Four more "short thoughts" - will be back with more.
1) Foundations and social media
I'm participating in some very interesting discussions and watching some experiments on this. It's always important to stay up on what Beth Kanter is talking about in this regard, and her report from the CEP conference is one of the best. It's almost time for me to check back in with the good folks at the @IrvineFdn on their experiments. I'm also intrigued by the crowdsourcing effort that Natan is undertaking. For a new media initiative they've asked the community to help design the application process itself. Take a look here.
Now funders are opening up all kinds of things, but the actual design of the application process? That one was new to me. I asked Felicia Herman, Executive Director of Natan, "what are you trying to do here?" She said:
"...we recognize that we are by no means new media experts, and that the field - practitioners, theorists, investors, and users - might have greater insight into how best to solicit (and instigate?) quality new media initiatives. We also recognize that the contours of this field demand a new way of doing our philanthropic business. Opening the design process up to external inputs is one of the ways we're trying to do business differently, as is having a briefer application review process (which responds better to the fast pace of change in this field than our usual process) and a much briefer, different application "form" (which tries to even the playing field between people who are used to applying to foundations for grants and people - especially new media entrepreneurs - who are not)."
Should be interesting to see what Natan learns and how they use it. Go add your ideas to their efforts - we'll all benefit. On another note about Jewish Social Media - check out the Fulcrum Project a crowdsourced repository of media uses/experiments for Jewish community building.
2) I'm fascinated by the Digital Public Library of America. Not only do I think a digital public library is much needed, but the dynamic between the public resource effort to create this and the private sector efforts driven by Google offers a real-time case study of the hybrid social economy in which we now live.
The folks behind the DPLA, which is being coordinated by Berkman Center at Harvard, demonstrated their thorough commitment to public input when I, a complete unknown to them, tweeted an idea I had after reading about the DPLA in The New York Review of Books (here and here) and The New York Times (here and here). My tweet had to do with crowdsourcing the search for "authors of orphan works," a wonky issue of great importance for digital book efforts. A small number of twitter followers responded saying they thought the idea had merit.
That was enough encouragement for me to email Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian at Harvard, head of the project. He soon put me in touch with the staff person in charge, who pointed me to the wiki and group listserv Voila! just like I had shared my idea, people responded, I reached the right decision makers, and I was welcomed to participate more (which, sadly, I haven't had time to do).
That's what this is about - ideas can come from anywhere. Newspaper articles spark thinking which spark conversations which spark more ideas which are then shared by social networks and put to use. Think about how that flow of information, ideas, outsiders, insiders works in your world.
3) The Omidyar Network Executive Forum (ONEF)
I've been invited to attend and blog/tweet from the Omidyar Network's Executive Forum this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, May 17-18. Because of scheduling conflicts (SSIR Webinar, May 17th 11:00 am pst) and participation in the annual meeting of the League of California Community Foundations (May 18, San Diego) I"ll only be at ONEF Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. That said, I'm excited to share what I learn and what this incredible portfolio of organizations will be discussing. This is a first for me - blogging from a funders' meeting of their partners. In ON's case the portfolio includes nonprofit and commercial enterprises, funded with both grants and investment dollars. The network is both a foundation and an LLC investment company working deliberately and directly across sectors to make social change. I expect plenty of food for the future. If you have questions or thoughts for the companies in the portfolio let me know in the comments - if I can ask them I will.
4) On June 6-7 I'll be speaking at the Personal Democracy Forum.
I am jazzed about this - this is an event I've longed to be a part of. I'll be talking about Open Philanthropy - how foundations/nonprofits can unlock their repositories of data the way the #OpenGov movement has done with public sector data. The information gathered in, created by and used in philanthropy are key resources for social good. We are, can, and should be sharing it more as part of our efforts to improve society.
Another one of the (incredible line up of) speakers at the event this year is Jay Rosen from NYU. I saw this exchange on Twitter yesterday (Read the bottom first, from the staff of the PdF conference, then Jay's response is on top):
I thought to myself, "Yep, this is how ideas move these days. Public discussions to conferences to audiences to speakers to outsiders to insiders and connecting discussions across time and space - they are all weaving together."