Monday, June 01, 2009

Serialized thinking

I have been writing this blog since 2002. There are 000s of posts here. I'm looking for the right editor and publisher to work with me to turn some of this content into serialized pamphlets - separate book chapters if you will. I envision a series of short pieces* - each no longer than 20-25 pages - that would focus on and refine each of the themes I've been writing about: innovation in philanthropy, the role of information and data, new structures for giving, technology and philanthropy, indicators and measures of change, and meaningful trends in public problem solving.

The site, Beyond Good Intentions, is the moving picture equivalent of what I have in mind. It hosts a series of short films, each one a standalone piece on some type of international aid. Taken together, they are "film chapters" of a "film book" that offers insights on microfinance, social enterprise, disaster relief, research and other related topics. Check it out. BeyondGoodIntentions shows a great understanding of social media as tools for conversation - you can watch the videos on the site, leave comments about them, link to Facebook, MySpace, or YouTube, link to the episodes, meet the filmmaker in a nationwide tour - in other words engage in a number of ways, when and where you want.

These are precisely the characteristics of Internet based social media that make them so valuable - multiple formats, give the user control over time and space, allow people to add their own ideas, share when and what they want.

Of course, there are still some "old fashioned" kinds of social media sharing - such as conversations. Allison Fine has a great post on the value of unthinkable ideas, those thoughts and visions that push on "sacred cows." These are as likely to arise in good old fashioned face to face conversations as they are in the potential anonymity of chat rooms and comment boards. I'd argue that the conversations that push on "sacred cows" and that might actually turn into joint action need the kind of trust, relationships, and time that can be facilitated by online tools but still need some sort of personal connections.

It is my belief that the conversations we find most challenging need to be had both online and off, with those we know well and to whom we have joint obligations and responsibilities (think of your fellow board member, for example), as well as those we know best by their twitter picture. This is why I'm planning the pamphlet series - to provide hard copy, engaging, short and provocative pieces that board members can share with each other, staff colleagues might pass around, donors would bring to their advisers and vice-versa when they are ready to slow down, think about, talk about, and (I hope) act on new philanthropic structures, trends in giving, social innovation, and measures that matter.


Allison Fine said...

This is all such good stuff, Lucy, can't wait to see what emerges. Hey, what about monograph series instead of pamphlet? There will be a lot of important content that you're sharing, it deserves a moniker with same gravitas.

Lucy Bernholz said...

Gravitas is us! Love the word monograph - will use it in the pitch. Thanks!