Monthly Archives: November 2008

More Virtual Reality

Really pondering how it is that real people make real money in virtual reality is mind-boggling. New to you? Trust me, it’s happening.

It’s started in Twitter, too, only it’s not Linden dollars as in SecondLife, it’s real money sent virtually. There’s no way to transfer the funds. Yet. It’s all based on your word. So if you TwitPay someone, you owe them money. You promised.

Think about it. It hurts my brain.

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One Laptop

You know about the One Laptop per Child initiative, but did you know YOU can buy one and experience its ultra-low power usage and already-installed open-source tools?

They’re selling through Amazon at $399, buy one (for a One Laptop kid), get one (for you or your own distribution).

Clever strategy for meeting the goal of One Laptop per Child: Want one for yourself? Help us reach our goal first! What else would this work for–does your nonprofit have a ‘hot’ product or service that could use this strategy?

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WHY you should adopt!

Clay Shirky explains why. Come to find out, he’s already a well-known new tech guru…
herecomeseverybody

Think MySpace is inane? Millions of users on social networking tools are publishing–turning the definition of that on it’s head, eh?!–but you only think it’s drivel because THEY’RE NOT TALKING TO YOU. (85)

User-generated content is a many-to-many pattern of communication (87). Think about broadcast media–that’s one-to-many. And even Web 1.0 technologies like websites are one-to-many. But now people talk back. Question is–what to do with this?!

People like to consume media–who hasn’t gotten lost on the internet?! But now we find out they like to create it, produce it, share it–sort of shouting “Look at what I did!!” to the world. (104)

Adopt something, anything now, because if you wait to create the perfect vehicle, you may never get to the unveiling! (122) Simple is good, and your online community can help you improve.

Mass creates credibility. Think of it in terms of news–one unknown source is not credible, but twenty citations of the same event lend formalization. This could apply to your events, or gathering news stories related to your work. How many bloggers do you have in your reporting network?

With online tools, “the highly motivated people can create a context more easily in which the barely motivated people can be effective without having to become activists themselves. (182). Wow–signing a petition can suddenly be done in a click, and creating the platform for action also creates roles for other people to be further up on the organizational ladder of volunteers.

Be a host/hostess at your online party (265). The mass of online interaction is like filling up a restaurant. You want people to feel like they’ve made a good choice, and feel welcomed enough to come back.

Meetup groups people by affinity and proximity (196), helping people identify niches in their own locales. And it gets pretty darn specific, too–all by user choice. So, no longer a ‘cooking’ group, but an ‘ethnic dining out night’ group! Interestingly, online tools create a way for fringe and socially unacceptable groups to organize–no longer is permission needed to create coverage or host such an event.

Great way to describe Twitter: as a channel of information you can tune into. “Like me, and what I have to say? Follow me on Twitter!”

Okay, you know how those big ideas never get tried because you don’t have the organizational structure, enough staff, etc. to implement them? Throw them to the internet wind and see what happens! Shirky talks about history (Gutenberg, the printing press–say bye-bye to Scribe as your profession, organizational theory (Coasean theory of transaction costs and power law distributions of participation), social dilemmas, and more traditional organizational structures, but mostly he relates these with anecdotes, making the text flow. His corollaries to new technologies make them make sense, instantly.

And value, what about value? How will you get back what you put into new tech? Think about this–“Increased flexibility and power for group action will have more good effects than bad…” (296). We’re in a revolution, and coming out on the other side is always difficult. Change is not instantaneous–it’s a transformation process.

Learn more about the WHY (vs. the HOW of adopting new tech) at the HCE blog.

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Email Marketing Tools

E-news–I thought it had already seen its days as ‘hot new tool’, but I’m actually rethinking that as I’m finding I still need a way to communicate regularly with a broad spectrum of folks–not all of whom are into new media.

Tried any of these or have anything to recommend?
Vertical Response – provides free enews creation and emailing (up to 10K emails monthly) to NPOs
Convio – seems like the ‘graduate level’ integrated donor management vendor
Constant Contact – pretty popular, $30 or so monthly fee
Idealware reviews a few others.

What’s your tip for a free, easy-to-use solution for a small non-techie NPO?

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Twitter Revisited for Nonprofits

I’ve been Twittering for almost a month now, and I’ve even set up a second account for a different organization!

Why? ‘Cause it’s intriguing. Why is it so popular? Today’s time is tracked in milliseconds, and Twitter conveys messages instantly. People don’t have time for anything–so this is a way for you to get out your (marketing) message instantaneously and also to absorb a lot (or as much as you like) quickly.

I’m still pondering all the applications (or what the applications might be), and if you’re curious too, here’s some other newbies and advocates who’ve written about ‘Twitter for Beginners’
a CEO
Duct Tape Marketing
Beth Kanter
the best beginner guide, according to Beth, and
a blog where I downloaded a handbook.

I’ve learned it’s about ‘getting on the bus’ and seeing where it’s going. Maybe we’re reluctant adopters, but let’s not be late to the party! Twitter is not about pitching your organization constantly, but rather about connecting with people, even if it’s only about what they ate for dinner over the weekend.

Twitter. If I figure out what it’s good for, I’ll be sure to update you here!

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Starting Your Facebook Page

Have you started your org’s page yet? Per the post and link below, you can choose a Fan Page or a Group, but the important thing is that you start.

First, you need to set up your own profile. If you’re like I was, you’re cautious–not wanting to upload a photo or provide your ‘real’ email. Well, I’m sucked in now, and I got more comfortable with sharing some things. I still have a ‘junk’ email attached to my profile, and some of my pics–while they’re real–don’t really show my face or that it’s me. So, if you haven’t started yet, make this your goal for this week.

Start slow, and then do a little more–and start your org’s page with this guide.

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What Politics Can Teach NPOs

I’m guessing it will be a while yet before the precise campaign strategies of the presidential election will be analyzed, and their applications for non-profits at all levels of applying social media will be digested.

Even the 2004 election’s web-savvy superstar status of MoveOn.org and Howard Dean is now eclipsed, and basically all information written about engaging volunteers and activists online prior to 2008 becomes irrelevant. Here’s an October 2008 article from the SFChronicle recapping some of this year’s tools.

To be fair, I enrolled in Twitter & Facebook for both campaigns. Never heard from McCain’s, though. Don’t let the ‘page established, but no updates posted’ syndrome happen to you.

What do you think are the campaigns’ best practices that non-profits will be able to use?

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