I've posted two pieces in the last few days that seem to have struck some nerves. And those whose nerves were struck seem to be too nervous to post their comments.
The first such post was this one, called Google Recommends, in which I noted that Google was sending searchers who typed in "Myanmar relief" directly to a page with two nonprofits, Google Checkout-assisted donation services, on it. This changed within a day or so, but I used the post to ask the following questions (among many others):
- How many hits did that site get?
- How many clicks went through to those organizations?
- How much money was given?
- How did Google pick those two organizations?
- Does using Google Checkout influence where your organization appears in Google search lists?
- Does Google.org work with Google.com on creating opportunities like this? On picking the featured aid partners?
My read: They don't want to draw attention to their organizations while asking these questions.
The second post to catalyze this kind of "silent commentary" was this one, titled A Must Read, in which I highly recommend Raj Patel's book Stuffed and Starved but mostly share my own disgust and disgrace at the recent venue for the Council on Foundation's Philanthropy Summit. Here is an excerpt of why I found the venue choice so upsetting:
Again, several emails came in from people, most of whom I know to have been at the conference, agreeing with me, cheering the post and so on. But they email me so as not to put a public comment out there - even anonymously.
"...I've done little but complain about my own sense of hypocrisy of holding this event at a venue clearly designed to exacerbate sprawl, to divert business from inner city communities, and to serve as a spectator venue for one of the eastern sea board's biggest traffic bottlenecks, the Woodrow Wilson bridge. To stand in a four story tall open space and observe the outdoors through a glass wall the size of a football field while lighted fountains waste water and power for the sake of amusement, the air conditioning runs at full tilt, and security guards stand at every elevator entrance was an assault on my senses, which I shared with everyone I spoke to. To then attempt to hold meaningful discussions about global warming or community development was excruciating to me."
Guy Kawasaki recently wrote a magazine article titled "Blog-A-Thon" for which the 24 point font pullout quote reads: "If you can't speak your mind on your own blog, you might as well give up and stay on the porch."
So let me say to all of you who have quietly joined me on the porch, about either or both of these posts - I'll keep your identities to myself (I get it, really I do). Please feel free to comment here or on the other posts with your name, anonymously, or with a pseudonym. Or go ahead, join me here on the porch.