Wednesday, January 24, 2007

NoCal Grantmakers - with audio

This is a first. I am live blogging a grantmakers conference. Hats off to the folks at Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) for hosting Anil Dash of Six Apart in a workshop called From Podcast to YouTube: Philanthropy, New Media, and Social Change.

Here is the Mp3 -

Workshop leaders include:

Digital Storytelling
Elizabeth Soep, YouthRadio
Ken Ikeda, Bay Area Video Coalition

Text messaging and web-based innovation
Deb Levine, Internet Sexuality Information Services
David Young, Life Portal

E-advocacy and web-based innovation
Taj James, Movement Strategies Center
Jackie Byers, Center for Third World Organizing

Video Gaming and Virtual Worlds
Ellen LaPointe, HopeLab
Susan Tenby, CompuMentor

Ah, workshop on new technology and the old technology barely works - looking for a microphone. Glad to see a very full house here at this workshop on new media and social change. About 100 people in the room, 5 raised hands when asked "who has a blog?" Almost all raised hands when asked "do you read blogs?" Dash has been blogging for 8 years. There were 50 blogs when he started and he thought he was late. Now there are 50 million - its not too late.

Anil Dash - co-founder of Six Apart, not so interested in technology but interested in communities and social change. Social media - media that you make. tools for connecting and sharing with people you care about.

Key phrase - 'people you care about.' This is the old saw for any medium choice - who is your audience?

Blogosphere - unnecessary term- we don't have an email-o-sphere, cell-phone-o-sphere, etc.

Three key characteristics of social media that distinguish social media over email. They are persistent, they support annotation, and they are social.

  1. Persistence - you create content and it stays alive over time. Not ephemeral as email or SMS. Email/SMS gets less valuable over time - it disappears when someone leaves [LB comment: hmm, not so much, just ask Mark Foley]
  2. Annotation - the ability to comment on what you have created. Can also tag (categorize) content - the community adds value to the original content.
  3. Social - wide public can get access to it, when they need it. Compares it to the horrors of the 'cc' line on an email. The challenges of whom to include, whom to exclude, what to do when you're cc'd. CC'ing says to someone, "you may need this eventually, you are not important enough to get it directly, but I am going to interrupt you now." Email interrupts and it may not be what you need when you need it. In comparison, blogs, wiki, etc. put the info there for you to use when you need it.

[LB comment] ... on timeframes and multi-tasking. His example: being in a meeting getting interrupted by an email newsletter that breaks his train of thought about the email he was looking for. Most of the audience is of a generation that uses email to be less intrusive than the phone.

He assumes 1) everyone checks email in meetings, 2) blogs are more permanent than email, 3) permanence means what?

Compares grantmakers to VCs. Grantmakers are "kinder" but play a similar role to the VCs. He notes that in Silicon Valley all VCs are blogging - yet these are people who get asked for money all the time. Yet they are becoming 'more open' - what he calls radical transparency - the VC blogs post how to get in touch with them (phone, email, skype, AIM, etc), they explain what they are looking for, why they do what they do, and when and why they say "NO." The VCs do this because it raises the bar on the business plans they receive. Also expands their social networks - they can find the person two contacts away who can make something succeed.

So what for philanthropy?
  • Where is radical transparency motive in philanthropy? [that is a rhetorical question]
People fear uncontrolled element of social media. What are the credentials of the person speaking/blogging? This is evolving over time - we are starting to realize that everyone in the organization has an opinion and can be a spokesperson for the organization. Everyone can also be a documentary photographer - simply by carrying their cell phone.

So what for philanthropy?
  • You have to be willing to cede some of the control - you can't control who will communicate what message.
What is in the social media? Its not all text. Its video (YouTube) and annotations (digg and Also need to think about these as communications channel - how do you do something and document it in a good enough way that it will get recommended and the people who need it can find it? These recommendation engines are third party channels to the old communications systems, which assumed you just sent what you had to whoever needs it.
So what for philanthropy?
  • Social media is massively 'edited' - through the recommendations/tagging process. The world can register its opinion of what you are doing. Now that is new for institutional philanthropy - feedback channels. Check out the widgets from DonorsChoose in which case individuals can re-post to their own blogs the gifts they've made at DonorsChoose.
  • Also notes that interplast uses its website to get public opinion about what they should do better.
  • [LB Comment] I'd be willing to make a donation to an organization of the foundation's choice if a grantmaking foundation puts up a blog with a link, "What should we be doing better?" Email me if you do this.
  • Modestneeds. From one person's ideas to a community of giving in a matter of weeks/months.
Point of personal clarification. He's often referred to as an evangelist of blogging. He prefers to think of himself as a witness.

Great talk. Thanks, Anil.

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