Tag Archives: wiki

social media logic models

So I spent the day after Thanksgiving wrestling with logic models, which is way more fun than doing the dishes.  If you want to cut to the chase and see what I made (two logic models for nonprofts considering using social networks) just click here.

My last post on social networks and decision trees was picked up by Beth Kanter, who wanted to see a logic model developed for nonprofits considering engagement in social network sites (SNSs); Amy Sample Ward, who was kind enough to back up my somewhat vague assertions with cold hard data; and Kevin Gamble, who shared his organization’s experience with trying to launch a custom site (based on Elgg) while simultaneously experimenting with creating a community on Facebook, and the surprising results.

Kevin recommends that we think about where the people are already assembled – if they are already gathering on an existing SNS, then his experience suggests that it is far easier to just build your community there.

I think this is true – but he does mention that his constituency is largely  progressive, which I am going to take here as meaning, at least in part, tech-savvy.  Or at least tech-willing.

How do you make an assessment about where to build community if your constituency is tech-resistant?

As I said in my original post, I think you have to be forward-thinking about this.  It is very easy to say my constituency isn’t on social networks. But what about in five years?  In ten?

That’s why I think it’s important to take some of that cold hard data and build a matrix of some sort that would allow people to input their constituency demographics (60% female, 35-50, and white-collar, say) and see what sort of participation this segment currently enjoys on exisiting SNSs, what the trend is, and predict out from there.  There’s not a TON of data, but there is some.

If one were really crafty, one could make it into a widget, an online calculator of sorts, where you could just answer a few questions about the basic make-up of your audience (either the one you have OR the one you wish you had), then click a “submit” button, and get a nice little read-out of how those folks are using the social web, and how that usage is expected to trend in the future.

Wouldn’t that be helpful?

So I decided to take a stab at creating a logic model to help think through some of the issues of time, money, resources, mission advancement, and measurement that arise when one wonders if one’s organization should get involved in social network sites.

I agree wholeheartedly with Amy’s assertion that the question is no longer Should we network? but How should we network?  However, I’ve had more than my share of the Koolaid on this here dude ranch, so I thought it would be useful to walk people through that decision for themselves. 

So I roughed out two draft logic models, based on this recently discussed logic model tool:

  1. Should my organization use a Social Networking Site?
  2. Should my organization use a custom or an existing Social Networking Site?

I’ve posted them on Beth’s wiki for social media metrics, so head on over and have a look if you’d like.  If you’d like to suggest changes, edits, improvements, either request an invitation to the wiki or leave a comment here.

  Add Small Dots to your feed reader…


athena, the powerpoint

I’ll be off for the next little while, conferencing in Pittsburgh at the Technology in the Arts conference at CMU over the weekend, then on a much-delayed vacation in NYC. 

I finally polished my Powerpoint presentation (on using blogs, photosharing and social networking sites in nonprofit communications) to a fine sheen last night in a sudden surge of inspiration and creativity, and am satisfied enough with the result that I can enjoy myself away in the world without any work-related sleepless nights.

I will admit that I was, tragically, well on my way to creating a rather drab and sad little series of slides until I got some more inspiration from Slideshare, and then sat through the entire hour of the microsoft webinar on the first five slides, by the author of Beyond Bullet Points, Cliff Atkinson. 

I ended up not taking the author’s advice quite to the letter, but watching that did have a profound effect on the way I visualized the graphics and the tone of the thing.

And, as always happens, it just needed to rattle around in my brain long enough until it was ready to emerge, fully formed, right out of my forehead. 

As it happened, I ended poking fun at the “cheerleader for technology” that I sometimes feel like by using a few images like this:

cheer out loud!

 And all right, I might as well come clean, this:

I cheer because I care

Let’s just say that the humor lies not in our shared physical appearance.

And of course I present all the necessary caveats and conditions, so I hold to my promise of not playing cheerleader, and provide instead just a basic introduction to some simple technology. 

Now all that’s left to do is compile a resources handout, as requested by the conference organizers.  Happy to oblige, but I’m thinking about augmenting this with a workshop-specific wiki, just to see what the response is.  See if anybody goes and contributes to it. I realize this is hardly groundbreaking, but would certainly be worth the exercise for me alone, at the very least.

And if folks from the workshop don’t use it, then at least I’ll have another place to play around with nonprofit technology links and news.   And post pictures of people who are not me.

fresh start

As my professional life heads further down the path toward Advocate for Technology in the Arts, I thought it would be useful for me to start a blog on that topic.  At the very least, it will serve as a place for me to store some of my ever-growing links and feeds related to the topic, as well as provide a place to think through some of the increasingly overwhelming thoughts I am having about the new technology, Web 2.0, and its impact on arts organizations, artists, and nonprofits.

It occurred to me that I should start my own blog on this topic earlier this afternoon while I was listening to an interview with Beth Kanter, an independent consultant whose professional focus encompasses all the topics listed above, while folding in a fascinating angle on how to orient “digital immigrants” to the landscape of Web 2.0.

I am not a digital immigrant, but I am struggling with some of the issues Beth mentions, especially how best to serve as a translator between the tech world and the arts world.   More and more, this is becoming my primary role, so I thought I’d join the conversation.

She also mentioned how she sometimes entices professionals in the nonprofit sector to make the leap to blogging for work by emphasizing how much it helps us solidify our thinking, learn, and even train ourselves, when we write things out.  Since most professionals write out thoughtful emails to each other, it is actually a small leap to make. 

And there is a big difference between writing discrete emails to one or several people and posting it to the web, of course.  What people tend to focus on is the fact that you are now “going public” but the benefits of that can far outweigh any perceived negatives. 

Not least of all, you can find your own thoughts again on various subjects, without having to undergo some tedious search through the contents of your email files and folders.  And as we know, posting your thoughts to the web creates the potential for a conversation.  It allows people to comment, link, and build on your original post.

Heck, it allows them to find you in the first place.

So, although I have been a blogger for several years now in a very comfortable sort of slice-of-life, personal stories sort of way, I think it’s time to extend the exercise to encompass my professional life. 

This fall I will be going to several conferences on technology, including the Technology in the Arts conference in Pittsburgh, Podcamp Boston 2, and potentially one or two more if I can find the time and resources.  I am also planning on giving a talk of my own on the topic at a conference in November.

In preparation for all this I have been doing a tremendous amount of research to try to get up-to-speed on the latest thinking, startups, and technology in the field, with an emphasis on the intersection of technology and the arts world.

One major issue that I hear a lot about is how to engage artists in online collaborations and social networking, when the first hurdle is a pronounced discomfort with and even distrust of technology.  This was one of the reasons I enjoyed Beth Kenter’s interview so much — she mentioned some ways to get people started, just by dipping their toes in.

  1. Find a small, manageable, low-risk project.  Think about using a wiki for a project that might benefit from peering and collaboration.  Not only are wikis easy and manageable, but they are comfortingly familiar.  They look pretty much like a plain old website, just one with a big “edit” button somewhere around the edges.   So that might be one way to open a channel with somewhat tech-resistant users who nonetheless have a discrete project that needs attention and collaboration.
  2. Start with something addictive.  This is what Beth Kanter jokingly refers to as the crack dealer method, and she suggests RSS as a possible point of entry.  Set your user up with a reader (I use Google reader, and I think a lot of casual users have a certain comfort level with the Google brand) and start them off with a news feed on a topic of potent interest to them.  In the case of an organization, get them started with a news feed tagged to their organization name.  We all want to know when we’re in the press!
  3. Use the web for information gathering.  Then move on to content creation.  Get your user searching for items of interest with tags on blogs, myspace, flickr, and other social networking sites, and when they find a blog or photoset or what-have-you that they like, use that as a teachable moment to move on to social bookmarking and feeds.
  4. Start a professional blog.  Read what some other blogs in your field, choose a few that you like, and model yourself on them to start.  That is, after all, how most bloggers get started.  I mentioned above some of the benefits to starting a professional blog, including networking and storage/retrieval of ideas, links, and networks.

This blogging thing is pretty fun. I think I’ll do it again.