Monday, March 28, 2005

We've launched a little website

We've been doing a little bit of planning at CompuMentor. You can see some of it in our website and the new name of our direct service program: TechCommons. More about that in a day or two.

In doing all of this planning, we started talking about our own knowledge sharing, the way in which we each use email to archive all kinds of information, word processing documents to collaborate with colleagues. And then it struck us: why not just put up a knowledge sharing site and skip the whole step where we put a password on it. The result is ConsultantCommons.org: Sharing Tools for Nonprofit Technology Support.

The site is very beta. In the really we mean it beta way and not in the Google beta way.

Our goal? Simply put: share our own knowledge about our consulting practice in a way that creates an explicit path to reuse, collaboration, and re purposing. Do we hope that other people share their knowledge? Yes. Absolutely. Do we know, entirely, what is going to come out of this? Not yet. But I'll tell you what, you'll know as soon as we do.

(in: nptech, consultantcommons, commonscoalition, consultants)

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Who's using the nptech tag?

One way to find out: join the IRC chat: Almost Famous - nptech chat.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth: Last Night's Boston Digital Divide Meetup

Mena Trott's keynote

I'm listening, typing but also listening, to Mena Trott's keynote on blogging. I have a session about blogging right after this, so I'm spending some time doing a little bit of revamping to take advantage of the information she's sharing here.

But it's also captivating to me that she's talking about the social phenomenon of bloggin -- something I very often leave out when I am talking about weblogs.

Generally, she's talking, and using examples, of how easy it is for information to spread like wildfire -- once you get bloggers to pick that up. She used the Star Wars kid has one example of this.

There is still a huge hurdle though -- how do nonprofits put out information that will get picked up by bloggers?

One way, and this came out of the blogging dinner last night, was for nonprofits to be prepared for "the teachable moment." So, the election, the tsunami, the Iraq war, 9/11. These all were "teachable moments." They were times when, if a nonprofit had positioned itself with a history of publication, personal voice, and publishing, their information could have provided deep source material to webloggers, journalists, and the public in general in those times.

But the positioning can't happen 10 seconds after the "teachable moment." It has to start now so that there is history of expertise in a certain area and helps position the nonprofit to take advantage of the energy that can often swell around an issue.

(in: blogs, mena_trott, ntc, 2005march, NTEN05)

Last night's blogger dinner

The food, though Cajun in Chicago seemed a little, well, odd, was very good but the company and conversation, ah, that was excellent.

We talked about links as currency, the issues of privacy, organizations ability to stay on message when using blogs, the impact of spam, nonprofit branded feedreader, and other things that I couldn't hear because we had about 15 people and a bunch of small conversations going on.

Here's the post dinner photo:


(in: blogger_dinner, ntc, 2005march, NTEN05)

Tagging the NTC?

del.icio.us/tag/nten05: Use NTEN05 to get it onto the list.

(in: ntc)

Are you blogging NTC?

Add your blog to the N-TEN wiki: nten - Blogging NTC.

(in: NTEN05, ntc, 2005march)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

N-TEN : 2005 NTC: Tag this! Some NEW NEW stuff on the Web, and how it will affect you

N-TEN : 2005 NTC: Tag this! Some NEW NEW stuff on the Web, and how it will affect you. I just realized that I'm going to miss this session because it conflicts with another, on which I'm a panelist. I'm very, very bummed about it. I'm looking forward to the session notes.

(in: tagging, folksonomy, ntc, 2005march)

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)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

See you in Chicago!

I'm leaving for Chicago today and N-TEN's Nonprofit Technology Conference. I'll be at CompuMentor/TechSoup's science fair booth. I'll also be participating in a Wednesday night dinner for nonprofit bloggers. I've got a session on Blogs and RSS up my sleeve as well. I'll be participating in that session with my colleague, John Kenyon.

If you're at any of those locations, say hi!

(in: ntc, 2005march, meet)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Three Pillars of Social Software

Thanks to Jon Stahl's post on the Nonprofit Emerging Technology Exchange listserv, I heard about Gideon Rosenblatt's new thought piece: Three Pillars on Social Source. It's in my @read pile. I'm looking forward to it.

(in: social_source)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A proud parent moment

lucinda 190
lucinda 190,
originally uploaded by gorickjones.
I restrain myself. Not more than one a month. Here's the baby picture update: LucyBeck flirting with the mommy behind the camera.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Follow up materials for the my blogs and RSS session at NTC

I have a few materials for my upcoming NTC session that are, and this is putting it kindly, in beta. I'm hoping that the session itself will provide me with some ideas and resources for completing these drafts. And, frankly, I'm hoping it provides me the raw material for future drafts. If you interested in seeing the documents as they are now, you can look at them here: Blogs and RSS | Consultant Commons (beta).

(blogs, RSS, NTC)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Is podcasting the next big thing?

Driving home from Ventura, we were listening to kcrw -- they make their content available via podcast. It's getting into the mainstream. People are developing companies. But is it hype? Is it useful for nonprofits?

Deborah Elizabeth Finn wonders if her own skepticism about new technologies gets in the way of really biting off this trend. I don't know. I don't know if it's the next big thing.

I do think that it's a new channel for nonprofits to explore. From distributing PSAs to channeling material to stakeholders, it seems like a good way to help get content out.

(in: podcasting, nonprofits, communication)

Linky goodness

Get 'em via the RSS feed. All links, all the time: Marnie's link blog.

Non-Profit Use of Open Source | Doc Searls' IT Garage

Non-Profit Use of Open Source | Doc Searls' IT Garage by Taran Rampersad: "What is happening within groups working on the Digital Divide is an increase in the awareness - and use - of Open Source software."

(in: foss, open_source)

Blogger dinner at NTC?

It look slike i'll be hosting a blogger dinner at this year's NTC in Chicago. It'll be Wednesday night. There will be sign ups at the conference. So, if you're a nonprofit blogger or have an interest in nonprofits and weblogs, come to the dinner.

And if you can't make that and you see me around the conference, please stop me and say hi.

(in: ntc, blogs, nonprofit_blogger_dinner, 2005march)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Google Groups : Nonprofit Emerging Technology Exchange

Leading up to this year's Nonprofit Technology Conference, Mark Carr, Sonny Cloward, Greg Ewing and me spent some email energy talking about blogs and the associated sessions and how to give good information without duplicating it in our sessions. That conversation merged, naturally enough, into a way to keep the conversation going after NTC.

And so Sonny started the Google Group: Nonprofit Emerging Technology Exchange. The focus of the group is to talk about blogs, wikis, rss and other forms of online communications, group and/or collaborative applications. Sonny documented the early email exchanges in this background post.

One of the first things we launched into was a discussion of a nonprofit branded feedreader.

If you're interested in this topics, join the group. We're looking forward to the conversations.

(in: nonprofit_groups, community_technology, nonprofit_emerging_technology_exchange)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Bay Area Penguin Day

Penguin Day: Free and Open Source Software for Non-Profits. Nonprofits, consultants and developers will meet in Oakland, CA to work together around issues of open source and nonprofits. It's a chance to network, learn and share.

Bay Area Penguin Day is one of a successful series that began after last year's NTC.

I found that it was a terrific opoprtunity to meet people and, also, to broaden my understanding of the nuances of open source. I look forward to this year's Bay Area event.

(disclaimer: CompuMentor, the organization for which I work, is co-organizing the event. I'd attend even if we weren't.)

(in: open_source, foss, penguin_day)

PSAs in podcasts

Audio Activism has started delivering public service announcements. This is, I think, a terrific opportunity. Not only to have a PSA delivered to someone's audience but as a concept.

When combined with a $25 podcatching device, organizations could easily distribute their PSAs at relevant events.

(in: podcatching, podcasting, psa, nptech)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Rest in peace.

Shirley Nadine (Cowden) Beckwith was a sister to six, a mother to three, and a grandmother to five. For 64 years, she was a wife to Wilbur Harvey Beckwith. She has four great-grandchildren and, she just found out, a great-grandson due near her August birthday. To her many nieces and nephews, she was Aunt Ney. To me, she was grandma and a terrific example of what it means to care for and love your family.

She died this morning, at about 5am. I will miss her.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

1/3 of the way through my aggregator

I've been without a home Internet connection since last Thursday. Today's ferry ride to work brought me a third of the way through my aggregator. I'm not emphasizing the "new" in "news," is what I'm saying. But here's a handfull o' links: Marnie's link blog. It's all about the RSS.

(in: housekeeping, web_feed, and link_blog)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

TechSoup - RSS Feed Launch Page

TechSoup - RSS Feed Launch Page. That's right, kids. You can now subscribe to TechSoup. Go to town.

(in: nptech, techsoup, rss)