Tool to watch: Shinkuro

Stowe Boyd (whose name I spelled correctly this time) writes about the beta release of [Shinkuro]:(http://www.shinkuro.com/), a cross-platform peer-to-peer filesharing/collaboration tool that is similar to Groove. Stowe notes that Shinkuro supports Mac OS X, with Linux support coming soon, whereas Groove is Windows-only.

Development thus far has been funded by DARPA, whose interest in secure far-flung collaboration is pretty obvious. ( Also note the fact that Groove recently inked a big deal with Dept. of Homeland Security.) The tool is in public beta. No pricing has been announced. I wonder if the fact that this has been created with our tax dollars means that it a version will eventually be released as open source. (Yeah, I know, not likely, but that’s how it _should_ be.)

Clearly, this is a tool to keep an eye on.

It’s Your America: Your Health, Your Environment

This promises to be an interesting event with absolutely top-notch speakers.

In the Northwest, our health and economy depends on clean air and water, and
the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. Out of touch with mainstream
American values, the Bush Administration is weakening the laws that protect
our health and natural heritage. Our kids deserve better – responsible policies
focused on long-term public health, vitality and security. It’s Your America!
This workshop will help you learn how YOU can make a difference.

Experts will present on the environmental factors impacting you
and your children’s health, economy, global security,
and public places for recreation and enjoyment.

Meydenbauer Convention Center
11100 NE 6th, Bellevue, WA
Tuesday, March 2nd, 7:00-8:45 p.m.

Suggested donation: $10.00

Speakers:
GREGG SMALL
Executive Director, Washington Toxics Coalition

JIM DIPESO
Policy Director, Republicans for Environmental Protection

PATTI GOLDMAN
Managing Attorney, Earthjustice

Hosted by Scott Miller,
Co-Director, Resource Media

Movement as Network

Check out http://www.MovementAsNetwork.org.

ONE/Northwest has spent a bunch of time over the past few months thinking about how the Northwest environmental movement can apply the insights of social network theory and some other ideas to explore alternative approaches to connecting people and organizations within the movement. Gideon Rosenblatt, our E.D., has pulled together a major “think paper” that lays out a bunch of these ideas in an attempt to start a conversation. Some of them are bound to be controversial. Here are a few:

* The environmental movement is a network that is more than the sum of its people and organizations.

* This movement has invested in too much institutional overhead. Organizations need to focus on what they do best, and outsource the rest.

* The majority of local environmental groups work on niche issues and solutions that will never attract large membership bases. Funders need to help free the most important of these organizations from focusing on this distraction.

* There are three fundamental organizational strategies that environmental groups can adopt in their work; they need to pick one – and only one – strategy.

* A handful of “breakaway” organizations will emerge as environmental brands that serve local audiences by interpreting and distributing the work of other groups.

We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we’re trying to ask some of the hard questions. I invite you to read the paper and to share your thoughts with us and others.

And of course please feel free to pass it along to anyone else who you think might be interested… we really want to see this circulated far and wide.

Comments on NOSI’s “Open Source Primer for Nonprofits”

My colleagues over at NOSI (Nonprofit Open Source Initiative) just released their first big “think piece” called “Choosing and Using Open Source Software: A Primer for Nonprofits.”

This is an admirable effort on an important topic by some outstanding folks, but there are some critical points the authors overlook, as well as some factual errors that should be corrected.
Continue reading Comments on NOSI’s “Open Source Primer for Nonprofits”

Gush: interesting fusion of IM and RSS

Stowe Boyd writes a bit about Gush, a new application from 2entwine (lame name) that looks like a very interesting combination of Instant Messaging and RSS/blogging.

It appears to have some very nice/innovative UI design, and some interesting new features like the long-term storage and sharing of IM “away messages” into a sort of mini-blog. Hmm…

Gush also looks to be designed with an eye towards small-team collaboration… always intruiguing.

Also, it builds on the solid open-source Jabber IM protocol, and is if nothing else a demonstration of the kind of innovation that can happen on top of open, documented standards.

And it’s offered under a Creative Commons license!

These guys are compliant with all the right buzzwords! I can’t wait to try the app!

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.
Continue reading Is Social Software Bad for Campaigns?

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:
Continue reading Top 10 open-source tools for e-activism

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.