Tuesday, April 28, 2009

09NTC Notes From 04/28/09 PM: The Rational Pursuit of Change

The Rational Pursuit of Change: How the Web requires new tactics, not the evolution of current ones
04/28/09 PM

The Internet has a proven ability to shift the balance of power between individuals and organizations. But for online activism to reach its full potential, we – and our constituents and supporters – need to go beyond low-hanging, traditional online tactics. It’s time to go back to basics and figure out how to effectively organize. This session will revisit the challenges of collective action in an era of “open source activism,” and highlight how the Web can help overcome those hurdles. It's up to us to redefine how people can participate in movements that actually do something. Takeaways: 1. Engagement: The paradox of tactics (such as "easy petitions") with a low barrier to entry – they don't drive engagement or long-term relationships. Learn how to engage people that stick around to support your mission. 2. Action: Giving people the right tools at the right time only matters if you ask them to do the right thing. Learn solutions for moving your audiences forward on a unified front towards a shared goal. 3. Togetherness: The dream of the Web is a model maps our influence and values to appropriate collective action that has reached its tipping point. Learn the best ways to crowdsource your mission and measure progress toward your goals.

Twitter hashtags (the internet went down about 1/2 way through session, so this is limited):

Qi Diaz, Ben Ratcher, Amy Sample Ward, Jake, Joe

this is a fun and lively group
-digital advocacy, civics 101 is just not cutting it anymore

the history of online activism is the history of petitions

ladder of engagement, getting the right data, encouraging deeper engagement, recognizing the psychological impact of getting involved

from Amy:
insights on individual engagement, she's been paying attention to how individually powered/centered tools are impacting organizations and informing the way they engage with their members and peeps

sms and text messaging used for service delivery. for example, a short code for contacting an AIDS nonprofit for information

open source community need- the good gym, won the social innovation camp in December in the UK

really focus on the "how do you want us to engage with you?" model

orgs can really be empowering to change-makers around the world. take the wiki model for example- gets that one guy going strong, coordinates the community so that we have the strength of a crowd and a groundswell

"the world is on fire, there are 7 billion people, we all need some help, and we are all in this together"
started the social actions, change the web contest for/with techsoup

they used polldaddy to listen as they worked on their project, and they had a volunteer wiki- simple tools, useyourvoice.com - you can create a feedback button in a snap for your website, very cool

Jake (from idealist)
he loves Larry Lessig & Vince Cerf
Vince: "power corrupts, and powerpoint corrupts absolutely"

too many nonprofits, and too many actions going on- especially a bunch that kind of suck to engage with
think like a movement- lose control of your brand- send it and see what folks do with it

US Marines ethos: "everyman a rifle man" as in you have evangelists and advocates you don't even know about yet, top-down, bottom up emerges when you let your control go

ignore the online and offline divide, look at all of the programs together, and get the staff in the same rooms together.

email and videos still rule

"fail harder" (he credits W+K's lobby poster)

09NTC Notes From 04/28/09: New Video Platform for Nonprofits

This was awesome, but I only caught the tail end of the session:

session description:
New Video Platform for Nonprofits
See3 will unveil its partnership with Kaltura to address the video needs of nonprofits and social causes. Join Michael Hoffman, See3 CEO, and Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura CEO, for a discussion and demo of the cutting-edge open-source video platform. This new platform integrates with Drupal and other content management systems , allows users to upload video directly from other sources such as YouTube, and has increased viral distribution capabilities. We’ll also walk through the web-based video editor and other advanced functionalities that help organizations connect to constituents. Come share your video needs , give feedback, and witness a hands-on demonstration of this exciting video opportunity.

See3 video stuff

um, rad!

online video editing
Kaltura: http://corp.kaltura.com/
"open source video solutions"

remixamerica.org, dogooderTV, See3 communications,

dogooderTV player

customized playlist module, creates a widget you can make

highly customizable, many applications being built and developed,

quality goes to HD, total flexibility, compress down to FLD after uploading by FTP

you could create an FTP option! you could RSS videos that are already uploaded at other sites, and even have it auto grab from feeds

webcam capture quality is pretty good- on par with youtube

integrate in Drupal & Wordpress- and can configure to have users be able to post both text and video responses!

this also allows a good way to restrict content

internal audiences solutions

creating a private space is successful here

Kaltura has enlisted See3 to be their big channel to the nonprofit world- ambassador, service that gets it to the folks. they specialize in nonprofit video production

09NTC Notes From 04/28/09: Multivariate Testing

When you want your buttons pushed: How to optimize your site with multivariate testing

session description:
Ever wonder if your site’s landing pages are too long, donate button is too small, or images are sending just the right message? This session will provide key insights to help you decide whether it’s time for your organization to begin optimizing key action pages with multivariate testing. Stop making decisions by committee or letting the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) lead the way and start making choices through solid evidence based on your own users’ actual behavior – the results might surprise you! Takeaways: 1. MVT can help you dramatically improve conversion rates. 2. MVT takes the guesswork out of copy, color, location, headline, format, and other key decisions. 3. MVT tests range from fairly simple to highly complex.

-multivariate testing is for when you have many questions about different elements on your page
-ask users in real tim
-generate evidence-driven results based on your users' behavior
-share sample size (get answers more quickly)

Survey of possibilities

-A/B concept testing: better than no testing. problems arise because you have to make assumptions about why users favor something or not

multivariable testing looks at multiple areas on a page at the same time. not just flipping things around, but being able to completely move things around. layout changes, types of content, content itself

content & design are all in the same process

elemental concept testing at Delta
asks: Did we do harm? (with new content)

stop wasting design time, ask does it matter which icon we use? more features or more simple?

offer the beta for people to peruse before launching, may reduce actual changes. you get to understand what matters to your core peeps

the order of copy blocks has substantial impact

moving something like search boxes around the page- does the left-hand side top work best? typically, yes

condense forms by removing non-essential fields (fax #?) always look for opportunities of simplification

sometimes "assurance language" fails (it reminds folks spam exists for example)

images of people tend to have a positive effect when associated with org branding, but some images do not add any value or brand equity to a product.

PHOTOS REALLY REALLY need to be tested.

again, remove distractions (especially on home pages)

some rich media is too much of a distraction, and will carry people off of your site

make a button look like a button. use obvious image metaphors

help people engage, and be very clear about it

interesting & subtle point- understand the interactions- sometimes it's the combination of things on a page that make the difference. if you don't test the items together, then you miss out on good insight

getting started:

1. choose a goal
2. Identify conversion pages
3. select the right tool

lots of different testing tools. google website optimizer is free, starting with free can be really great

case study: ACLU
their goal was grow their list and increase donations, increasing traffic
internal considerations, resourcing, ID highest priorities, IT considerations

design dilemma, when can they use testing to prove out key design concepts
she learned you really have to keep tweaking, changing

09NTC Notes From 04/28/09 AM: Liveblogging Website Usability Testing for Small Orgs

this was really a great tool, but problems arose as the wifi kept failing throughout the entire conference, boooo

Monday, April 27, 2009

09NTC Notes From 04/27/09: Cloud Computing 101

Cloud Computing 101 04/27/09

"Cloud computing is the “new” new wave of information technology. It promises lower costs, faster “time to market,” greater flexibility, and improved efficiency. Some claim it will also help you win friends, lose weight, and freshen your breath. What’s hype versus true value for nonprofits? How much can cloud computing actually deliver? Leading cloud computing experts will lay out the basics, wring fact from fiction, discuss cloud computing’s impact on mission-based organizations, and show how it can work for you. Takeaways: 1. What is cloud computing? 2. Why should nonprofits care about cloud computing? 3. Who are the premier cloud computing vendors? 4. How should nonprofits make the leap into the clouds?"

idealist guys

the term is used and abused quite a bit, and it has it's own meaning in the context on npo's

cloud computing: dynamically scalable resources provided as a service over the internet

"like owning a car vs. leasing a car"

applications, platform, service

context: moving into this environment, so many benefits came up from mainframe to client servers to the cloud platforms
amazon, google, force.com, windowsAzure, facebook, (um wikis)

particularly good cloud services offer open APIs that can be customized and used by others. these APIs act as as doorways between the platforms
successful cloud computing involves APIs, customization

Cloud Computing Costs less because:
-data back ups not required
-access anywhere in the world
-intermingle hardware (mac, PC, linux, etc.)
-intermingle software
-upgrades are automated

Flexibility- scale up & down with mission and org needs, staff needs (pricing models really accommodate this)
Choice- a la carte style service packages
Capacity- skills needed are closer to your mission
Security- more is putting into these platforms to have state-of-the-art security (think like gmail's spam filter)
Upgrades- automated, driven
Ongoing Investment- R&D is driven by many many clients

do your research on a solution and read reviews from objective sources like nten, techsoup, idealware

Does cloud computing replace custom VPN solutions? time to re-evaluate whether or not you own the responsibility for your own server... the whole point is that you don't have to manage, own, or fix the problems with your hardware, software, whole systems really

thousands of nonprofits are already in the cloud. they see a lot using google products

getting into the cloud:

strategic planning
understand your business process
assess your capacity, budget & must-haves
review options, trials, nten, techsoup, idealweare
engage with a partner if/as necessary

business process is really key

cloud-based backup. people love mozy a lot

helps you leverage your IT staff better, put them onto better projects, training, etc. (don't most IT guys hate being sysadmins?) so true that npos are already bare bones when it comes to IT staff & resources

this makes me think about questions about medical health records- HIPPA and security. this will be a huuuuuge issue, especially with current administration wanting to streamline HRE's
so, do we suggest to npo's that they join the cloud rather than invest in their own solutions? start to look at major cloud computing vendors, not sure open source is really getting into this at a fast enough pace: http://www.openhre.org/

cloud vs. outsourcing, hmmmmmm

seems interesting that we haven't talked about open source platforms in the cloud, very product-based? what does this reflect on the open source field?

I think of wikis as ultimate clouds


09NTC Notes From 04/27/09: Nonprofit Careers workshop

04/27/09 Advancing your career & earning what you deserve
James Weinberg- CEO of commongood careers

went to this as a response to all of the unemployment issues we've seen & discussed at work-

Oregon has one of the highest unemployment rates, and the nonprofit sector is going to suffer further jobwise

looking for resources to pass along & add to connectipedia's growing employment section

specific to non profit career information


  • short goals, long aspirations
  • core competency inventory
  • ID & remove common obstacles
  • pursue professional dev
  • moving up internally
  • information interviews to new positions
  • defining market worth & negotiating compensation

and moving from volunteer/intern to employee

short goals/long aspirations:
define your ideal role, where, what X2, when, how, why?

short term:
-challenges: clear, achievable, compelling
-Support: management, resources, staff
-Colleagues: especially in nonprofits, this is key- (um, word!)

long term:

-nature of the work: time, management, area, etc.
-work/life balance: support to life outside the office, family, etc.
-Epitaph: in the end, what do you want to have done? what is your desired impact?

compensation- further discussion later

books participants like: "What Color is your Parachute" Bolles

Core Competencies:
major tenant of HR & hiring- elements that affect your ability to function in a role- as in functionally and behavioral capacity based on 4 factors:
-Skills: technical skills
-Experience: what have you done
-personality: how do you fit with teams and cultures?
-potential: where are you still growing?

create an inventory map for each area, group into categories, prioritize, refine to 3/4 major elements, have friends review & discuss

conclusion- what are the trends, common threads and where are the gaps vs. goals

make sure this is relevant to the job you are going for as well as the career goal

one IT director/HR attendee says that she comes up against too much exaggerated technical skills, and that someone who is humble about skills can show a core personality skill that is more attractive

ID & remove these in your career and short term job issues
what are the common obstacles?
lack of understanding from the org you're in, lack of value in professional dev. don't rely on your org- be the change, flip it, etc.

-planning: failure to identify goals is #1 obstacle
goals usually fall short, shoot higher, push yourself- it breeds success
-confidence: take your goal & triple it
-skills: get through ed or experience
-experience: be proactive in and out of your org
-family: work/life balance
-boss: if not being developed, speak up or move on
(identify needing a mentor or needing to be a leader for me)
-money: ed expensive, next step may require a cut
-networks: broad/deep essential to advancement
-resolve: keep advancing, but stay flexible

seeking out growth experiences could help break down obstacles
(but, sometimes you just have to suck it up and be patient)

professional Dev:
-Grad Programs: expensive, wide range of quality, be careful (too expensive to pursue just for making more $$$)
-workshops: can be expensive, look for certifications, ratings
this can be better than grad school
-self ed: books, online courses, depends on type of learner (I love lynda.com)
"combined with volunteering can help you produce something demonstrable"
-In-house mentors: find colleagues & supervisors that can teach
(this is something I ask for in interviews now) this can be really simple-

-Outside mentors: structured relationships work best
this can be better because they aren't caught up in the culture & drama
-Peer networks: organize colleagues in similar roles
gr8 way to meet folks in the same boat with new ideas
-Management: free interns can be a way to start
#1 looked-for skill for folks considered for advancement. I have found grad interns to be fantastic for projects as well
-Consulting: side project experiential learning
-Volunteering: easier and more flexible alternatives
the point isn't to get a job, but to build experience, core competencies. project-based volunteering can lead to having something demonstrable

Moving Up within an Org
-Valued competencies: management capacity (people, projects, process, budget), performance, passion, initiative, team playing/leading/strengthening
-Being essential: try to understand your org's strategic priorities and align your work directly- move your job in the direction of your org's goals
-Connections: id decision makers and influencers, cultivate relationships, don't be shy- look externally too
-BE DIRECT! communicate your aspirations, build your case, work with your supervisor on a plan for advancement, find horizontal career ladders- which are very possible in small orgs

my personal reflections on this:
have a personal plan and be transparent about it with your company- have a personal mission and vision plan that reflects the org's, and/or develop these for your dept.

Informational Interviewing to New Positions
-systematize: track who you meet, when, who they connect you to
-network mapping: list out folks you know, who they know, who you want to know, cross-section of your industry (social media can be helpful for tracking)
-Outreach: email introduction, with resume, clear that you're not asking for a job, but for information, requesting short phone calls, follow-up if needed
"mini-mentoring" 15-minute mentoring are approaches that can be less intimidating, stressful
-The conversation: research, prepare several smart questions, be engaging, fun, and deferential
never ask, "so, what do you do?"
convo should definitely display critical thinking skills. your Qs say more about you than your answers
-Follow-ups: discuss next steps, ask for others to meet

my reflections:
be comfortable, organic, find that balance so you're not a lame-$@*, watch out for being an email dork

- 3 salary numbers: absolute minimum, market worth, and reasonable aspiration
- Info Interviews: best way to determine market value (ask), highly specific by role, experience, location
- Public Salary Data: industry surveys, guidestar's 990's
- Perspective: for individuals, comp is about respect; for orgs it's about equity & balance (so good to understand)
- Alternatives/x-factors: non-slaray options include benefits, expenses, vacation time, flex time, flex location, flex schedule, other things that matter to you, work-week hours, sabbaticals, perks
understand that compensation is a broad package of values, and know what matters to you
-Approach: honest, clear, logical, supportive data

what to do when asked for salary information:
be honest, but you can frame it in a variety of ways.

how important is the job title you have?
depends on where you are and what you actually do

what to do with bouncy resumes:
use what is relevant, use the other stuff to tell a narrative that could relate

good compensation sites:
glassdoor.org, salary.com, professional organization sites

social networking has opened up the networks- increases competition for the individual, ups the game

Notes From 04/27/09 AM: Social media metrics- mapping social media

04/27/09 Beth Kanter's session
social media metrics- mapping social media

success stories, specialized listening

check out David Armano- his blog

Listen, Learn & Adapt: Insight must happen before investment, track & reap insight

use monitoring tools, RSS, etc.
value- know what people think of and expect of your org
feed hashtag rss to your reader, keywords, etc. real-time search is awesome!
do folks share with others? "not rocket science, just practice."
they create a digest of information for their org & chapters, contact experts about relevant information
Amy uses a delicious account & tags relevant searched articles with key words- helpful to program people
google alerts with keywords, keeps an internal page with those searches in rss
media citation reports- clippings, digests
technorati authority

how much time listening?

2-3 hrs AM concentrated listening, then constant background monitoring
even small npo's should have a half-time person who spends 1/2 of their time just listening/monitoring (10 hrs)
15-20 hrs for a largely online org (concentrated)
Amy uses netvibes- engagejoe- feed digest- ning for dummies- workflow

If you don't try, fail, you don't learn. think like a rocket scientist, document your learnings, sift through qualitative data like an anthropologist.
document on the fly
test & tweak
pick the right metrics
harvest insights
look at what others are doing

*Pick the right social media metric
page views are dead- (HITS- how idiots track success)
engagement metrics: critic, recreating, commenting, connecting, clicking

The Social Organization- Rachel Happe- good resource for lists of social media metrics collecting data with purpose is important, tracking takes time
some folks keep a spreadsheet of data
Yammer- twitter for groups, rather than sharing with one, sharing with many
Amy uses (to share) delicious- send tags to each other, tag "to amy"

story time- using the right metrics to track:
important to measure based on a goal. offer real-time info to the public during a disaster. are people getting info they need? not about $ raised.
-checking for retweets
-ask people to use hashtags, spread stories, engage folks, track mentions & hashtags using hashtags.org
bitly, popurl
Laura Lee Dooley? sp?

url shorteners for metrics?

gradient6, pretty graphics, but manual research is best
boardtracker, icerocket, twitter search, technorati
web stats, FB stats (handmade)
more resources- wearemedia.org, beths blog (listening techniques)
look for ideas that pop up from your peeps, and find the right internal channels to hear about what you are listening to
internal resistance to new tools takes patience, persistence, education

good to ask- how many hours per week do you spend listening? Is this a part of your social media plan?
co-creation networks
ladder of engagement- number of views & engagement
what are people really engaging in? what are they clicking on? when they click, make sure there is really good engagement, fun & reward on the other end of that click- tighten it up, and revisit it periodically

offline data? how to report offline influences, events, components. wildlife has an offline component for everything, and there are mobile components as well, look for blogs that report on related offline events and things

(most stated: tweak constantly!)
Beth recommends- carrie lewis- go friend on FB
of course, be nimble, fail formally, then document that- what worked, what didn't?
you can use APIs very well to integrate to your own sites, campaigns, events
don't keep doing what worked over and over, forever, always evolve, be committed to innovation
explore multiple channels for people to engage & don't think something doesn't work ever just because it wasn't the biggest draw for one instance
although, streamlining your channels can also streamline your investment of time- it's all about finding a balance
LinkedIn turned out to be a time waster for one group, so they dropped it. always tweak your program
"you can't be satisfied, ever!"
there is no secret sauce here either. no one plan fits everyone, duh
Robin from Oregon trail chapter of Red Cross is a great person to watch and learn from
everything can be scaled for global and/or geographically-based groups
if you have internal resistance, find ways around it, but don't try to force people to use tools when it doesn't feel natural for them.
bell curve of adoption in technology is a good thing to be sensitive to. Beth has been writing about it a lot on her blog.

great links:

Beth's blog: http://beth.typepad.com/

Rachel Happe: http://www.thesocialorganization.com/

Yammer: https://www.yammer.com/

Amy Sample Ward's blog/her notes from this session: http://www.amysampleward.org/2009/04/27/live-blogging-09ntc-mapping-your-social-media-strategy/

Twitter real time search results for #09ntc: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%2309ntc

09NTC Notes From 04/27/09: Clay Shirky

4/27/09 Clay Shirky

group action just got easier

"once the problem is solved once for one, it gets solved for all" (FB example of HSBC problem)

the hive mind idea for wikis

here's how it works: not an anthill, there are a few or one super active users, then a few who do extremely little. a huge number of folks who care a little, a few people who care a lot

(I hope Clay Shriky & BJ Fogg are friends)

the ability to consume is the ability to produce is a big big change- democratizing the media, tools, and channels

"we wanna be an internet org, so we'll just take our org and add some internet"

there's no metaphor that fits the particularity-

(FB is like FB, not like other situations, and not "the round")

flash mobs as a critique of hipster culture- Bill from NY/Harper's Magazine

"nothing says dictatorship like arresting people for eating ice cream"

only took 3 years to turn it from a mockery into a real political tool

it's when the tech gets boring that the use gets interesting- when we start to take the tools for granted

thinking your brand is sacred is 20th century mentality in a world of 21st century tools

your members, users, can talk to & connect with each other, without you

the loss of control that your fear is already in the past-

commitment to failure

failure and scale

small and good, then grow, not big and awful to make it better
trying to be too much, not grown organically from the roots up

a control-freak approach makes too much of a framework, hierarchy- implies too many restrictions, so the ability to grow organically, have fun, and learn is all restricted

(side note- google moderator is very cool)

experts really have to create their own value- be relevant, you cant just know most anymore
staying power- how do you stick, and last. convening power plus continuity

sometimes its just a bit mysterious what takes off and what doesn't

hire true enthusiasts, talk to your own employees, your own 23 year olds and actually listen- they are assets (w+k is smart about that, obviously)

OK- so If I'm not the decider, how do I get my org to listen to the younger folks, the hidden assets?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bacon Apple Pie: the Recipe

Michael and I first saw this recipe on the internet. When Easter rolled around, we decided this would be the perfect dish to bring to our friends' annual gluttonous Easter brunch. We loosely followed the recipe from the EliCooks blog(http://elicooks.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/bacon-really-does-make-everything-better/ ), and our modifications are posted below.


many people, especially because you really have to be a champion eater to make it through a whole piece!


1 9″ pie crust (we used two premade pie crusts rolled together in a smaller pan so that we could make a large rim of dough to tuck the bacon into)
5-6 medium to large tart apples, cored and sliced (peeled, if you prefer, will make it more like traditional pie filling.)

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar

  • 1 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/2 tsp cloves

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 2.5 Tbsp cornstarch

  • 1 Tbsp Scotch (You want something noticeably smoky.)

  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup (fake would be extra gross)

  • 6-8 slices bacon, depending on how thick. (best to just buy a package or full pound- you know you'll eat the rest anyway!)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the pie crust in a 8 or 9″ pie pan and leave the overhanging edges.
  • Mix together the apple slices, brown sugar, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, cornstarch and scotch. Spread over the pie crust.
  • Pour the maple syrup evenly over the apples.
  • Arrange the strips of bacon over the top of the pie crust in a lattice, then fold the edges of the pie crust over the bacon and crimp.
  • note: The bacon lattice really doesn’t want to stay tucked in around the edges of the pie. We left alot of bacon hanging off the edge. And, we tried to tuck it down the inside of the crust to help keep it together. This is where using extra pie dough to wrap it over the edges of the bacon lattice really came in handy! There is a LOT of, er, shrinkage.

  • Bake for about an hour, until the bacon on top is nicely crisp, the crust is browned and a knife pushes easily into an apple slice. (Happily, these should all happen at roughly the same time.)

Thanks so much to the EliCooks blog for pioneering this disgusting and amazing awesomeness!

Up next: another gym report/repentance!

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