Cluetrain Revisited – Emerging Conversational Ecology for Nonprofit

February 15th, 2008

Ten years ago, four authors came together to start a new conversation about marketing. The result was a book called The Cluetrain Manifesto and with it, Chris Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger nailed 95 Theses on the door of the Internet and challenged us all to wake up to a transformation underway in how companies and people engage in markets.

Their Ideas have grown up to become a reality during past ten years. Today markets in corporate space and consumer products have begun to recognize that they have to listen to their customers. Their recognition of collaborative online communities has created new opportunities for them.

Those who are interested in identifying real world applications should listen to a weekly podcast. It attempts to put into practical, usable terms the methods of implementing the ideas laid out in The Cluetrain Manifesto. Three interviews available at BlogTalkRadio provides summary of reflection on ideas proposed by Cluetrain Manifesto.

There are several initiatives showing adoption of these practices in the nonprofit world. Increasingly organizations are realizing that initiatives which ignore the people behind the computers are going to fail.

Call to action is not new for Nonprofit. In-fact some of them can’t survive without it. It would be interesting to find out how emerging ecology of conversation have begun shaping call to action and role of professional Nonprofits in this changed environment. Internet profoundly changes the way people interact with nonprofit. Creative uses of these challenges have created new opportunities for nonprofit work.

‘Google Generation’: Myths vs Reality

January 31st, 2008

A new study (Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future – PDF format; 1.67MB, 35 pages) challenges the common assumption that the ‘Google Generation’ – (defined as those born after 1993 and explore the world of a cohort of young people with little or no recollection of life before the web.) is the most web-literate.

The broad aims of the study are to gather and assess the available evidence to establish:

• whether or not, as a result of the digital transition and the vast range of information resources being digitally created, young people, the `Google generation’, are searching for and researching content in new ways and whether this is likely to shape their future behaviour as mature researchers?

• whether or not new ways of researching content will prove to be any different from the ways that existing researchers and scholars carry out their work?

• to inform and stimulate discussion about the future of libraries in the internet era

A news release : Pioneering research shows ‘Google Generation’ is a myth from The British Library has a nice summary of this report’s finding.

World Economic Forum 2008: The Power of Collaborative Innovation

January 22nd, 2008

2008 World Economic Forum will highlight The Power of Collaborative Innovation as the principal theme during its Annual meeting in Davos. This year users can join them, and help them, by submitting your own answers to “the Davos Question,” which is: “What one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008?

The Annual Meeting begins on January 23, 2008 where world leaders will be viewing and responding to the videos many of you have already submitted. Post your answers here.

Details of Web cast is available here.

According to Business Communicators of Second Life Reuters Brings Davos 2008 to Second Life. It will also be accessible, at least in part, to Second Life visitors and residents.

The Davos Conversation is expecting to post contributions from bloggers working / associated with BBC, CNN, TechCrunch, Huffington post etc. BBC special report on the World Economic Forum 2008 is available here.

The first protests against the WEF took place on Saturday in the Swiss cities Bern and St. Gallen. UK Indymedia has posted some pictures of Protests in Switzerland against the World Economic Forum

It would be interesting to see which YouTube videos get screened during this meeting.

Nonprofit: Evolution of IT – Does IT really matter?

January 21st, 2008

Recently I came across 2007 IT Staffing Survey: Take it Now! on NTEN site. They plan to publish results of their survey in January 2008.

One of the findings of their 2006 Survey indicated that “More than 95% of nonprofits routinely outsource specific IT functions.” This makes me wonder how far the issues raised by Nicholas Carr in his polemic during 2003-2004 (IT Doesn’t Matter) are relevant to understand investment decisions by nonprofit – both for IT staff and IT infrastructure.

Describing his posting IT Doesn’t Matter he wrote:

I examine the evolution of information technology in business and show that it follows a pattern strikingly similar to that of earlier technologies like railroads and electric power. For a brief period, as they are being built into the infrastructure of commerce, these “infrastructural technologies,” as I call them, open opportunities for forward-looking companies to gain strong competitive advantages. But as their availability increases and their cost decreases – as they become ubiquitous – they become commodity inputs. From a strategic standpoint, they become invisible; they no longer matter.

Carr’s new book (2008), The Big Switch, targets the emerging “World Wide Computer” — dummy PCs tied to massive server farms way up in the data cloud.

It seems that while evaluating IT investments and staffing by Nonprofit one would need to take into account these changes and arguments. Today IT is becoming a commodity and a big switch from the desktop to the data cloud is gaining momentum. May be it is time to incorporate these emerging trends into our analytical frameworks. It quite likely that evolution of IT in Nonprofit might follow patterns one observed in business sectors few years ago.

Non-Profit: Online Forums, Blogs and Comments

January 19th, 2008

Most Non-profit sites have yet to create / add mechanism to facilitate audience participation. Liability for third party content and managing forums without online flames remain one of the key concerns for these groups. Mark Glaser has very interesting post on this subject: Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation. According to him:

What has changed in the last year is that major media companies are no longer arguing over whether they should have comments under stories or blogs; instead, the debate is about how they should moderate them and even highlight the best ones in eye-catching editorial spaces. Many sites are embracing the concept of “news as a conversation,” and trying to create active conversations among reporters, editors and readers online.

It would be interesting to evaluate status of debate on this subject among NGOs. If Non-profit web strategies consider that the web is a dialogue and not a lecture then they will need innovative ways to facilitate conversations. Growth without deepest, most meaningful engagement for users may not help their mission.

Track and Analyze Online Videos

May 25th, 2007

Yesterday I came across posting on TechPresident (Personal Democracy Forum) announcing their partnership with TubeMogul, a new site that creates beautiful charts that make it easy to track and analyze online video.

TubeMogul is a free service that provides viewership-related analytics for those that publish and monitor online video. TubeMogul gathers intelligence across major online video sites including Metacafe, MySpace, Google Video, Revver, Yahoo! Video and YouTube.

NGOs and others who use online video sites may want to check out easy to use Dashboard based service avaialble on TubeMogul to track and analyze use of their videos.

Non-Profits and User-generated Videos (part II)

May 3rd, 2007

It appears more Non-profit groups are designing creative campaigns by inviting user generated content.

During forth week of January 2007 UNICEF called for submissions to its ‘Media Magic Make a Difference!‘ one-minute video contest. Youth under age 25 were invited to submit a one-minute video on the contest’s theme, telling the world what young people think about the world they live in and how they’re making a difference.

Over 100 young people responded to UNICEF’s call to create a one-minute video telling the world what young people think about the world they live in and how they’re making a difference.

“The winning video will be featured on the UNICEF and Voices of Youth websites, vodcast by UNICEF, featured in the Media Magic Digest and be included in the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting 2007 materials, which are available to broadcasters around the world. The winning director will be honoured at an awards ceremony at a conference in New York City.”

All entries will be reviewed by the Media Magic team, with the video finalists displayed on the main UNICEF website. The winner will be judged by a global panel of media professionals, as well as a public on-line vote.
You have until 14 May so Vote NOW!

These initiatives let users choose favorite videos from these submission. Though mechanism to select videos are far from being easy / sophisticated.

GoogleEarth: Creating understanding for Darfur victims

May 2nd, 2007

On April 1oth, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC, inaugurated online mapping initiativeCrisis in Darfur, using Google Earth in partnership with Google. This lets you visualize, better understand, and respond to the genocide currently unfolding in Darfur.

According to Google about 200 Million users use Google Earth. This provides huge potential for outreach for NGOs.

In the past number of NGOs have used Googlemaps for news and advocacy purposes. You can find extensive list of GoogleMap mashup and how to use tools on this Blog.

Above initiative provides interesting example of how to merge high resolution images from satellites, testimonies and other data compiled by NGOs with Google Earth. Ease of use and powerful presentation of complex data can be extremely useful for advocacy and expanding out reach to new constituencies.

Museum expects to use these tools to creating understanding and empathy for Darfur victims.

Applying Viral Principles to Charity / Nonprofit work

March 30th, 2007

A Blog post on TechChruch provides very interesting information about new project / startup- Agape.

Describing how non-profit and other charities have been raising support for their it argues that “Charities, political parties and affinity groups all rely on participation from people who share the same beliefs and ideals. But recruiting and fund raising are largely stuck in the pre-Internet era.”

Agape wants to harness principle of viral new startup to increase their effectiveness.

Those interested in these ideas may want to check out here to find out more information in future.

Upcoming Event: Reinventing Politics using Technology

March 30th, 2007

NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network - a membership organization of nonprofit technology and program staff and technology providers is organizing a conference in Washington DC (April 4 – 6, 2007). This year’s conference is centered on Reinventing Politics: Creating Social Change From the Ground Up. Agenda for this meeting is available here.

A blog post on Wild Apricot nicely sums up what one can expect from this conference : “Collaborators, colleagues, and clients in the nonprofit and technology sectors will have the opportunity to share resources and learn about what works, what doesn’t work, and what is in the works when it comes to using technology to help make the world a better place”.