Friday, December 30, 2005

Contact Improv Meets Facilitation

Okay... I know that I ranted (I really wanted to use another word there) about all these new web 2.0 tools (technorati,, etc.) but because I was playing with them, I found this:

Johnnie Moore's Weblog: Bruised guide to facilitation

I love contact improvisation, and I love facilitation. Who knew that lessons from one could inform the other?! (Amy, where are you? You'll love this, too!)

This is why I run this blog: to find interesting intersections that inform our work!

Understanding Team Culture for Effective Virtual Teams

While the amount of ads on this blog almost made me choke, I enjoyed reading Effective Team Collaboration Roadmap: The Bioteaming Manifesto (Technology), which addresses quite well, I thought, the ongoing challenge that I face: explaining how to address the organizational culture issues that can have a negative impact on successfully implementing technology.

In this piece, the writers strongly recommend starting with what is known about teams and teamwork (regardless of the technology) and being sure to acknowledge and address these things as you build, support and sustain a virtual team.

I'd like to see more of this kind of analysis about technology adoption inside of organizations. Great work!

The Intersection of All these Tools!

In the interest of being transparent, and sharing my own (however frustrating) lessons learned, I want to try to share my experience trying to integrate the use of blogging, tagging, technorati, social bookmarking, blah blah woof woof... into my efforts to publish a professional blog.

I have, in large part, followed a few of my colleagues' footsteps, trying to tread carefully into the impressions they've left in the sand... thanks and appreciation are due to Nancy White and Beth Kanter and Marnie Webb for leading the way for me.

What I am struggling with is how to describe how best to integrate all this activity into one's online publishing and online presence. Let's start with what I did...

  • I started a blog in the first place because I wanted a) a place to publish my "thinking outloud" pieces about my field of work, and b) to increase my visibility in this community. I chose Blogger because it was free and easy.
  • I recognized that part of maintaining a blog meant tracking what others in my and related fields were blogging about, so I set up an account at Bloglines (that's my roll). I attempt to read my bloglines once a week. I don't always succeed.
  • Then Emily Weinberg attempted to introduce me to the world of tagging, but I dragged my feet for months, until...
  • I saw Nancy White adding tags to her blog posts, and I figured it was time to learn what the heck all this was about. (I'd also read that using tags could increase traffic to one's blog, and well, who doesn't want that?)
  • So then I created a account to start building my list of bookmarks that I tagged. I also explored how others of my colleagues were using tags so I could use their tagsonomy (which I now realize is called "folksonomy") instead of making something up entirely on my own. (More on this later... the tags for the nonprofit space need a lot of work!)
  • And then of course, I had to create a Technorati Account, "claim" my blog, add tags, set up a watchlist (which appears to be redundant with BlogLines, btw...)
  • And then, because there currently is no easy way to add TAGS to one's blog posts on, I switched my browser from Netscape to Firefox so that I could:

  • Then I went back and edited all my At the Intersection posts so that they all have tags now.

By the way, I created (?) a new tag called intersection that I use for any posts, web pages, etc. that meet my criteria for being related to my "At the Intersection" blog-- i.e., content that crosses over and makes good fodder for my blog, including people who write about their work in a broader context, relating what they do to other fields.

So... after hours of this, I can only hope that the investment of time and frustration and learning was worth it. I am going to trust that it was as I see so many of my colleagues using this technology well and powerfully and satisfyingly.

But I will say that I cannot possibly encourage my nonprofit clients to invest their limited time into this endeavor until the tools are MUCH simpler, much more integrated with each other, and there is a demonstrated benefit to such an investment.

Lastly, I tried putting this in the margin of my blog, but I thought it messed things up visually and didn't look professional (although I think it looks great on Marnie Webb's blog). [update: I managed to figure out how to make it look okay in the margin.] So I'm sticking it here instead; blogger claims it won't accept the SCRIPT tag, but it does...

End of Year (2005) Blog Review

This is less a review of all my favorite blogs of 2005 than it is a compilation of recently reviewed blogs that are great... I thought I'd put them all in one place.

  • It was very pleasing to read Daniel Ben-Horin's Of NetSquared, the Well, the Moment...and the Wikipedia Bustup | NetSquared. I appreciated the long-view perspective. (Not many people know I was one of CompuMentor's first "employees" back in 1987... I learned about CM on the WELL... it all started with a WELL message board called "nonprofit".) As always, Daniel does a great job at providing a big picture and helping us connect the dots and learn from history. Thanks, Dan.

  • Nancy Schwartz has been around nonprofit online communications for many years. In addition to her excellent e-newsletter about nonprofit communications, and she's now entered the blogosphere with Getting Attention. Nancy is also doing a fine job of seeing the intersection of nonprofit communications with other fields, and her most recent post is about the power of social information in fundraising communications.

  • Nancy White recently blogged about Potluck as Metaphor (and reality) of Civic Engagement. I liked seeing this as further evidence of the power of social networking and civic engagement. A reminder that it's not all about technology...

  • In fact, it may be about the behavior of dog-scratching, according to Alan Rosenblatt of the Media Center in Why Integrate Online and Offline Advocacy Strategies.

  • But tools are always changing, and people want to know about them... Rob Enderle also of the Media Center does a nice compilation of what's coming down the pike in 2006 with Media Tech Trends in 2006.

  • In the realm of "pure" nonprofit management, I came across a couple of resources recently worth diving into:

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bringing Some "Edge" to Fundraising

[This blog post was inspired by my participation in the Nonprofit Blog Exchange.]

I'd like to highlight a couple of sites that bring a little "edge" to an old and tired but undying topic-- nonprofit fundraising.

Usually, I don't touch this topic; others are far better at it than I. But what I like about these two below is that they really resonate with my desire here "At the Intersection" to apply lessons from a variety of fields/industries to the particular topic at hand.

  1. Jeff Brooks in his Donor Power Blog serves as a great "translator", applying lessons learned in one sector to another. For example: see how he translates a Chronicle of Philanthropy article about baby boomers and volunteerism into lessons about baby boomers and giving.

    And his "edge" is particularly evident in his insistence that nonprofits shift their attention from the almighty DOLLAR long enough to think about the DONOR. See in particular:

  2. Amy Kincaid's Fundraising Breakthroughs has a different kind of edge and focuses more on helping organizations think through how to plan for and manage effective fundraising. She reminds us to periodically lift our noses from the work in front of us and see the larger context inside of which we work. We may just be surprised, for example, that Congress has passed a law that screws our chances to raise money for the causes we hold dear (e.g., repealing the Estate Tax).

    Amy's also great at pointing out dangerous pitfalls especially new nonprofits can make in their efforts to raise funds.

Definitely add these two to your blog rolls, even if fundraising isn't your gig. In addition to bringing some new voices to an old topic, they've both got good eyes and ears for learning lessons that cross borders...