Live Blogging - OCS 2006: Online Communities for Social Good

9:30-10:30  Key Trends in Online Collaboration for Social Good
Presenters: Chris Wolz, Forum One & Perla Ni, GreatNonprofits

Update: Refresh for the latest information.  

9:10: Introductions have started. Chris is "setting the stage".  Scarce resources push non-profits harder than corporations into online collaboration because they need to harness the power of the communities. 

This goes back to a conversation last night I had with someone about the difference between me asking people to do collaborative development with Microsoft and them asking cancer survivors to publish information about clinical trials they were part of to a non-profit web site.

9:15: Introductions... People I should meet today: Folks from & collabnet are here.  :-)

9:20: No words on slides. :-)

9:22: Quote from cluetrain "You have two choices. You can continue to lock yourself behind facile corporate words and ... Or you can join the conversation"

9:25: Blogging & Mobile devices solve "Last mile" problem for humanitarian groups and getting information from disasters. " Not much use of social networking for public good just yet.  " - How will this change with the myspace generation? 

9:26: Surprising... "I see all kinds of applications to share video clips that drive people to help for social good".  Youtube = cheap ads and a way to get the word out for non-profits.   Scoble would be happy. :-)  Is this more powerful for people than text stories? 

9:30: - online tools that alert people to disasters around the world.  Hooked up to earthquake sensors and send out SMS & e-mails to track the stuff.  Helps first responders gather around events.  They also use Google earth.  Show real time hurricane tracking that people can add data and reports to.  Talk about where they send the teams from to which disasters.  A cool use of technolofy for sure.

9:35: Another Google earth tool. People working for wildlife (Jane goodall I think he said) foundation. Ties blog posts into Google earth. Also embedding blog posts & photos into the google earth map.  Lays out the story on the map. I wonder how discoverable this information is?  There is no public commenting, but if they did they could open up their field work to anyone around the world.  I think for a second that I'd love to geotag my blog like this.... but then I realize it would look really boring. "Look, another post from Sammamish WA". 

I wish this were web accessible through google maps, but you need the app and the layer to see it. 

9:40: Google liked this so they are building this into the app itself. 

9:41: Non profit folks still believe that this tech is still out of thier reach when, in reality, the cost is consistantly being driven down. 

9:42: Do non-profits risk opening themselves up to the flame wars?  Attendee comment that the same rules apply.  Need to force user registration and add penalties for bad behavior.

9:45: Perli takes over the slides. She is also the founder of in addition to   Statement: most non-profit web sites have no draw to pull people back into the site.  They only list basic information, donation information, and sign-up information.  They don't tell a story that compels people and use the same lame marketing pictures that corporations use. (my words, but her sentiment. )

9:50: Group is making videos of homeless people to tell the story of the people that need help. Not trying to tell you what to think, but rather jump to conclusions based on the content they are producing.  Lots of videos & podcasts that tell the story. Dozen+ videos posted per day.

9:51: Is this really successful? Based on site traffic compared to other similar orgs... yes.

9:52: www.Click.TV : Embed user opinions that stream with the video you are watching.  Reminds me of MST3k for users to generate their own tracks and commentary. Cool idea.  Shows wonkett talking over Bush on one of his latest speeches.  "Take any video and let your users go crazy."

9:55: Videos on sex ed for adults and teenagers.  Sort of the opposite of the movement to "Protect teen girls" I saw driving down here in Oregon. :-) I wish I had a picture of their huge billboards on the freeway.  Gretchen and I had to wonder for hours "Protect teen girls from what"? 

10:00: Maybe just a powerful statement that gets users engaged. Go to

10:03: Build an "experiential web" to motivate users. Great graph of MTV versus Myspace traffic... guess who is winning the "daily reach" in web traffic... by a lot. 

10:05: Video seems big this year at the OCS... especially user generated videos for your cause.

10:08: General discussion & commentary about not just putting stuff on your site, but using youtube & google & aol videos to generate buzz on the cheap. 

10:10:  Against the 42 million toy hummers that McDonalds gave away with happy meals.  They have a "create your own sign" for users to interact with. Use the "Sign-o-matic". Some good satire here:  Over 132k user generated signs! 6k folks on their e-mail list. Awareness is the ROI measure. Measure success by gallop polls over time. Look at cost per awareness tick.  Is there a real connection between people doing this and actually taking action? I'm willing to bet that a lot of those 132k sign makers ate at McDonalds afterwards.  Is that OK?

10:18: Problem: Shards of Glass ad from superbowl. Cost a lot of money and upset tobacco companies (cost more money) is that worth it?  hard to measure ROI from this sort of ad. What it may have needed was some call to action in the real world that may have made the message go further.  How do you tie the on and offline.  Last night we talked about the yellowball thing as a great mix of on and offline actions to motivate people.  Can't just have online anymore. 

10:23: Break time. Update: Side conversation about "utilities" like youtube and how they will figure out to monitize rather than just letting people "abuse thier bandwidth".  What will change for these groups when youtube figures that out? What if a contextual ad for Mcdonalds ran before an anti-Mcdonalds ad hosted on youtube for the ronaldmchummer site?

11:00: New Presenters...

Case Studies: Effective Online Collaboration for Social Good
Social Edge / Skoll Foundation /
Victor d’Allant, Executive Director, Social Edge

11:03: Forums got too complex. Had to have moderators simplify the introductions to the forums. Keep them under 500 words.  Non registered members can't post.

11:05: They are also blogging to help social entrepreneurs get funding. Make the information useful and public is sort of the theme here. The blogs also force people to come back to the site.  Keeping attention is clearly a theme of the morning presentations here. 

11:09: The lone "Microsoft Guy" (me) receives his second dig. First for windows media player not working (ended up being bandwidth) and now for the presenters slides from Keynote not transferring to PowerPoint well. 

11:11: The world bank closed comments because they were depressed they didn't get comments.  Have to be patient to build your audience is the lesson here. It's about the content or the message. 

11:12: Why don't they have wiki or podcast?  The answer is "what would they do with it?" They don't know what content makes sense for the medium. 

11:14: Tags became a requirement to user generated content navigation.

11:19: Why not open it up for user created blogs on Social Edge?  Down the road that will happen, but they need critical mass first. At the moment maybe there are not enough of their target audience there.

11:21: New Presenter... Marty Kearns, Executive Director, Green Media Toolshed

Media Volunteer /

11:23: "How do we use groups online to actually create change?"

11:26: Three different types of networks. 1. Scale Free (think six degrees of kevin bacon) 2. Modular (people are in clusters loosely connected) 3. Hierarchical - top down organization of a network.   The question is how to leverage these strong social ties in any of these networks? There is a need for a rich complications list.  50 million people signed up for do-not-call list in a short time with no leader.  This answered a need and it was strong enough to get people to do something.

11:28: Groups need common stories to rally around. Spiderman on the bases in baseball.  Threat to the game... 80k people respond on  48 hours later baseball pulled back the ad. 

11:30: Chevy create a commercial site... most people made anti-Chevy/SUV ads.  Chevy tried to take down the negative ads but...  Check out these Youtube vids.  Tahoe sales down 46% the next quarter. (Timed with gas prices rising though.) Marty also linked to the McD Hummer site again and yet another site of people taking pictures of themselves flipping off hummers.  (I think he hates SUVS a bit. ) <commentary> Sorry Marty. I drove down from Seattle in my Nissan Pathfinder with my wife and two Bernese Mountain Dogs... and it was a lot of fun that wouldn't have been had in a tiny hybrid vehicle (dogs = 110lbs each).  My SUV also allows us to bring back wine without shipping it.  I think there are probably better social causes.</commentary> 

11:45: Another offline connection. People are 40% more likely to do something as a result of an offline interaction. Is there a way to make online as good or is offline interactions with your community the best way?

11:47: Aren't these online interactions (Chevy add) too hard for common users to get around? Doesn't it take a special person to do those mash-ups?   Need a balance of "slick" vs "plain text". I personally think you need to design features at extremes. One for the readers and everyday folks and the other end of features for these "advanced" users that catalyze the readers.

11:54: Conversation about not using money to motivate people. People want to be motivated by a cause or a shared group rather than money. (At least small scale money like Mechanical Turk.)  


That wraps up the morning session. I'll create new posts for the afternoon talks. I'm off to lunch. Enjoy!