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Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Time Event
On to Calaveras for WineCamp
At the dinner after Online Community Camp, Greg Beuthin from ComputMentor told me about WineCamp, where geeks and non-profits were camping out for the weekend. Some of the people from CivicSpace were going to be there, and a major goal of my trip to NetSquared (starting Tuesday, today) was to connect with them. So off I went on Friday afternoon, after a day talking about my research at Yahoo!

Unlike the Online Community Camp, which had borrowed some un-conference ideas, this was the real deal. Saturday morning people introduced themselves, gave a few "tags" to describe themselves, and said what they hoped to get out of the conference. Tibba Phillips, founder of Output for Hope, which helps people find missing persons who are "off the grid", said she was looking to upgrade their website to include a more easily searchable database, so that the project could scale up. Zack Rosen said his goal for the weekend was to build Libba's database. On my turn I piped in that I wanted to watch/help him do it. It became a big barnraising activity, with about 10 people involved by Sunday.

It actually turned out to be an informative dry run for the course I'm planning for winter semester, where teams of students will develop custom sites, using the drupal CMS platform, for non-profit organization clients. Saturday, when we had no power or connectivity, we did requirements analysis. On Sunday, indoors at a winery, we implemented. We only had about 3.5 hours. Zack, Tim Bonneman, and I trasnferred much of the content of the existing site. Several hackers from CivicCRM put together the database part, by using their tools to add custom fields to their basic person-data entity. WineCamp organizer Chris Messina made a new theme so that suddenly, two hours into the work, our generic drupal-themed site transformed to have the look and feel of the existing Output for Hope site that we were copying. I worked on adding help material to the site so that their web volunteer would be able to maintain it. We didn't quite get to a site they can roll out, but we got pretty close and there's a good chance that their web volunteer will be able to take it the rest of the way. Here's the work in progress.

I also connected with Laney from The Princess Project, which is trying to scale up or franchise or do a chapter model of some kind. In a quick brainstorm with Laney and David Geilhufe, we hatched the idea of an online kit that would allow people to self-organize in a new city, and have their progress tracked in various ways so that the national organization could provide appropriate resources at different points, and there could be peer to peer support among chapters. It's basically a franchising/chapter model of scalable organizing, but with some new twists made possible by technology and the peer-to-peer sharing ethos.

I think this peer-to-peer chapter organizing, coordinated by a central toolkit, could actually be the big idea about how IT can help rebuild social capital that I was supposed to come up with for the Saguaro Seminar, but never did. On the ride home, Zack pointed out that this new chapter/franchising model was pretty much what they had tried to do in the Dean campaign. It's also related to what Meetup has been trying to do. And it's sort of what BarCamp is already putting into practice.

It was also a truly wonderful experience for the senses. Wine from Ferriere vineyards, swimming through a cavern, sleeping under the stars, amazing vistas, yoga in the woods.

See photos from the Flickr feed (WineCampCalaveras):
Some notes from NetSquared, Session 1
At NetSquared

  • Howard Rheingold: "Still need a residue of hierarchy, but it can be a pretty small one"

  • Paul Saffo: "The power of the whisper"

  • My summary of the morning: when the analysis gets complicated, just remember, "It's the participation, stupid."

  • From the floor: "a just society means 'not just my society' "

NetSquared, CitizenJournalism session
Dan Gillmor. Citizen Journalism is becoming the norm. Eyewitness reports from disasters are just the beginning. Digg is the darling example now because it has ratings of news stories, though he also mentions Slashdot for rating the commentary. (Look for the new interface reading comments on Slashdot, coming soon, that I've been working on with students Youn-ah Kang and Nathan Oostendorp!)

The OhmyNews story. Korea. Extremely successful; has become one of the most influential publications in Korea. 43,000 citizen reporters==>screening by news Guerilla Desk. Mostly reviews, commentary. Also 65 staff reporters, mostly hard news, analysis. But there's a lot of blending between them. Now trying an international version, and a partnership with a prestigious newspaper in Japan. 86 countries with 1000 citizen reporters so far on international version. Doubling about every 3 months.

Ethan Zuckerman, Global Voices. Story of Hao Wu, blogger detained without charge in China. Effort to publicize his case got much easier once Hao Wu's sister started blogging about the case. Lesson: "Don't speak. Point." Don't try to speak on behalf of others-- just point to those who are speaking on their own behalf.
NetSquared: state of Open Source Software for Nonprofits
Some audience questions before the start of the session:

  • Is Open Source relevant? Or are open APIs all that matters?

  • Are there underlying values for NPOs choosing tech, or is it just a question of picking what works best

David Geilhufe's arguments for open source for the non-profit sector: avoid duplication of effort; encourage innovation.

OpenBRR (open business readiness rating)-- more appropriate criteria for making decisions on open source than if you use the usual criteria that have been articulated for commercial products.

Zack Rosen on the CivicSpace ecology.

  • Drupal

  • CivicSpace Foundation

  • OpenNGO-- the CRM portion

Vendors/Service Providers

  • CivicSpace, Inc.

  • CivicActions

  • Echo Ditto

  • ...+20 more

In the CRM space, biggest three vendors are Kintera, Convio, GetActive. Then there's a long tail with the little vendors. But if you aggregate all the vendors, the CiviCRM community is number two, and much more profitable. Tools are advancing exponentially faster. Vendors in the OpenSource space are bidding 10-50% of commercial market leaders. One and two person shops are bidding against market leaders and winning.

The Mambo/Joomla fork. Major developers didn't like what the people in charge of Mambo did, so they left on masse, and were able to take the source code with them.
NetSquared Human Rights Session
Patrick Ball, Benetech
Small organizations on the ground don't want to share their data-- it's their ticket of entry to policy discussions. They do need crypto and communication so they can get their data to a secure place even if their laptops are impounded.

Make it serve the local need of the person entering the data, and by the way have it do the stuff that's good for the organization and the long haul.

Has been doing statistical analysis to estimate prevalence of Human Rights violations, based on counts and overlaps between sources.

Dan McQuillen, Amnesty International
Mashups are a great publicity/marketing opportunity for human rights organization.
The big human rights battles are about to be fought out on the Internet-- things like

Bryan Nunez, Witness
Trains human rights activists/defenders on use of video (cameras, editing, distribution). Help them use the video as part an action plan.
Patrick is very concerned about Internet filtering. (Years ago he challenged me about PICS at a CFP conference. Now he's concerned about Google's community tagging and how it might be used by ISPs for filtering. Had an interesting conversation with him at lunch about this.)

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