Platforms for action

I founded the company I run to help people use data and information in making their philanthropic decisions. I'm a big fan of good information.

This interest is why I actually pay attention to technology, intellectual property, and graphic design. I think efforts like policymap and the Pakistan Earthquake 05 Wiki are worth checking out. It is why Senator Obama's promises about government data matter to me, specifically:

"Making government data available online in universally accessible formats to allow citizens to make use of that data to comment, derive value, and take action in their own communities."
It is why this paper, Acting Wikily, from Gabriel Kasper and Diana Scearce is worth a read - though in my humble opinion they should have titled it "Working Wikily." (If you're going to make up jargon at least be alliterative about it!)


Lisa Ranghelli, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy said...

The 'Acting Wikily' report offers many exciting examples of the use of networking technologies to achieve social change. I wonder about their relevance for grassroots organizing in low-income communities in the US. The report doesn't talk about whether and how these new networking technologies are being used, if at all, by these kinds of groups and communities. Most of the domestic examples seem to involve the networking of professionals. Are organizers and leaders in the inner city mobilizing people through their cell phones? What percentage of low-income folks have access to computers and the skills to take advantage of their networking capacity? To what extent can/should these technologies play a role in low-income organizing? Can they add value to the hard work of face-to-face relationship building? It seems like there are some strong class assumptions built into the report. I would love to see a commentary from an organizer on the relevance of all this for his/her work in the 'trenches.'

Lucy Bernholz said...

these are great questions - I imagine that someone at NetSquared may know about community organizing or grassroots examples of network technologies...or others? Who out there knows good research or case examples of community networks?

Thanks Lisa for raising these issues...

gabriel kasper said...

From what I understand, there was a great deal of discussion about the use of cell phones as a tool for community organizing at NetSquared this year. The amazing penetration of cell phones, along with the fact that people always have them on hand, make them a perfect tool for getting people information just when they need it (and for allowing folks to contribute in real time). I wasn't able to be at NetSquared, but perhaps someone who was at the conference could add more about this.

Also... in the spirit of "working wikily," we'd like to take Lucy up on her suggestion for the catchier title. We'll be updating the piece with the new, alliterative title, along with a thank you to Lucy for the suggestion. Much appreciated!

Lucy Bernholz said...

I'm tickled; glad to be helpful!

Anyone got more examples of network building/community organizing? I read an interesting piece in The Atlantic about Barack Obama's fundraising success and how it draws from his experience as a community organizer and the whiz-kid tech nature of his silicon valley supporters - the article is here The Amazing Money Machine