Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Alternative interpretations

As if maintaining this blog weren't enough, I've jumped on the Medium bandwagon. You can find my stories here, the Lab's posts here, and a publication called The Development Set here.

Here's a piece I wrote about how the discussions about the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative might have played out had the announcement been covered accurately by the press.

Follow up your read of that with Tom Watson's piece from The Chronicle of Philanthropy and I think you'll agree that the social economy and all that it portends - as I've been writing about in the Blueprint series since 2010 - has arrived

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The digital rights agenda for civil society

As always, talking with smart people makes me smarter. Last week at lunch Henry Timms asked, "What is it, Lucy? What is the digital rights agenda for civil society?" Since it's Henry, I knew I needed a sharp, pithy answer (preferably tweetable).

"Three things matter most, Henry. Consent, privacy, and openness."

Since lunch is over, here's some more on that answer.

The three principles:

1. Consent
(icon from http://sagebase.org/pcc/participant-centered-consent-toolkit/)

2. Privacy

3. Openness.

Here's a 15 minute video about these ideas.

More information on these three principles is on the digitalIMPACT.io website.

And the Stanford Digital Civil Society Lab works to help activists, nonprofits, and foundations work in alignment with these principles and to the connect digital rights and civil society policy and scholarship.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Nonprofits, data, and privacy

How would you react if you had to include your social security number alongside your name and address on charitable donations you made so that the nonprofit could then report that information as part of its public filings?

Let me guess...you'd say no way. That can't be safe. It can't be a good idea either for me to transmit that info or to think the nonprofit could store it or transmit it to the IRS safely.*

Which is why it's a really good thing that a coalition led by the National Council on Nonprofits convinced the IRS to step back from a proposal asking for just that.

This is a big deal and a "tip of the iceberg" moment for nonprofits and foundations and donors - in other words, all of us - to think hard about the massive amounts of digital data that flow through nonprofits.

Nonprofits can't be expected to manage information like that securely.  They're underresourced as it is, every time they turn around someone else is yelling at them about the money they spend on administrative costs and not on mission, and, oh by the way, big companies and the US government can't keep that kind of data safe, you really think a small community organization can?

There are lots of other issues about data security and ethical use out there. I'm hoping this success - on which the sector stood together - will help bring digital governance issues to the forefront. The digitalIMPACT.io site is designed to help address them - check it out here and be in touch if you have resources to share.

*Focusing just on data security issues. Says nothing about those who give anonymously and hope to keep it that way.

Yes! More Philanthropy Forecasting

InsidePhilanthropy has just published its 2016 philanthropy forecast. Check it out

Ever since 2010 when I first published the Blueprint I've been hoping others would set their minds to discussing trends and near-term futures. So glad to see InsidePhilanthropy doing so.

And here are some Development Forecasts (H/T @gquaggiotto) https://www.bond.org.uk/development-predictions-2016

From Philanthropy NW

And some digital rights predictions - critical issues for civil society

Wait, wait, there's more! Here are some civic tech predictions:

Are there other philanthropy, social economy, digital civil society trend reports, forecasts out there? Let m know - I'll link them here.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Digital civil society requires analog civil society action

This video from the Open Society Foundations sums up the promise and peril of digital data, infrastructure, and governance to civil society. It is no coincidence that threats to civil society are increasing as we become more digitally dependent
"Solidarity between the online blogger and the gay rights activist, between the NGO that's getting shut down and the social movement that's turning out on the streets. Because although those actors might look and think that they're different from each other, what they have in common is they're all manifestations of our right to organize and mobilize..."
            Danny Sriskandarajah
            Secretary General and CEO

Yes, we can use digital tools to expand free expression and assembly; yes, these tools can be used to expand the voices we hear and participation by many. But civil society actors - in the US specifically - are fooling themselves if they think that digital tools are innately and always democratizing.

Civil society actors - in the US this means nonprofits and foundations as well as social movements, protestors, and activists - must protect the right and capacity to organize online, to express oneself and assemble peaceably outside of government or corporate control in digital spaces, if we are to maintain that right and capacity offline.

The digital rights agenda is civil society's agenda.