News from the NTEN Connect Blog

The Cone of Uncertainty is Not a Saturday Night Live Sketch

Submitted by Holly on Tue, 05/06/2008 - 5:56am

Flickr Photo: Forty PhotographsYou know the drill. You need a new website gizmo or database doodad. You do your best to define the requirements, the stages you will go through during development, how much it will cost, and how long it will take. But somewhere during actual implementation, everything goes sideways, and nothing goes as planned.

We all know this happens, but no one can ever explain why. Well, now we have a nice graph to support gut feeling. The folks at Flightpath bring us this great post about planning for software projects and raising toddlers.

Having done both, let me just say this: True that, Flightpath. True that.

Have Your Say for the Future of Philly WiFi

Submitted by Holly on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 10:32am

Flickr Photo: hykuFlickr Photo: hykuIf you live or work in the Philadelphia area, set aside some time on the evening of June 3 for a public forum on the future of wifi in that city. The event is organized by the Media Mobilizing Project and Temple University's School of Communications and Theater and will feature several speakers as well as an open forum for discussion. I could preach again about why I think muni wifi is so vital to the nonprofit sector, but the event organizers put it best:

The promise of a city where everyone has the potential to be connected, opens new doors for economic, social and political participation.

Show & Tell: A New Webinar Series from NTEN (And It's Free!)

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 6:30am

Flickr photo: scotsman001Flickr photo: scotsman001 So, you work at a nonprofit organization and you've been hearing about ways you can reach your constituents, organize your work place, and raise money for your cause with the help of technology. Maybe you've even started learning about some specific strategies, tools, and trends -- with the help of NTEN, of course.

But let's face it: there's a lot that has to happen between learning about cool tools or trends and investing in new products or services for your organization. No matter how cool a new technology may be, you can only stretch your organization's budget so far.

NTEN wants to help -- and so do our discount partners!

Starting next week, NTEN is presenting a new series of webinars called "Show & Tell" that will give you a personal tour of the products and services that are within your reach, thanks to the discounts provided to NTEN members.

> Free! Learn more and sign up today.

You'll get up close and personal with our discount partners to learn more about their specific tools and services, ask questions about the products, and take advantage of special savings.

In this first installment, you'll learn about:

  • Web and audio conferencing services
  • Web 2.0 platforms
  • E-communications tools
  • Data storage and recovery services
  • Website development services

All are welcome! NTEN members and anyone else interested in learning more about these tools and discount opportunities are invited to join us for the free Show & Tell sessions.

Turns Out, Everyone Just Wants to Have Fun

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 12:29pm

Does this chart make you want to rethink your Facebook strategy?

Facebook Apps

How To: Put Technology To Use: April 2008

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 12:14pm
Your guide to the resources that will help you put technology to work for your cause, this month with an environmental focus. Earth Day may have passed, but that's no reason not to try a little harder every day. Think of what will happen when everybody does.

Determine Your Impact

> It seems that if you run an environmental website, you need to offer a calculator of some sort. For overall carbon footprint, we liked the offering from Redefining Progress best -- and not just because it said we would need only 2.2 Earths if everybody lived like us, as opposed to the 2.7 reported by Earth Day Network. That's half an Earth! If you're short on time, wants to organize the like-minded, social network style, but you can just use their One Minute Calculator.

> Then there are the more specific calculators. The Sierra Club lets you determine not only how much fuel, but how much money you would save if your current car met proposed new standards. There's even a Call to Action after you use it, so it's a good model, as well. And if you're concerned about your diet, you can score it for Health, Environmental Impact, and Animal Welfare. Just be warned that, apparently, eating anything at all is bad for the environment.

> Need more environmental calculations in your life? has a long list.

Use Less Energy

> After using those calculators, you may be a little concerned -- that's the sensation they're supposed to inspire, after all. 2.2 Earths? That's at least 1.2 Earths too many -- and even then, Shanghai, Houston, and Mexico City will still be smoggy.

> So, let's do something. Greener Choices breaks down household energy use by function. The Department of Energy has a list of ways to cut those numbers down, while Energy Star's site helps you find new, more efficient products.

> One of the hobgoblins of energy waste is Phantom Power Drain (which even sounds like a hobgoblin's name). If you walk into your living room at night and see blinking lights or the steady glow of LEDs, you're losing power, up to 15% of your total bill. Belkin's new Conserve power strip -- it comes with a remote control! -- can help stop PPD.

Make Every Day Earth Day

> Getting a new computer at work? Congratulations! Now, recycle that old one. Earth 911 and the Environmental Protection Agency both have information on how to keep your old compy from being dumped on India like a tech support phone call.

> You should also check out GreenPrint. Their software promises to eliminate "unwanted pages saving paper, ink, money, and millions of trees." 2.2 Earths worth of trees, we hope.

> Closer to home, you can get ready to ride your bike to work with these tips. Going out for sushi (on your bike)? Don't forget this wallet-sized list of seafood you should avoid. Oh, and: pack a lunch! Take-out litter generates 1.8 million tons of trash every year in the U.S.

Things We Like: April 2008

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 12:13pm
A monthly roundup of our favorite nonprofit tech resources. Read more posts on our blog.
  1. 42 Ways Not To Make Trash. We believe No Impact Man may be the reincarnation of Too Much Coffee Man.
  2. Soocial promises to manage your address book across your computers, mobile phones, even Gmail. Their demo movie uses vintage Knight Rider clips. What is it with Europeans and David Hasselhoff?
  3. Facebook's new "Insider's Guide to Viral Marketing". As one wag puts it, "First they ban you from spamming your friends, then they tell you how to do it."
  4. WaterSaver Technology's AQUS: Flush your toilet with waste water from your sink! Without using a bucket!
  5. Blog It promises to update all your blogs from within Facebook.
  6. TeachStreet. We like the concept of linking students to teachers. The Beta is limited to Seattle, which explains the beer making and How to Use Microsoft classes.
  7. The Sea Level Rise Explorer uses the Google Maps terrain feature. Looks like Portland won't get too wet...
  8. Salesforgle. OK, we made that up, but the integration between and Google Apps shows great promise.
  9. Tired of wearing the same clothes everyday? Use Rehash to swap with others -- everything from "Cute Black Top" to "Faux Snakeskin Eyeglass Case" -- rather than buying new.
  10. "Rebooting America: Democracy in the 21st Century". There's still time to submit your own work for inclusion in the anthology.

Looks Like We Got Us a Great Big Convoy

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 9:03am

Flickr Photo: zombophotoI do a lot of traveling and talk to lots of people about social media and why I think it matters for nonprofits. I give a good twenty minutes about how the ground has shifted under our feet and social media is aligned with our current values as a society and a sector. It's one of those 10,000 feet view sorts of things.

And while I think that most people really appreciate the context, I can practically HEAR them thinking as I talk, "Yeah, but how the heck do I actually figure this stuff out?"

I usually give a few pieces of advice and then start showing off the tools that matter most to me. Now I have some new sources of inspiration for my talks. Chris Brogan has a great post today that consists almost entirely of questions:

  • What were your first steps into social media?
  • Who were your early people you admired and followed?
  • How did you get started?
  • If you were going to give advice to someone starting out, what would you tell them?
  • What will you do in the next few months with social media?

There are dozens of comments with answers already, and they reveal some pretty great advice to folks who are currently wondering how to get started with social media. A few of the points come up again and again:

Wiki for President

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 4:58pm

Flickr Photo: savolskertsonNo matter which side of the political aisle you sit on, there's no doubt that social media is having a big impact on this presidential race. We even dedicated a whole newsletter issue to the topic.

My favorite stories are the ones that don't actually involve the campaigns. I love hearing about ordinary citizens starting up FaceBook groups or MySpace pages for their candidates, making democracy their own.

The latest example to come to my attention? for Obama. No endorsement of candidates here, just sheer admiration for Jo and Michelle for taking the reigns of democracy into their own hands and empowering others by using a wiki.

It gives me hope on days when Hillary, Barack, and John all film spots for a WWE episode instead of debating.

Send Your E-Newsletter for Free

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 2:28pm

VerticalReponse used to offer a 15% discount to qualified nonprofits -- and they still do.  But now, the first 10,000 e-mails you send through VR each month will be free! You can read all about in on their web site and blog.

NTEN uses VerticalResponse for App Exchange to send out our monthly newsletter, NTEN Connect, and we've been generally pleased with its performance.  I suspect the price break will only increase our level of satisfaction.

Social Media Has Feelings Too

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 8:59am

Flickr Photo: Capt KodakIt's not about the technology, it's about the people.

You are not marketing, you are building community.

In case you need to remind yourself, or others, of these principles, check out Twistori. It's a perfect example of what social media is all about: people. It exposes the humanity that makes social media so powerful -- our love, our hate, our thoughts, our beliefs.

The next time you're thinking about how to get your message out in social media, visit Twistori. Then think about how you can help inspire, motivate, and excite the people in your community instead.