. They are stepping up to help in this economic crisis well above the minimum IRS allocation. However, for those that wish to sit out (and sit on assets) at such a time when our society and the nonprofit sector need them so much seems unacceptable. A small change in a regulatory rule effecting so few and benefiting so many scenes in order.

For progressives, who have a very favorable rate with regulatory and legislative climate, this forced move would inject real horsepower into nonprofit organizations at a time when they could create the most change.

It is an interesting idea. I would love to see the pros and cons fully debated.



Council on Foundations | Legal Essentials.

What is the 5 percent payout requirement? The purpose behind the minimum payout requirement[27] is to prevent foundations from simply receiving gifts, investing the assets and never spending any funds on charitable purposes. The basic rule can be stated simply, but its calculation is complex: Each year every private foundation must make eligible charitable expenditures that equal or exceed approximately 5 percent of the value of its endowment. The word "payout" while convenient is somewhat misleading and is not used in the Tax Code section that creates the rule. The word "payout" suggests grants or contributions paid out to other charities. Although these grants normally make up more than 93 percent of the expenditures of most foundations, many other expenses can also qualify in meeting the minimum payout requirement. In short, the 5 percent payout rule need not be satisfied solely with grants.


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.


Road Runner or Wile E Coyote?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Intersting Post: Information Overload and the FOOD IS THOUGHT Metaphor

I love this riff. For a long time people in the nonprofit sector that I work with have complained about information overload.

In this following post, the author spells out information overload like a Vegas buffet. Just because it's there doesn't mean you have to overeat. It is not a bad thing that all the information is there.  The new skills needed are about being able to pick through the buffet carefully to get you the nutrition that you need.

I like this post because it also relates to some of the choices that the public are going to be making as they get overloaded with potential campaigns, volunteer work, and engagement opportunities.  We are going to need to train people how not to get overloaded, and how they should pick the right menu of items to get the satisfaction that they seek.

In our sector does the satisfaction come from policy work, hands-on work, social engagements, brands, sex appeal, or something else? In 1970, it may have been a lot harder for people who care about society to find the right cause, and to find the right way to plug-in to make a difference. Today, people seeking to do something are standing at the Vegas buffet.

We should not try and offer them everything from each group. We should try and figure out what nutritional value does our organizing present and help them clearly understand how engaging with us satisfies their hunger to do something.


Information Overload and the FOOD IS THOUGHT Metaphor | ribbonfarm.
Clearly, information abundance and attention scarcity are real. Information overload is not. Just because there is too much food at a Vegas buffet doesn’t mean you have to overeat (though many do). You just have an easier time satisfying your calorific needs than through hunting or farming. As in Vegas, there will be a lot of waste — food that’s sampled and not finished, food that’s never touched and thrown away. You might think that information abundance and attention scarcity are just different ways of describing information overload. No. Information abundance is a problem for producers. People like me, in short, who have to discipline ourselves. Cooking one new and exciting dish in limited quantities for the potluck is better than making a second pot of mashed potatoes when somebody is already making a first pot. Attention scarcity also is a problem for producers rather than consumers. I, as a blogger, must try to get your attention. But you, as reader, can choose to tune me out completely and go elsewhere. The biggest insight from the metaphor is this: you don’t even have to sample if you don’t want to, so long as there are a few dishes you like that make up a balanced meal. Indians might like to eat Mexican food, and Mexicans may like to eat Indian food, but each can survive without the other. And actually did for several millenia before the cultures had any contact. Let me translate that back to the information domain. Curing Information Anxiety If you are still not convinced, it is probably because you believe the following: that as the flood of information coming at you increases, your processing workload inevitably increases. After all, you have to, at the very least, glance at a news headline or email subject line for a tenth of a second to decide whether or not you want to process (or eat) it. Surely, even with the most efficient recommendations from StumbleUpon and all sorts of filtration tools, those tenths of seconds still must add up? No. The key to understanding why is to think of information throughput rather than information input. You only need to ensure that enough high-quality information (nutrition) is coming at you so you can add enough value (digestion, information work) to make a living off the throughput-process, and hopefully enjoy it (tasty work). So yes, it has to be balanced and sufficiently varied (protein, carbs, fats — theory, facts and history), to allow you to function and make a living, but you don’t have to experiment and sample unless you want to, or your traditional means of adding information value through your work is under threat. If you are an experienced welder in a great job, and you read nothing, you are probably still safe except from the unlikely event of really advanced robots taking away all high-skill welding jobs.

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?


Collaborative Paper: What to do in the nonprofit sector to offset the economic crash.

Well. Here is the paper to get the Cascading Failure discussion going.  I decided to also put it on a wiki.  The answer on how we understand and survive this meltdown is out there in the network.  The network better have a space to start kicking it around...

Please join in the discussion...

nonprofitnetworks.wetpaint.com.
At this stage, it is clear that nonprofit and advocacy groups are 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:

Nonprofit "Winners and Losers" in Difficult Times.

Just as there are “winners” in the private economy ( financial network news, repo companies, grocery chains (more eating at home), collection agencies, craigslist, certified mail companies (deliver bills and foreclosure notices) etc. There will be nonprofits and advocacy groups whose services and plans are amplified in value as the economy worsens. Who are they? Capacity organizations that serve many other organizations will be better insulated from shocks and provide a higher quality assurance for donors that benefits will spread. Looking only at the spaces they occupy (not their internal financials) Nonprofits like:

  • Aidmatrix (support service for food banks and food distribution)
  • Tides (joint management services)
  • Lapiana (nonprofit mergers)
  • Green Media Toolshed and Rethink Media (shared media contacts and media outreach tools
  • OneNorthWest, Progressive Technology Project (shared technical skills)
  • Rootscamp (volunteer driven trainings) ,
  • Green for All, The Apollo Project, (Green Jobs/ Green Energy)
  • Conservation Leadership Institute, CCMC, Resource Media ( shared communications capacity)
  • Volunteermatch, (collaborative volunteer recruitment)
  • FreeCycle.org (exchange of trade of free stuff).
  • Democracy In Action (shared technical tools)
  • Rockwood Leadership Program, ICL and ELP (leadership development and networking)
  • Additionally, the shift of the policy fight back to the federal level will help those groups with heavy political and lobbying assets applicable to federal policy.

These groups and other simialr organizations in other issue areas provide low overhead, cheaper costs, easily distributed benefits and more effective “shared and pooled services”. They all seem likely to expand during this downturn.

Groups like these that are designed to deal with the obsitcles difficult economic times creates for others in the movement should do well.  However, they will be the exceptions.

What other models need to be "in the list"?


Crashes: Crisis: Network Resilience: Nonprofit Action Planning for the New Depression (working paper - feedback please)

At this point no one can reasonably argue that we are headed for anything but extraordinarily difficult times; about as bad as we imagine and definitely worse than we can easily come to terms with.

One of my board members recently sent me a note that analogized our situation to the “Wile E Coyote Effect.” You might remember the coyote running along and not realizing that he has run off the cliff. He keeps running suspended magically by denial. Then he stops. Wile feels around his feet for the ground, and then looks down to find the ground has disappeared beneath him. Well, here we stand in . Some of us are stopped on the edge of the cliff, some have kept running and are suspended way out over the cliff, and some of us are holding the anvil over our heads.

We should all begin to operate with two assumptions.

1. The decline in revenue is going to shred the progressive advocacy movement. The movement at the end of 2010 will look very different from the movement of September 2008. People, talent and assets that remain are going to be scattered across the landscape. We are going to need to remap and network those elements together in order to continue to mount successful campaigns.

 2. 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. Legislative and policy opportunity is going to come in even tighter and more intense waves.

My intention is to present those assumptions and add to the ongoing conversation about what these changes mean from the viewpoint of the activist, executive director, network strategist and progressive.

We need a plan that can deal with these reductions in our capacity, staff and resources while also enabling us to capitalize on the opportunities the new political climate is going to produce. Our movement can not shrink from the opportunity the current climate has created nor can we run full speed off the cliff assuming we can run on thin air.

The plan we develop must be cheaper for our groups, protect as many of our talented people as possible and address both the opportunity and the chaos of our time.

We must rally the nonprofit sector to view this as our own strategic restructuring milestone.The moment the progressive advocacy movement figures out how to collaborate and synchronize on a scale never imagined. It is in this chaos that we are challenged to reorganize, retool, rethink and network in new ways. We have the opportunity to emerge as a networked movement that can solve the big problems including ones we could not solve in the past. After this depression, whatever infrastructure is in place will be the backbone for a new era of advocacy if we plan and execute our transition well it will be our greatest success.

We need to understand a little bit about what happened in the market? What is coming? How do we continue to fight for change and run our campaigns in difficult times? How does the economic and political change reshape our work, shift our day-to-day actions and force us to revisit strategy?


Sequoia Capital Review of the GDP projections and impact on Funding: How does this work out for Nonprofits




There are lessons to learned for us looking to move our nonprofits into better position for the downturn. It should not be surprising but our lessons and challenges are going to be shaped by the trends in the powerpoint but our approach and outcomes are going to need to be different for 2 reasons.

1. We have a huge opportunity to reshape policy, culture and legislation over the next two years (at least).

2. Survival of our groups is important but in the nonprofit sector and advocacy and campaign world there is a sector relevance that relates to public attention. Going to ground to survive will result in our groups disappearing from the radar and then exacerbating the loss of relevance and funding.

Good strategy is good strategy and I don't think they are really offing much of a radical shift form typical business advise. cut costs and focus on core values. I am interested in two things.

What is different?  What strategy did you shift because of the economic downturn? Why is the logic behind that recommendation shifted because GDP is now likely going downward?

Van Jones - The Happy Network Effect

The publisher apparently only spent a few grand on publicist and that ended up crashing for some personal reasons. Van Jones really did just lean heavily on friends and groups that they had worked with over the years. Great story.

Link: www.huffingtonpost.com.

Jones ultimately attributes the success of the book's marketing campaign to what he calls the "invisible network of networks," and he thinks this "network effect" is here to stay.

"There are too many products coming from too many directions, people ignore the hype," he said.

"But if you're in a network that's about respect and reciprocity, people will take action.



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' - physicsworld.com

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

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


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

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

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

Why?
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?

Progressexchange_cloud


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.
http://www.netsquared.org/2008/conference/projects/email-advocacy-index

We also ran on Center for American Progress emails....over on our blog.
http://netcentriccampaigns.org/advocacy-email-index

A better title would also be great. (comments)


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

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

It is a beautiful campaign.


Free Running: X-treme without gear.

And now for something totally different...

My new favorite sports channel

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

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

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


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

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

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


Kudos Richard Rodgers