Friday, February 25, 2005

A technology mash-up

It's part of my normal, morning routine

I use iPodder to subscribe to AudioActivism's mp3 podcast RSS. I download it to my iPod and using my iTrip, I listen to an interview with Marty Kearns via $15 pocket radio. I took pictures with my Canon PowerShot SD200. I posted them to as a flickr set and group. And now, this.



I'm just saying.



(in: technologymashup, podcatching, podcasting, flickr, photos)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

NPTech: Updated Summary Information

Courtesy of Brian Del Vecchio, we have updated summary information on the nptech tag usage.

total unique links posted with tag 'nptech': 585

total unique users tagging with 'nptech': 44

top 10 users posting to nptech:

  • emtx09 (194)
  • DEF (183)
  • ext337 (53)
  • zac (49)
  • technophobic (47)
  • Framis (23)
  • sasslov (21)
  • geilhufe (19)
  • rlweiner (16)
  • alcovest (15)


top 10 links posted to nptech:


popular related tags:

  • nonprofit (357): DEF(181) emtx09(49) technophobic(46) Framis(23)
    sasslov(21) alcovest(15) HeyMan(9) danteusel(2) araucaria(2)
    Hybernaut(2) ext337(2) kellan(1) katrinskaya(1) goWILD(1) tedernst(1)
    philklein(1)
  • technology (339): DEF(181) emtx09(101) technophobic(46) HeyMan(4)
    danteusel(2) philklein(1) katrinskaya(1) goWILD(1) tedernst(1)
    ext337(1)
  • tech (198): DEF(172) Framis(22) emtx09(3) cozimek(1)
  • ict (183): DEF(173) emtx09(7) HeyMan(1) zac(1) ext337(1)
  • mission-based (173): DEF(171) HeyMan(2)
  • npo (154): DEF(137) alcovest(15) HeyMan(1) RelentlesslyOptimistic(1)
  • charity (149): DEF(123) Framis(23) araucaria(2) goWILD(1)
  • ngo (140): DEF(137) kellan(1) katrinskaya(1) ext337(1)
  • charitable (125): DEF(124) lighten_up(1)
  • charities (124): DEF(123) emtx09(1)
  • nonprofits (115): emtx09(112) ext337(2) cozimek(1)
  • advocacy (50): DEF(19) emtx09(15) tbishop61(8) Framis(2) ext337(2)
    alcovest(1) technophobic(1) zac(1) lighten_up(1)
  • blog (40): emtx09(22) DEF(9) zac(6) technophobic(1) goWILD(1) Tropology(1)
  • activism (39): DEF(19) emtx09(4) ext337(4) rubyji(3) Framis(2)
    kellan(1) strudeau(1) alcovest(1) lordrich(1) technophobic(1) zac(1)
    lighten_up(1)
  • community (38): emtx09(19) DEF(14) ext337(4) Framis(1)
  • consulting (35): emtx09(25) DEF(9) geilhufe(1)
  • training (34): emtx09(26) DEF(4) zac(4)
  • web (30): emtx09(26) DEF(2) lordrich(2)
  • planning (27): emtx09(17) DEF(9) ext337(1)
  • software (26): emtx09(17) ananarchivist(2) DEF(2) geilhufe(1)
    katrinskaya(1) zac(1) RelentlesslyOptimistic(1) remh(1)
  • philanthropy (26): DEF(19) emtx09(4) Framis(3)
  • fundraising (25): emtx09(20) DEF(1) goWILD(1)
    remh/Civil_Society_IT(1) ext337(1) remh(1)
  • online (24): DEF(15) emtx09(5) induhvidual(1) technophobic(1)
    goWILD(1) ext337(1)
  • digitaldivide (24): emtx09(23) goWILD(1)
  • onlinecommunity (23): Framis(21) zac(2)
  • activist (23): DEF(16) ext337(5) katrinskaya(1) zac(1)
  • organizing (22): DEF(18) Framis(2) ext337(2)
  • communication (21): DEF(17) emtx09(4)
  • database (21): emtx09(20) ext337(1)
  • techsoup (20): zac(10) DEF(5) emtx09(2) ext337(2) Hybernaut(1)
  • management (20): emtx09(18) tbishop61(1) DEF(1)
  • blogs (19): DEF(8) emtx09(6) ext337(3) geilhufe(1) rubyji(1)
  • internet (18): emtx09(17) ext337(1)
  • atech (18): geilhufe(17) tbishop61(1)
  • ctc (18): emtx09(13) ext337(3) DEF(2)
  • information (18): DEF(16) emtx09(1) remh(1)
  • email (17): emtx09(11) DEF(5) tedernst(1)


(in: nptech, nptech_data, folksonomy)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Busy

Work is hectic. I'm buying a house. We have a two month old baby and we've proven Ogden Nash's definition of "family" by pushing the same cold around the house three times. Yikes! Oh yeah, and on something like a whim (though a thought out and long-time whim) I installed WordPress and switch over my other blog. Once I feel more comfortable with it -- mainly with the plugins -- I expect I'll be moving this little blog to a home of its own.

All this to say, postings here may be light but keep checking out the bookmarks: del.icio.us/ext337.

(in: housekeeping)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

del.icio.us/ext337

del.icio.us/ext337: uploaded some linkage.

What makes a website interactive?

Three years ago, answering that question, I would have said "An opportunity for users to communicate with other users." This could have been via message boards, by posting content, by participating in a chat or even on a site-sponsored and archived list serve. My point, then, was that a site wasn't interactive if it was a series of one way communications: website owner to visitor; visitor to website owner.

But the bar has been raised. Now, I'd say that the minimum requirement of interactivity is the ability of users to directly contribute permanently archived and linked content to a site. But that's the minimum.

The gold standard is that users can change the navigation of a web site and/or the order and visibility of content on a site.

For example, in del.icio.us, users change the second level navigation via the displayed tags. This happens from page to page.

On flickr, for logged in users, the front page content changes depending on recent submissions and a low level of navigation changes based on tags.

Wikipedia? Big changes. Adding pages and even categories to the site.


(in: interactivity, website, interactive, community_created, user_created)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The meme spreads: another nptech tag sighting

Non-Profit Websites. Scroll down and you'll find the link to the del.icio.us page. Nice to see this getting out!

(in: nptech_sightings)

nptech tag information

nptech tag information. Emily's made a blogspot blog for the nptech tag project. Good deal!

(in: nptech_about, nptech)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Whoops.

If you got that, you see what happens when you mix your blogs.

I was wrong; Technorati is about aggregation

A while I back I wrote Frankly, I think Google is all about aggregation. Maybe it's just that Burningbird's tagback posts are starting to sink in. But it seems that you could the Technorati tag to track you various comments any place html and web enabled and then RSS-to-html to pour that into a constantly updated webpage that can serve as a personal portal into the Internet.

Actually, you could just use the technorati tag page for your personal tag -- dropped into posts to public listservs, comments on weblogs and websites, etc -- to pull the information together.

(in: aggregation, personal_portal, tagback)

And still more data from the nptech project

Again, this is from Brian Del Vecchio:

Here's another view, filtered for tags used 10 times or more by more than one poster,
with detail on uses per poster:

  • technology (251): DEF(170) emtx09(76) danteusel(2) philklein(1)
    katrinskaya(1) ext337(1)
  • nonprofit (220): DEF(170) emtx09(41) danteusel(2) araucaria(2)
    kellan(1) philklein(1) katrinskaya(1) Hybernaut(1) ext337(1)
  • ict (178): DEF(170) emtx09(6) zac(1) ext337(1)
  • tech (174): DEF(170) emtx09(3) cozimek(1)
  • ngo (140): DEF(137) kellan(1) katrinskaya(1) ext337(1)
  • npo (138): DEF(137) RelentlesslyOptimistic(1)
  • charity (125): DEF(123) araucaria(2)
  • charities (124): DEF(123) emtx09(1)
  • nonprofits (70): emtx09(67) ext337(2) cozimek(1)
  • advocacy (41): DEF(19) emtx09(12) tbishop61(8) zac(1) ext337(1)
  • activism (32): DEF(19) emtx09(4) rubyji(3) ext337(2) kellan(1)
    strudeau(1) lordrich(1) zac(1)
  • blog (30): emtx09(15) DEF(8) zac(6) Tropology(1)
  • community (28): DEF(14) emtx09(13) ext337(1)
  • training (22): emtx09(16) DEF(4) zac(2)
  • planning (22): emtx09(12) DEF(9) ext337(1)
  • activist (21): DEF(16) ext337(3) katrinskaya(1) zac(1)
  • philanthropy (21): DEF(19) emtx09(2)
  • web (20): emtx09(16) DEF(2) lordrich(2)
  • consulting (19): emtx09(10) DEF(8) geilhufe(1)
  • online (19): DEF(15) emtx09(4)
  • communication (19): DEF(17) emtx09(2)
  • software (17): emtx09(11) DEF(2) katrinskaya(1) zac(1)
    RelentlesslyOptimistic(1) remh(1)
  • fundraising (17): emtx09(13) DEF(1) remh/Civil_Society_IT(1) ext337(1) remh(1)
  • information (17): DEF(16) remh(1)
  • email (16): emtx09(10) DEF(5) tedernst(1)
  • open_source (16): ext337(8) DEF(7) katrinskaya(1)
  • techsoup (16): zac(10) DEF(4) ext337(2)
  • management (16): emtx09(14) tbishop61(1) DEF(1)
  • blogs (13): DEF(6) ext337(3) emtx09(2) geilhufe(1) rubyji(1)
  • foss (13): DEF(7) ext337(3) zac(2) katrinskaya(1)
  • computer (13): DEF(8) emtx09(5)
  • ctc (13): emtx09(9) ext337(3) DEF(1)
  • education (12): emtx09(10) DEF(2)
  • compumentor (12): zac(8) DEF(3) ext337(1)
  • volunteer (12): DEF(6) emtx09(6)
  • nten (11): DEF(9) tbishop61(1) emtx09(1)
  • npower (11): emtx09(9) DEF(1) ext337(1)
  • riders (10): DEF(9) zac(1)
  • database (10): emtx09(9) ext337(1)

(in: nptech, data, nptech_data, folksonomy)

More on NPTech Related Tags

(Again, credit for this goes to Brian Del Vecchio)

tags related to 'nptech' used 10 or more times:


(in: nptech, nptech_data, folksonomy)

NPTech Experiment: A Description

The nptech is experiment came out of the Nonprofit Taxonomy Creation thread (which, in itself, was spawned by a previous thread which in itself -- but I won't go there).

Essentially this experiment was to encourage participants to:

  • sign up for del.icio.us accounts
  • include the tag "nptech" when bookmarking anything of interest regarding nonprofit technology

This had three goals:

  1. collect interesting/relevant URLs;
  2. find other users interested in the same topic; and,
  3. jump start the creation of a taxonomy.

We wanted, as an initial pass, to pull the following data out of the collected bookmarks:

  • Total number URLs tagged with "nptech";
  • Total number of users employing "nptech";
  • Weighted list of URLs where weight is determined by the number of times a URL was bookmarked; and
  • Weighted list of tags associated with each unique URL.

If you'd like to participate, just sign up for an account and use the nptech tag when appropriate. Please tag the nptech links vigorously: the extra words help with the project.

(in: nptech, nptech_about, folksonomy)

NPTech Experiment: Prelimary Results

Here are some prelimary results from the NPTech Experiment courtesy of Brian Del Vecchio:

total unique links posted with tag 'nptech': 479

total unique users tagging with 'nptech': 31

top 10 users posting to nptech:

  1. DEF (170)
  2. emtx09 (139)
  3. zac (47)
  4. ext337 (43)
  5. geilhufe (18)
  6. rlweiner (16)
  7. tbishop61 (11)
  8. remh (10)
  9. rubyji (9)
  10. kellan (5)

top 10 links posted to nptech:

  1. http://www.techsoup.org/(4)
  2. http://www.civicspacelabs.org/ (3)
  3. http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/ (3)
  4. http://lincproject.org (3)
  5. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Information_Systems_Forum/ (2)
  6. http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/002032.html (2)
  7. http://blog.deborah.elizabeth.finn.com/blog/(2)
  8. http://eweinb04.blogspot.com/2005/02/non-profit-technology.html (2)
  9. http://www.tfraise.com/matrix.htm (2)
  10. http://www.backspace.com/action/all.php (2)

top 10 related tags:

  1. technology (212)
  2. nonprofit (186)
  3. ngo (135)
  4. non-profit (133)
  5. npo (132)
  6. not-for-profit (130)
  7. tech (127)
  8. charity (125)
  9. charities (124)
  10. nonprofits (70)

In addition, Tim Bishop has sent a spreadsheet containing the nptech data.

More raw information will be coming.

(in: nptech, nptech_data, data, folksonomy)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Because I never ever want to listen to that station

So, I get an iPod for Valentine's Day. I know, it's early. But I wheedled and put on my best cute, I've been working hard look and held the baby and the cutest of the dogs. It works every time. And an iTrip. She did good.

Anyway.

I'm excited and I immediately start dumping a bunch of podcasts on it. I'm up too late dumping podcasts on it. But I was happy because I had to drive the work the next day which meant I could play with the gadgets and listen to podcasts.

And so I hope in the car the next morning, swing by casual carpool to pick up a rider and take off into the city.

And through the radio "blah, blah, blah blog blah blah rss blah blah mix blah blah www.blah.com." But, of course, I don't notice because it all sounds wonderful to me.

Until I drop the rider off. She sticks head back in and say, "Ummm. What radio station were we listening to?"

(in: podcast, blah, ha)

Whew! Catching up is hard to do.

del.icio.us/ext337 -- just uploaded a whole lotta links.

(in: none)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A blog gives you a bullhorn

NevOn: The Hobson and Holtz Report - Podcast #6: February 7, 2005 is a good listen all around. The money spot, though, appears about 24 minutes in. Noah Acres from BigHa talks about responding to a newspaper editorial on his blog. He said* that he thought about the fact the newspaper can print what it wants without contact him, so why can't he? He pointed out that the blog was his platform and so he decided to use it.

That, right there, that blogging removes the gatekeepers and gives you an opportunity to respond to issues, news, comments about yourself is huge reason for nonprofits to have weblogs.

*That's half memory and half a scrawl across an index card but I'm pretty sure I got the gist right.

(in: podcast, marketing, pr, outreach, why_blog)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Lessons Learned: Getting data about the "nptech" tag

After poking around and convincing myself I couldn't find the answer on the web, I posted a request for tag analysis help to the del.icio.us discussion list. I wanted the helped I'd asked for here.

I found that I couldn't get what I wanted. At least not in some highly elegant organized way. I can port the html of the nptech pages into CSV and go from there with some initial analysis.

But I got a lot more.

Through the discussion (I have 30 emails in the thread though some of them were off-list), I learned a lot about a big flow in the experiment and ways to think about getting past to that flaw.*

The flaw, at least as I read it, is the relative obscurity and arbitrary nature of the "nptech" tag excludes any users who don't find out about the tag directly (via listserv or blog posts, for example) or who don't tag surf to it and then begin to use it.

So the initial project goals:

  1. collect bookmarks having to do with nonprofit technology;
  2. find unknown users;
  3. provide a weighting, represented by the number of users bookmarking an item, for bookmarks; and,
  4. collect descriptive words to inform a more formal taxonomy project.

are undermined by the exclusive nature of the proposed unifying tag.

This leads me to the conclusion that, once some tag analysis has been done, we should do some analysis on the most bookmarked URLs to stretch beyond the users who use "nptech." That will certainly inform the first three goals. But it will really inform that last. We will be able to collect additional words and word groups for the taxonomy process.

Today was, in my book, an absolutely fabulous learning day.

*It's my policy not to quote anything that I haven't been given express permission to quote and/or can't be linked to on the web.
update:Thanks to a hybernautics I found the delicious-discuss archives. You can view the thread tag analysis help that provided much of the thought behind this post.

(in: nptech_about, tagging, classification)

Tagging behavoir and quality

There have been, for a while now, a lot of data points and conversations about folksonomies swirling around in my head. Those have been added to by the nptech experiment, Rebecca Blood's recent comments about offensiveness and tagging, and a recent read at Darren Barefoot's site, Accentuating the Positive in Metadata and Folksonomies. I'm also thinking of my own use of tags which happens, primarily, at del.icio.us and flickr. I use tags to:

  • gather information from a wide variety of users;
  • organize material for my own benefit;
  • organize material for the benefit of a defined group of friends and family; and,
  • deliberately try to share things I think are interesting and/or useful with other, unknown, people who might be interested in the same topics.


What's lacking is any type of quality control.
The reason, I think, that these systems work so well is because they have figured out how to harness self-interest in the service of group benefits. So, quality control by ranking things (in the way that Stumbleupon does or even the Omidyar Network and eBay do) does not catch that particular tiger by the tail.

But what if tags functioned as a kind of vote?

That is, the number of times that something was tagged with a given word placed that something higher on the list.

Here's an example using flickr. Or anyway based on flickr.

Trying to invest users in a community while maintain the motivating factor of self-interest.
Right now, on flickr, you can set the ability of others to add tags to your photos. The default is that you allow your contacts to add tags. But this can be pulled in closer -- only contacts identified as friends and family can add tags -- or pushed out -- all flickr users can add tags. And, when tag gets added, I can see the list of current tags and, (presumably) it gets added for all users. That is, if I add "nptech" as a tag to an image, all users will find that image when looking at the "nptech" tag.

But what if that worked a little bit differently. What if the default is that any flickr user can add a tag to any public photo? And what if I can ignore tags that aren't mine?

For my own self-interest, I might tag other people's photos to be able to organize them myself. I might do this just because I want to, I might do it because I'm assembling collections of photos for various reasons. And I might want to ignore other tags because I don't want someone else's ad hoc taxonomy added into mine when I'm working with images within my own organization schemes. I might choose to this because I'm using a tag differently than other users, for example.

So, I'm tagging my own images and others. And when I'm tagging other images I'm not seeing the previous tags.

But this organizational aspect of flickr is only one of the benefits and completely ignores the social benefit. The ability to looks at everyone's tags and to tag surf images, to subscribe to tags etc.

So, when you move to everyone's tags, in fact, all of the added tags are there. But now, because users aren't looking at a list of tags and adding to it, but rather putting their own tags on an image, the tags have a natural weighting factor that is provided by the number of users that have chosen the same tag for an image. In many cases, that will be a single tag -- the tag provided by the images owner. So, now you can view the photos within a tag in two ways -- newest to oldest (that's how they are viewed now) or by weight. That is, if many users have used the particular word in tagging an item please show me that item first.

That provides a sort of quality control. I can tell that many people have felt a given word applied to an image. It also gives the community an opportunity to respond to what they may feel are inappropriate tags and they can do that by tagging an image with words they are feel are more appropriate. The image will fall to the bottom of the pile in one tag -- presumably the inappropriate one -- and will rise in another tag.

So, now tags are also a kind of vote. I can choose to view a collection of images -- including images that aren't my own -- in three ways: by my own organizational schema; by the organizational schema of all other users, newest first; and, by the organizational schema of all other users, weighted within a tag by the number of users who have chosen that particular tag.

It seems like -- seems like -- this continues to harness self-interest and doesn't interfere with the organizational or social aspects of these kinds of applications and begins to provide an opportunity for some sort of quality, editorial function via tag choices.

(in: tags, tagging, folksonomy, metadata, quality_control)

Influence a CRM software project

From a post to the Riders-Talk listserv:

CiviCRM is seeking input on the design documents for our open-source (GPL) relationship-management application for the NPO/NGO sector. Four full-time developers will start coding CiviCRM to the design documents on 2/14/05. Get your input in by then!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WHAT IS CiviCRM?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CiviCRM is a LAMP-based, open-source project to create relationship management software for the nonprofit and nongovernmental sectors. CiviCRM stores information on the universe of people associated with a nonprofit organization and on their interactions (emails, donations, petitions, events, etc.).

http://objectledge.org/confluence/display/CRM/CRM+Project+One+Pager


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
INPUT ON WHAT?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CiviCRM manages contacts and relationships for other software applications. Initially CiviCRM will manage contacts and relationships for the Drupal/ CivicSpace platform (www.civicspacelabs.org).

For other software developers to use CiviCRM, they need to know the data model and the public API. The data model defines what is available (individuals, households, organizations, relationships, groups,
actions) and the API defines how developers access and manipulate that data.

To review documents, follow the hyper link, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the "add a comment"hyper link.

Feature overview (high level):
http://objectledge.org/confluence/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=592
Data model:
http://objectledge.org/confluence/display/CRM/Data+Model
Public API:
http://objectledge.org/confluence/display/CRM/CRM+v1.0+Public+APIs


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
HEY, I"M NOT A CODE-HEAD!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If the documents above make your head hurt, you can still make a valuable contribution! Write a user narrative for us about how a NPO/NGO would store, group and manipulate information about individuals, households and organizations.

User narratives are plain English stories about what a NPO/NGO would do with CiviCRM.

To contribute a user narrative, follow the link below, read the examples, scroll to the bottom and click the "add a comment" hyper link.
http://objectledge.org/confluence/display/CRM/User+Narratives


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
THIS IS COOL, HOW CAN I HELP IN MY COPIOUS SPARE TIME?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CiviCRM is an open, community process. We encourage broad participation. The more you contribute time and effort, the more impact you will have on CiviCRM.

Find out how to participate here:
http://objectledge.org/confluence/display/CRM/How+to+Participate

Alternatively, drop me, David Geilhufe, an email at dgeilhufe AT-yahoo DOT-com. We'll find a good way for you to contribute and get all your questions answered.

Please distribute this announcement to anyone that you think needs to know about CiviCRM



(in: crm, open_source, foss, nptech)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Some del.icio.us API help

Okay, so we've gathered a lot of bookmarks in the nptech tag in del.icio.us. Now, I'd like to see if we can get some information out and I'm having some trouble. I can figure out how to get data out of my own user account, I'm having trouble across user account, however.

I'd like to know the following across the nptech tag in del.icio.us:

  • The total number of URLs tagged
  • The total URLs orderd by number of users who bookmarked that unique tag
  • The total number of participating users
  • The words associated, via tags, with each URL.


Everything else can -- I think -- be got at by manipulating that basic data. Anyone available to help on this?

updated: Ah, I should have thought of asking the Lazy Web for help.

(in: delicious_api, nptech_about, help)

More on nptech

[This is a version of a comment I made on the Omidyar network]

The question at hand is: How can we use the nptech tagging project.

So here's my thoughts on the potential outputs/outcomes for this project:

  • A collection of bookmarks. As Emily's noted, this project has resulted in 400+ bookmarks. This can provide a basis for people delving into the topic of nonprofit technology.
  • A collection of interested users. From my standpoint, this is also interesting. Via the users, I've found weblogs and projects that I didn't know existed. It feels like, at a base level, the start and/or extension of a community.
  • Weigthed importance of links. This is very rough but the number of users who link to any given URL provide a "weight" for this URL. I'm reluctant to translate this directly to "importance" but it's a judge of reach, need, and interest.
  • A collection of words. This one requires more of a leap and I'm not sure if I'm making the right leap or explaining the jump very well. So, if we pull together all the words that different users used to tag a single link, we'll get an interesting collection of descriptive terms. Some of those words will have been used more than once. Those words become highlighted -- these are the words users (even if they are relatively geeky users) are using to describe a parrticular link. Begin to link those together and this can provide the hierarchy for the directory that Emily talked about. It can also begin to provide the basis of a nonprofit taxonomy.

The real question for me is about that last one. How realistic is that? Can a folksonomy be mined to begin a taxonomy? And what, exactly, are the uses of this taxonomy?

(in: folksonomy, nptech_about, nptech_outcomes)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Technology, Serendipity and Social Change

The common wisdom is that nonprofit executives are overworked, busy with the details of running their organizations and, when they think about technology, they should concentrate on the appopriate uses of it. Often, that translates into thinking about technology infrastructure, a basic web presence and some fundraising and outreach.

I'm starting to think that isn't the right answer.

I'm starting to think that maybe nonprofits should be on technological edges. They should, in fact, purposely position themselves so that they can take advantage of potential for the benefit of social change.

What potential? I have no idea.

I try and parse out my own attraction to bright shiny things in thinking about this. And that's hard. Actually, it's very hard.

By making sure that nonprofits are taking advantage of innovation, they have the opportunity to move technologies and change in specific directions. Certainly, this happened with the Dean Campaign and their use of DeanSpace, now CivicSpace Labs. Technology, and being open to it, helped to take the campaign in ways in would not have gone without it.

I'm not arguing, here, that serendipity is a technology plan. I'm thinking that it is an opportunity that should be considered in addition to proven benefits.

So how can nonprofits position themselves to take advantage of potential:

  • Open APIs. If they develop a web presence that has any application functionalities (this could include a database), they should make sure that they are using a CMS that allows for an openAPI so that it is possible to interact with their content, data and any applications that might be available on their website.
  • XML, RDF, Atom, RSS, Syndication. Any of these batch of words may be used to explain a process by which people can subscribe to a website with an aggregator. It also allows the publication of headlines on others sites. In one way to set content -- and your ideas -- free. You never know how people are going to use stuff.
  • Utilize a Creative Commons license. People using your stuff spreads your ideas and that is a huge part of engaging with all of the different available constituency. And, this is of course a serendipity key, you never know how they are going to use it.
  • Open Source your internal applications. You have a specialized database that you've build to handle case management functions? Open source it. Give it a license that allows it to be used and modified by others and then, just like everything else in this list, set it free. People may build on it in interesting and beneficial ways.
  • Encourage others to experiment with your data. This is, in my opinion, what OCLC is doing with their software contest. Again, they don't know what the results will be but there is a good chance they are going to be interesting.

How else can nonprofits position themselves, technologically speaking, to take advantage of the unexpected, of opportunity?

(in: opportunity, potential, social_change, technology)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Link upload

Tossed a bunch of links into the link blog (RSS). Enjoy.

(in: link_blog, housekeeping)