Friday, February 17, 2012

Buzzwords 2012.1 and 2012.2 Data and Flash Mob Philanthropy

February already? Time to get buzzwords 2012.1 and 2 up and out.

Buzzword 2012.1 - Data

Data are everywhere. And talk about data - big, open, mined, as an asset, as something to protect - is going to be everywhere in 2012. Here's the New York Times on Big Data. Here are five trends that will shape data. Here is an example of Big Data for Good. You can even get a Big Data t-shirt (HT @tkb)

Here is an excerpt from my Blueprint 2012 on data - which I focused on as the 3rd of 3 big shifts shaping the social sector: 
"We are only at the beginning of learning how to use data well for social purposes. Following are some examples of ways data are being used by the social economy.

For organizing. [read more]

As avenues for news.

To improve nonprofit work.

In measurement and evaluation.

For philanthropic reporting.

There is another level at which data matter in the social economy. More than just an instrument of change, some data are also public goods. Consider all of the data collected over the years by government agencies – anonymous, massive datasets on our collective health, wealth, education, demographic makeup, and so on. Public access to these public data sets is driving major policy changes and major public technology investments. But what about the public value of a privately held dataset? If online searches can be aggregated and analyzed in such a way as to predict a pandemic or provide ground level reporting on a terrorist attack is the data a public resource or a private company asset?

Many people who use social networks or otherwise post information online have asked questions such as: who owns the information, what can they do with it, and how do I keep something private? We confront these questions frequently with companies like Facebook or LinkedIn and they also pertain to the data held by the Department of Motor Vehicles, tax authorities, and public health departments.  One place where these questions are already coming to the fore is in medical research. It is clear that large data sets of information about individuals are very helpful to researchers, holding the key, for example, to medical breakthroughs. But the information within those data sets connects back to real people. Balancing personal privacy with the public good that can be generated from aggregated information will be a defining legal and social question in the next decades.

The current legal structures that define charitable activities or that privilege certain public goods with tax exemptions say nothing about data. They say nothing about any public good created digitally – such as open source software used for emergency response. They also say nothing about access to these resources. Is access to the digital world a right for all citizens or a privilege for those who can pay? There are many organizations of all kinds – political, commercial, and charitable – working on these issues. However, enterprises in the social sector have yet to recognize the stake they have in these questions and in the rules that will define how data assets are valued as public goods. And the stake is huge."
(You can buy the Blueprint 2012 here. Get a new toolkit that includes both Blueprint 2011 and Blueprint 2012, a ready-to-go slide deck presentation, video, and facilitator's Guide from the Council of Michigan Foundations.)

This headline from Fast Company, Why Big Data won't Make You Smart, Pretty or Rich, leads to an article worth reading.

Buzzword 2012.2 - Flash Mob Philanthropy

We will be organizing our own good deeds in 2012. Not just on behalf of organizations or their issues but without organizations. On behalf of causes we care about. Count on it. Crowdsourced organizing, funding and volunteering, on the fly. That's what I call Flash Mob Philanthropy.

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