News from the NTEN Connect Blog

NTEN Member on the Record About Getting Started with Social Media

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 12/17/2007 - 7:10am

Continuing my recent theme of sharing the advice NTEN members have for nonprofits who are wary about jumping into the seas of social media for their causes, I want to point out Michele Martin's post on her blog, The Bamboo Project.

It offers initial steps an organization can try within the comfort zone of its own network: its staff.

Evolving Tools for Your OrganizationEvolving Tools for Your OrganizationIt makes sense that the best reason anyone has for learning and using a new tool is that it makes his/her life easier or better.

When organizations look at social media tools as a new obstacle rather than a tool, they're naturally going to be wary of them. If they can turn those perceived obstacles into useful components of their professional lives, they'll end up leveraging them for their causes with confidence -- and maybe even gusto -- rather than with fear.

Michele not only explains which tools (blog, wiki, a social network) an organization can employ internally, but great applications for them like project management and staff training resources. Check it out!

NTEN Member on the Record to Address "Social Engineering" on the Web

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 12/14/2007 - 2:17pm

Last week, I pointed to Britt Bravo's blog post encouraging nonprofits to confront their fear of blog comments. But another NTEN member, Marnie Webb of CompuMentor, brings up some important points in the NonprofitTimes that nonprofits should consider when navigating the new terrain of the social web.

The topic of "social engineering" affects organizations whether they've launched a communications plan using the social web or not because, as Webb puts it, "whether they give their employees permission to or not, [the employees] have social networking sites."

This can be a good thing -- and usually is -- because it's likely that the staff members of a nonprofit organization believe in the cause and will be natural mouthpieces for the mission. But in some cases, as the article points out, there's the potential for sensitive information being released and, depending on the nature of the issue or cause, exploited, even harmfully.

Like Bravo, Webb thinks that nonprofits don't need to fear the social web -- but she offers some good tips in the article to help organizations avoid problems and stay in control.

Tonk'peh Spock

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 12/14/2007 - 1:46pm

I sat down at my desk this morning only to discover at least a dozen invitations to "trust" my colleagues over at Spock.com. According to their site:

Spock is a search application that organizes information around people. The Spock vision is to create a search result of everyone in the world.

Of course, instead of working on my next workshop presentation, I immediately spent the next 45 minutes engaged in ar'kadan -- poking around and adding tags to my profile. I can't tell you how useful this tool may or may not end up being, but it certainly had a Vulcan death grip on my attention. (Cue laugh track.)

Have you tried Spock.com? What do you think?

NTEN member (and board member) Michelle Murrain shared an opinion on the Information Systems Forum last week:

Spock does seem interesting in that it uses "trust" rather than "friend" or "connection" as the metaphor for its social graph. This might actually make it more useful - I imagine people are much less likely to put people they don't really know in their "trust" network on Spock, whereas there is a real range of opinion about how well you need to know someone to get to be their "friend" on Facebook.
But what's "missing" (deliberately?) are messaging systems and groups. This means that it's not so useful for advocacy or fundraising as Facebook.

Oh - and hat tip to the Vulcan Language Dictionary. "Tonk'peh" translates to "Hello".

NTEN Member on the Record About Blog Comments

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 12/14/2007 - 12:19pm

One of the big concerns organizations have when considering branching out with new social media tools is that the channels flow in more than one direction.

Blogs are a habit for most of us in this nptech community -- reading them, writing them, and commenting on them -- but for organizations just starting out, comments on blogs can cause enough fear to throw up road blocks.

But, as NTEN member Britt Bravo puts it, "Has anyone ever died from a blog comment?"

Change.org and Network for Good Team Up

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 12/13/2007 - 4:28pm

Integration. The word comes up again and again when we talk about social media strategies: Your email campaign needs to integrate with your direct mail campaign which needs to integrate with your web site which needs to integrate with your Facebook group.

That's why it's so interesting that the little social networking site that could -- Change.org -- and Network for Good are partnering up. Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 will live side by side in perfect harmony.

This could be great for Change.org, Network for Good, and the sector at large. Here's why:

Facebook Should Give You a T-Shirt

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 12/13/2007 - 4:08pm

New York Times technology correspondent Saul Hansell recommends trying the following exercise:

  • Search for "lawyers" on Google. Take a look at the ads on the right side.
  • Now, search for "malpractice".
  • Finally, search for "lawyers" again. Notice the change in the ads.

As Mr. Hansell notes, this limited implementation of behavioral targeting isn't too bad:

"So far this is largely harmless. It’s hard to imagine any violation that comes from Google having access to what you did 30 seconds before. What’s interesting is what comes next. As Google moves to place advertising on sites like MySpace, which have no natural advertisers, there is ever more pressure for it to use other sources of information to raise the prices at which it can sell those ads."

This is precisely the morass Facebook waded into with their creepy Beacon advertising program. The NYT has a great blow-by-blow of the changes Facebook has made to Beacon over the past 5 weeks, highlighting its slow acceptance of the privacy issues inherent to behavioral targeting.

The Year of the Mobile Phone

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 12/13/2007 - 2:39pm

New York Times technology columnist -- and 2008 NTC Plenary speaker -- David Pogue thinks next year will be the year of the mobile phone:

"...if you think there was a lot of cellphone news this year, you ain't seen nothin' yet. The coming year is going to be the real Year of the Cellphone."

Mr. Pogue charts two big shifts -- in 3 parts -- with implications for nonprofit technology: increased openness from carriers and greater push-back from a fed-up public. On Google's new Android platform, he says:

"It's open source, meaning that programmers all over the world can improve it and expand it. If all goes well, Android-compatible cellphones will become little miracle machines, capable of running all kinds of cool new programs that we can't even imagine today, regardless of carrier... Nobody knows what's going to happen with Android, but it's guaranteed to shake things up. Should be an interesting ride."

With Android and Apple's (admittedly closed for the moment) iPhone leading the charge, nonprofits will be able to use mobile devices in unimagined ways to engage and activate their constituents -- people already looking for more flexibility and functionality from their cell phones.

For more information on using mobile phones to encourage social change, be sure to visit MobileActive.

Do You Know Some Great Nonprofits?

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 12/13/2007 - 12:19pm

Perla Ni, former publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, has launched a new site that aims to be the Zagat guide for Nonprofits. Great Nonprofits has already been profiled in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, where Ms. Ni says, "When's the last time you bought a book from Amazon and didn't read the customer reviews? This site provides that: peer reviews, from honest people, about whether [the charities] are making an impact."

Customer and peer reviews have contributed greatly to the success of Amazon and Ebay, but have been arguably less successful detached from actual products: according to Alexa, epinions.com has a traffic rank above 2000, whereas Ebay and Amazon are both in the top 50. It will be interesting to see if the focus on nonprofits will enable Great Nonprofits to succeed.

Currently, Great Nonprofits has a limited number of reviews on fewer than 100 organizations, but Ms. Ni is aware of the challenge ahead: "This is going to be a long process. It takes time to build people's awareness of this, especially in the nonprofit sector, where you're serving people that are hard to reach."

Perhaps you can help them grow.

America's Giving Challenge: Web 2.0 Philanthropy Style

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 12/12/2007 - 8:44pm

Here's the thing about Web 2. 0 and social media tools: it may all seem like a bunch of hype, but when foundations begin championing the cause, you have to start paying attention.

Today, PARADE magazine and the Case Foundation announced America's Giving Challenge: Get your supporters to install and promote a charity badge for your organization, and you could get $50,000. From the press release:

The program aims to show how anyone and everyone can have greater impact in their community and bring more support to the charities and causes they care about. Participants can choose to use a simple and fun Web 2.0 tool called a “charity badge” to promote their cause and help their charity get $50,000. Or they can simply give to a cause to help it qualify for a $1,000 award. The America’s Giving Challenge runs from 3:00 p.m. EST on December 13, 2007 through 3:00 p.m. EST on January 31, 2008...To sign up for America’s Giving Challenge, beginning 3:00 p.m. EST, December 13, 2007, simply visit www.Parade.com/givingchallenge.

You Knew Blogging Would Get You a Job Someday

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 12/12/2007 - 2:40pm

While we don't normally promote job opportunities in the NTEN blog, this one seems like it might be tailor-made for one of our community members.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is looking for an Online Community Manager:

Play a key role in creating a vibrant online discussion community for Knight Foundation and shape it into the premier digital presence focused on journalism excellence, communities and systemic, transformational change. Help establish the foundation as the leading provocateur for community transformation in the digital age. This position serves as Knight’s eyes, ears and - in cooperation with other Knight staff - voice in the blogosphere.
Read the full listing on the NTEN Jobs Board.  Let us know if you get it!