So it’s been a week since the Net Squared Conference.I’ve had some time to catch up on my myriad emails and other assorted office things that piled up in my absence, and I’d like to offer up some of my impressions.
For the past few months, I’ve been avidly squeezing all that I could from Net Squared.I’m a pretty stereotypical accidental techie here at Interplast, and I have been relying on the Net2 community to point me in the right direction for understanding Web 2.0 tools and technologies. Even though I watch the videos and keep the Net2Learn sections as handy references, I seem to get the most out of the personal connections I’ve made.
To take advantage of the oppportunities that blogs and socialnetworking offer, many nonprofits have to reach the point where they have broader definitions of constiutents, participants, members, the media, and donors, and a broader definition of participation. I'm not sure what percent of service-providing nonprofits perceive any incentive in increasing their investment in these areas, as the case for return on their investment isn't a clear one.
What bridging examples are there of organizations that moved from being net2/ socialnetworking/blog/ and wiki ignorant to successfully embracing these and seeing powerful results? Cases of custom webapps and mashups are the ones that come first to my mind.
Seeing the video inderview on Democracy Now that discussed OhMyNews, GlobalVoices, and a project working with kids in South America made a fundamental new impression on me: this was the first time I'd seen a group of projects from our field presented together in the media rather than as separate projects ( See the video at: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/31/1330245 ).
I think this could well be key to our gaining greater media attention, relevance, and traction as a field of people applying technologies for the greater good. This is part of what I've always thought N-TEN could help achieve, and I'm glad the netsquared has helped fostered this kind of media attention. These kinds of stage-sharing interviews and media events amplify the messages of each participant by allowing them to occupy a larger stage. I'm very curious how collaboration affects media voice and power -- are there cases (in subsectors like environmentalism for example) where a group of orgs has more media power than single projects with their own media initiatives? My gut hunch is that all our projects are served by the successes of our peers.
I'm back in Germany at long last, and recovered enough from the San Francisco Bay and air conditioning-induced allergies, and jet-lag, to be able to post online again... I really enjoyed the conference info about how various nonprofits created very positive online "buzz" about a particular issue, or how they countered an opposing political effort through grassroots online organizing, etc. BUT... I also kept thinking of how these efforts are NOT always used for "good", and I brought up how it's been through various efforts, including online activism, that the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has been so severely maligned, particularly regarding its work in China. I've found myself convincing family members back in Kentucky, and friends back in Texas, that, no, what they read in that church bulletin or heard on some local radio program or read on some online discussion group about UNFPA was, in fact, NOT true. How does an organization effectively counter malicious, seemingly-grassroots online efforts to discredit its excellent work? (I've written to UNFPA directly and encouraged them to respond as well, FYI)
I was running around working during the NetSquared Conference, so I didn't have a chance to take part in many of the sessions, including the Project Sprint portion of the conference, when people self-organized into interest groups around a project.
One of the projects I would have liked to have organized would have been people who wanted to create a workshop, FAQ sheet or some kind of tool, to help nonprofits and NGOs overcome their fear of blogging.The three fears I hear the most from nonprofits that are considering blogging are:
1. Our audience will write nasty comments
2. Our staff will write nasty posts and air our dirty laundry