Benkler Channel: Remove the Planner without removing the capacity to plan.

Benkler is amazing.  He says things that most of us spend time trying to argue. Complexity and Reach make planning impossible. (BOOM) It always has been but now it is more clear and more important to accept (BOOM). (min 20+...he is on fire)

This is a really rich talk with important nods to the role of motivated people, fairness and group identity in these network models. I see his work as much less related to workplace economics and more related to advocacy and social planning.

I still see the reflection of the seven elements of network functionality in his work. I really like the idea that common language and negotiating "fairness" in the network are linked.

"Life is to complex to settle on the simple model".  He is going after the economic tracking and design model for assessing output capacity and deviation without a centralized planner. Congratulations!  

The rest of us should be working on this in climate change work, agriculture policy, health reform, and the rest of the progressive agenda.

Super Crunchers : The Future of Advocacy Evolution?

No more experts and intuition. Look at the data trends. Storage to $0 and processing power out the wazoo available for everyone.   What massive datasets do you have? What data sets can you create with a little investment.

Here are some applets that give you a sense of the kinds of things that Super Crunching can help predict. Use them at your own risk (The lawyer in me feels compelled to emphasize that I make no representation as to their accuracy). .

God's Eye View. Replace Folk Wisdom with Data

Games that generate data and change behavior.  Alex Pentland is not only thinking about network behavior but starting to look at it and measure it.  He looks at the "fabric of communication" beyond language that we used to coordinate and communicate for all those years before language developed.  This is a really interesting riff and quick introduction to the concepts in his book.

Associated Knowledge: Honest Signals in Music

We evolved for a few million years before developing language and another chunk of time before we started developing text and the written word. We are hardwired as a social animal just like ants, bees and monkeys. What are those threads that speak to all of us at that deeper level? Bobby McFerrin shows one of them here.  

As we do communications efforts on campaigns, we need to think carefully about ALL the channels we use to connect and listen to our audience. Most of our issue movements don’t do enough work to organize art, music and image that resonate and harmonize us with our supporters.  (This video made me think of all the art in the Obama campaign or the image masters form the early part of the Bush years.) 

Campaigns, organizers and communications strategy need to make use of art, image and music to slip under the fences that people build in their perceptions. I want to see those campaigns that use the image to frame.  i would like to see art and professional photographers talk about the influence of good art on a campaign.

Great video from World Science Festival link from Associated Knowledge

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

Logistics, Networks and New Intelligence

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

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

Strategically, the study notes that:

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

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

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

A Smarter Planet: New Intelligence for Smarter Supply Chains

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

How do we find the dust? Ask the network.

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

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

Link: [email protected] - participation.

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

Questions about the Parts of an Advocacy Network

I want to bang out some of the thoughts I am wrestling with after spending some time with a group of fantastic people in Seattle and San Francisco (more on that to come). The last several days have been affirming and opened a new list of questions and ideas.

I am at the place in my thinking where I now believe networks are the mechanism that the environmental and progressive movement should be exploring as new structure for organizing and deploying resources for creating change. They are not "scary" . Organizing the network means building network capacity and has little or nothing to do with the fate of large organizations.

These new networks are a mix of the existing legacy of organizing (individuals, trade guilds, organizations, unions, think tanks, churches, federations, progressive companies, politicians, software, databases, foundations, community technology centers, etc.) and a new generation of powerful and weak participants not bound into the system by the same old models. New participants and resources that are merely tied between these legacy systems by a dense layer of connections. all that I have written in the past. I have never touched on some really important concepts. I am very excited by the boost these last few days have provided and I am excited to see where the next round of chasing questions will take me.

"the Network Layout"
All the participants in the new systems are "nodes". This covers people, groups, foundations, etc. as well as databases, software, intellectual property, reputation and other nonhuman and nonphysical assets.

Questions: * What are all the nodes in environmental advocacy networks? How can we evaluate "node fitness"? What is the value of all the nodes combined? What is the output of the nodes as individual stand alone power bases? How is that output "throughput" changed when it is connected with other parts of the advocacy movement?

The value of the nodes of our network are not the only thing on the table. The connections between those nodes have value. The connectivity of the movement has a direct value (because it takes investment to create and because the connections improve the capacity of the network to do work.)

* What are the connections in the movement? How are they created? How can they be maintained? (luckily Richard Rogers was a huge help in spelling out the connections)

Nodes (people, groups and resources) and connections (self-interest, resource exchange, contagion, mutual interest, proximity, etc) are not enough to motivate network behavior. The protocol for exchanging ability to do work must also be hammered out. I am still kicking this around but there needs to be a series of steps that make it possible to push and pull work through the pipelines between our network (standards and protocols).


I am also fascinated with the ideas of "pulsing" an advocacy network. testing and monitoring the network capacity and monitoring changes in network throughput in an advocacy context.

There also is a new concept of the organizing node "cult of the alpha male" the solar stars at the centers of each network universe. What is the role of these catalyst? Can the size and influence of these players be reduced if the network finds other ways to provide these functions that they typically provide? What would that look like in an advocacy context?


There is not many answers here but I wanted to outline my current musings. Hopefully, I will pull more of these thoughts together in the weeks ahead.

Policy Sciences and Network-Centric Measurements

The Policy Sciences (Harold Lasswell’s A Pre-view of the Policy Sciences.) have been working for a 30 years to map the variables at play in a political struggle. The field (Lasswell and his followers,) has been trying to “map” the social process in an attempt to identify the dynamics at play so they can be negotiated and tracked in the open. The work has been hugely relevant for collaborative problem solving and successful negotiations (check Tim Clark’s Averting Extinction for an environmental application)

Those working on policy sciences seek to provide conceptual maps and procedures for documenting social process. They also try to provide an intellectual frame which helps examine the dynamics of every interaction, every social process as interaction in which participants seek to maximize advantage (gratifying outcomes) through the establishment and use of institutions that affect resources.

The policy sciences framework is useful in that it provides another layer of insight into the reasons to establish and maintain network-centric approach to advocacy. The policy sciences also provide a measurement matrix to monitor the impact of network-centric advocacy approach to power struggles. The policy sciences perspective all participants seek to build “values”. Those eight values are power, enlightenment, wealth, well-being, skill, affection, respect, and rectitude. They exchange those values (or draw on them) in order to achieve their objectives.

Network-centric advocacy is really about aggregating effects therefore it will wreak havoc with the typical exchanges developed by the policy sciences model. The connectivity of today’s society enables lots of players (thousands +) to actually participate in the decision process pitching in small tokens of power, skill, wealth, enlightenment etc. to realm to squeeze the process for a gratifying outcome. The network and defuse nature of the participation makes the contributions temporal and the network actors role and impact so dynamic that the context of the process won’t stabilize so typoical trades and power mapping becomes impossible.

Exploring this thought pattern farther may actually help differentiate network-centric advocacy from technoutopian theory. Hopefully, we can map the implications as we develop network-centric campaigns that target involvement into stakeholder / negotiation process.

Activate Yourself: Decentralized Wake Up Service for the Body Politic.

One of the biggest problems with decentralized action is that it will be "spiky" in nature. People in decentralized campaigns might get "fired up and engaged" during a crisis or accompaning media circus but eventually they will shift attention to other activities. This is the biggest problems for the current advocacy groups and a dynamic the politicians count on to push some of the worst special interest policy. They have traditionally exploited the idea that people have short term memory.

Large organizations have used this reality as a major reason to keep people engaged and try to recruit them into the long term membership. Network-centric advocacy needs to make sure there are mechanism to "reactivate" people at key moments (like elections). A flash mob against the war does not scare politicians today but a flash mob that resgisters voters and commits them to an election day flash-reunion would start to get the attention of those in office. (See Move-On Democracy Mobs)

I went overseas on a volunteer assignment when I got out of college. Before all the volunteers departed, we wrote letters to ourselves. The letter was given back to us as we landed two years later. It was a powerful experience.

So...We need to do the samething for our network-centric advocacy efforts. We need a decentralized campaign management tool. If we get folks interested in an issue today, we need to have them leave themselves a message (voicemail, email, posting, etc.) that will be delivered "from them to them" on election day. No need to keep a third party organization around to remind people, no message, branding or spokespeople problems. During the network-centric campaign the organizers would only need to point folks to the "wake up" system and provide them with some prompts and language to work from.

Marty, Please call 555-1212 confirm your return number or send a messsage to yourself at this link. (we will deliver for you reminding you to register and on the day before the next election. Please record how you fell about the Issue "X" . How do you want to make sure you vote? Tell yourself how important this is" How From You to You

Think of it like a long term wake up service "to the people from the people". A simple report could let politicians know that 100,000 people have left reminders to look at the candidate positions on clean water before they vote. No lobbying group, no PACs, no electioneering reporting..message loops that are managed by the masses to self-organize political clout.

The job of professional advocactes would then shift from attracting an individual to a branded longterm relationship to a series of campaigns that get folks to pay enough attention today to leave themselves a serious message. (something like an open source "Mr Wake Up"Iping) the whole service could be set up with a single democracy grant. The service will send no ads, no one owns your name, the data will never be used for anything exept the reminder the user sets up.

This would be really easy to do.

The Politics of Science

Great articles/sites on Bush Science and Politics.

Rep. Henery Waxman's committee has done a lot of homework on the ways the Bush administration has manipulated the scientific process to benefit their policy.

MotherJones also has a useful timeline of the subtle and not so subtle changes in committeee makeup and rules that the Bush Administration is tinkering with to gut environmental protection


What do I do?

1. Make sure you look up the issues you debate, look for all the "bush-vodoo-science", that is related to the issues that you work on. Look up all the science that groups you are consistently fighting might use. Also watch the committee list
if they release a report, or change the rules it is a good opportunity to point out the manipulation.

2. Pull together some talking points and pre-write a rapid response release.

3. Build a local media list (many of the national outlets have covered the story) and an email list of opinon leaders that you should send a rapid response to in the event that your opposition quotes the faulty science or committee.

4. Start monitoring the news

5. Set your browser start up page to a google search page ... Search Google for your key terms, copy the complete url ...IE.. into the Home page for your browser. (This way when you open your browser each day you will produce a fresh search.) When a news story pops up implement the rapid atttack.

6. Pass on the links to the site and sign up for the updates from the committee.

Talking points from the Site and the full report.

The American people depend upon federal agencies to develop science-based policies that protect the nation’s health and welfare. Recently, however, leading scientific journals have begun to question whether scientific integrity at federal agencies has been sacrificed to further a political and ideological agenda.
The report Politics and Science in the Bush Administration (.pdf) finds numerous instances where the Administration has manipulated the scientific process and distorted or suppressed scientific findings. Beneficiaries include important supporters of the President, including social conservatives and powerful industry groups.

A full overview of Bush on the environment can be found on the NRDC site