Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday bits and pieces

Is it redundant to post small bits and pieces of thoughts on a blog since so much of what gets blogged is small bits anyway? That asked, here are a few "bits and pieces*" of philanthropy thoughts to start your week:


New Report on Community Foundations and Social Media
The Future Matters report "Community Philanthropy and Social Media" report has been loaded to the website (The futures project site for On The Brink of New Promise). It was striking to me, as we were getting this report ready for posting, to watch this blog discussion on foundations and community networks unfold over at the SocialText blog.

The Olympics and the blending of the Sectors
I often write about the re-arranging (some call it blending) of public, private and philanthropic roles. Watching the Olympics with my seven year old I realized they are a remarkable crucible from which to discuss this phenomenon. Here are his questions:
  • "Why are the basketball players from the US men's team so famous already?"
  • "Why do they keep talking about how much money Michael Phelps is going to make?"
  • "Why did they say the government was going to pay her so much money?" (Asked after the Korean weighlifter won gold and blew the world record out of the room by lifting 186 kg)
  • "What will Yulianti do when she goes back home to Indonesia? (After winning bronze in women's singles, badminton)
  • "Why do they tell us where all those women went to college?" (Asked as the U.S. 8 women crew team was at the start for its 2000 meter final)
  • "When I grow up I want to be on the Olympic triathlon team. For India."
And our attempted answers:
  • Because they are all professionals - they get paid to play basketball in this country.
  • Because this is the full extent of what Bob Costas and Mary Carillo know anything about.(Snarky, I know, but could we please get hosts who aren't so insipid?)
  • Because in some countries the government pays for athletes, in this country sneaker and cereal companies pretty much take care of it.
  • I don't know. Let's go get some information - as compared to listening to Costas and Carillo for one more second.
  • Because a lot of people learn to row and get really good at it while they are in college.
  • Great! You'll have to become a citizen of India (and get really good at swimming, etc...).....(this one went on for a long time).
My point, and I do have one, is that the Olympics, which folks my age and older might remember as synonymous with "amateur sports," have really changed - governments, companies, and television contracts move billions of dollars in and out of the Games, athletes can be amateur/pro, sponsored or not, subsidized or not....It is a collage of public, private roles - you think of a combo and I bet there is an athlete, a country, and a sporting organization that represents that combo.

Games - make your own
Story in today's S.F. Chronicle about games that let players make games. This is right in line with the MacArthur Foundation supported Gamestar Mechanic project from University of Wisconsin and GameLab.**

Blend of the above: Where is the Olympic video game? (or iphone app?) Is there Second Life Olympic coverage?

I'm delighted to be joining the Organization Review Board for the Philanthropy Advisory Services of FasterCures. I've written about their work in the past, and they are coming out of the gate with some very exciting, well-done products that exemplify the ideas for sharing knowledge across the philanthropic revenue stream that I wrote about in 2004.

*How my mind was working this morning (Hat tip to Kyle for the following flow chart):
...bits and pieces --> small things --> blog about giving --> small gifts --> tchotchkes.
(How many of you would have gotten the joke had I called this section tchotchkes? All NYers and Jews put down your hands)

**Usual disclosure: My company works with MacArthur on its DML Program.

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