Why social change agents should blog

Marty Kearns offers some great thoughts about why blogging is useful for social change activists:

Casual online publishing helps foster network cohesion:
* Develops new “weak ties”. (I don’t know who you are reading this but if you read it often enough you get a sense of what fires my engines.
* Fosters common story and common language. I realize that most of my posts need reworking before I share them with work, funding or friend circles.
* Improves team situational awareness. My friends send me good links or ideas and I will flush them out a bit on the blog.
* Refines thinking and provides stimulus for face-to-face conversation. I have actually bumped into people that read this site every so often and we pick up on a thread of mutual interest.

Blogging is also a way for activists and other social change agents to play around with journalism, reporting and commentary — three skills that are going to be absolutely critical for social movements in the next century (if they aren’t already). Blogging is one of the many ways for activists to make their own media, and a part of the “Progressive Wurlitzer” that we need to build to counter the centralized media juggernaut of the right.

Is Social Software Bad for Campaigns?

In the short essay Many-to-Many: Is Social Software Bad for the Dean Campaign? Internet pundit Clay Shirky dares to ask the provocative question of whether the Dean campaign’s reliance on social software tools has created a great sound and fury that doesn’t actually deliver results at the polls.

While it may still be a _wee_ bit early to write the post-mortem on the Dean campaign (‘ja think?), Shirky is right to question the assumption that online action equals real-world activism.
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Top 10 open-source tools for e-activism

Dan Bashaw and Mike Gifford, whom I was very pleased to meet at the 2003 “Web of Change” conference, have pulled together a nice little article called Designing for Civil Society: Top 10 Open Source Tools for eActivism, that’s getting some attention in the NGOsphere. (That’s my just-minted neologism for the nonprofit blogosphere.)

A few comments and quibbles with this generally-excellent article:
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weblog strategies for nonprofits

Marty Kearns pointed me towards Weblog strategies for nonprofits @ Radio Free Blogistan which contains a number of thoughts on how nonprofits can/should be using blogs as part of the web strategies. A lot of obvious good ideas here, and some not so obvious ones. Many of them are ideas we’re actively experimenting with here at ONE/Northwest (as evidenced by the fact that you’re reading this right now!).

I’m not sure I agree with the idea that aggregation should happen at the level of “the nonprofit community.” Folks care about issues and places — it would be nice to see the aggregation happen at that level — and in fact ONE/Northwest is working hard to make that happen for the Northwest environmental community.

“A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy”

Clay Shirky, who publishes an often-good email list called Networks, Economics and Culture sent a great — but very long — essay this summer called A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy which contains an incredibly rich series of nuggets about group dynamics and applies them to experiences with online groups and community building.

Anyone who’s involved in any kind of collaborative work (online or not!) owes it to themselves to read this essay.

I’ll briefly summarize some of the key ideas/’grafs:
Continue reading “A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy”

Kubi and Groove

This is a nice comparative review of two leading “peer-to-peer” collaboration tools: Groove and Kubi.

Groove is a standalone app; Kubi integrates inside of Outlook. Both point the direction towards online collaboration tools that don’t require visiting a slow, clunky website, but instead offer rich, fast, powerful UIs in familiar environments. The downside? They’re closed-source, Windows-only tools. For now.