Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Go read it. Really.

Movement as Network: Three Pillars of Social Source. I linked the other day before I read it. Now I'm linking after I've read it. Go read it. Really. Read it so you can talk to people about it -- on your weblog, on listservs, in your office. Because, in so many ways, that seems to me to be the purpose of this document to start a conversation. And Gideon Rosenblatt has done an excellent job of that.

I like the way that Gideon explicated the application developers, application integrators, and the application hosters. It provides a nice way to think about how to develop an expertise as a provider of services and how to look for what is missing in the sector. And, by and large, I believe that deep, meaningful integration between those groups is a huge part of what is missing. Regularized integration that can be tracked over time.

But that isn't what really caught my attention. What really caught my attention was this:

n much the same way, the nonprofit technology sector must also come to see itself as something greater than the sum of its individual parts, for it too is a network - a network with the potential to become a movement. What holds it back from its potential as a movement is the lack of a unifying mission. Yes, the nonprofit technology sector does exist to serve the technology needs of the nonprofit community. But that in itself is not unique. Microsoft plays this same role every time a nonprofit organization uses Word to write a letter or Excel to create a spreadsheet. What is it that makes the nonprofit technology sector greater than the sum of its parts? What is its vision - its reason for existence? What, in short, would turn it from a sector into a movement?

We've been talking about that at CompuMentor. We haven't framed the question that way; we've framed it in a much more internal way at first. We framed it as: what can we do to have impact on the sector that is unique to an organization, our organization. And that lead us, because we have publishing platform and a distribution platform, to begin to think larger. Movement was never the language we used but we started thinking in those terms.

And we are at a point now where we have something of an answer. A way to organization ourselves, our work, our relationships and the power that exists in this vast field of ours that we think can raise the bar for technology in nonprofit organizations.

And I'm not going to tell you about it right now. Here's a teaser: my business card no longer says "consulting services." It says "TechCommons."

I'm going to talk about it at a lunchtime meeting at NTC and then write about it after that. If you're at NTC and you want to hear more about what we're working on, please join me at:

Thursday, March 24th from 12:45PM-1:30PM (second half of lunch)
The Cook Room, located on the 3rd Floor of the Chicago Marriot
Water, Coffee, Brownies, Candy, Milk & Cookies will be provided

I'll write more about our new service direction after this meeting.

I'll tell you though, and no kidding, I wish I'd had the language in Gideon's piece as a way to think about this going into our planning process. It would have elevated the discussion right away.

(in: social_source, movement, compumentor, techcommons)