Will Richardson has an excellent post, Don't, Don't, Don't vs. Do, Do, Do, in which he muses on "acceptable use" policies of social media in schools and how restrictive and anti-learning they can be. Having spent the past several months working with clients on integrating social media into their organizations, this post really resonated with me. I'm finding that while a few places embrace social media as an exciting opportunity,... Read more →

Some Observations on Getting Value from a Social Network

For the past few days I've been working with a group of grant-funded projects from across Pennsylvania who are evaluating whether or not to form a state-wide network and thinking through what such a network could do. One of the issues that came up (as it inevitably does) was how to share information, which naturally led to a discussion of social media and networks. Last year I'd set up a... Read more →

Egocentric vs. Object Centric Networks: I Think I Know the Problem With Ning

Three months ago we started the Building a Better Blog Ning network. After three weeks I was still enamored with the community. Things were going well, we had a lot of new members. All was right with our little corner of the digital world. Then we hit a wall, which I blogged about a few weeks ago. Site activity was way down and we began struggling with ways to continue... Read more →

The Rise of the Do-It-Yourself Portal

In the past few days, I've found a number of new portals online. I'm starting to wonder if we can't learn a thing or two from what's happening. First, via Eisenblog, came Open Learn University's portal, created by Stuart Brown in Netvibes to support OU students and instructors. Then I find Crimson Connect, the student-run Harvard University portal, developed in the wake of student dissatisfaction with Harvard's "Official" website. (Take... Read more →

Open Source Bidding and Innovation

A few weeks ago, Michelle Murrain asked a great question--How do we make change if we keep doing things the same way? (I would argue that you can't, but that's not the point of this post.) Now David Wilcox and some other collaborators are looking at how they can use a different process for a familiar nonprofit activity--responding to a Request for Proposal/Invitation to Tender (depending on your location). Writes... Read more →

Using Facebook in Your Nonprofit

I spent yesterday with my college freshman daughter who revealed to me the extent to which FaceBook has taken over the social lives of teens and twenty-somethings (with the "older folk" coming on fast). Let's just say that if it's not happening through FaceBook, then it's not happening. By sheer coincidence, I'd used the train ride into NYC to read (among other things) Fast Company's profile of 22-year old (!)... Read more →

Nonprofit Networking Part 7: Creating Collective Value Through a Peer Assist Process

Recently we've been exploring the ways in which a nonprofit network can create collective value for its members. One strategy to consider is the Peer Assist, which I stumbled across on Nancy White's Full Circle Online Interaction Blog. You can watch a 5-minute animated tutorial on the process here. Essentially a type of brainstorming session that reminds me of Open Space, the Peer Assist involves an individual identifying a problem... Read more →

Building Nonprofit Networks Part Six: Creating Collective Value with Individuals

Before I went on my little sabbatical earlier this month, I'd been working on a series devoted to Nonprofit Networking based on NetGains. In that last post, I talked about the need to create a collective value propositions in networks because it is the perception of value that makes a network greater than the sum of its parts. I had planned to next write about the developmental tasks of a... Read more →

Building Nonprofit Networks--Part Five: Creating Value

For the past several days I've been exploring three types of nonprofit networks and the characteristics/features of each. Yesterday we discussed the need for networks to have a collective value proposition, which I promised to explore in more detail today. According to NetGains: "As goes the collective value proposition, so goes the network. The collective value proposition is what makes the network greater than the sum of its parts. As... Read more →

Building Nonprofit Networks--Part Four: Affinity & Production Networks

Continuing with the learnings from NetGains on developing networks, today I want to talk in more detail about affinity and production networks. Affinity Networks Build Alignment As you'll recall, connectivity networks link people to people and people to information. Affinity networks build on these initial linkages to align the network around what is called a "collective value proposition." According to Platrik and Taylor: " . . . a collective value... Read more →