Wednesday, May 31, 2006

WOW! - Slick theatre preview!

In a moment of downtime (downtime? wassat?) after all the conference/camps I've been to, I caught up with some of my personal mail. One was from the Magic Theatre (in San Francisco), that is producing The Long Christmas Ride Home, by Pulitzer-winner Paula Vogel.

Of course, given my theatre background, I'm interested in this - and since a member of my performance group is one of the puppeteers, I'm doubly interested. By their online preview was so slick and ... well, awesome, I stopped everything to blog about it. They also have interviews with the creative team, as well as a radio podcast from Cool as Hell (mentioned here previously).

.... Wow. Not only is it a great preview, but - I stopped everything to blog about it -. I've been bitten by the big blue-black blog bug that bleeds blue (say that for your performance warm-ups).

Monday, May 29, 2006

I went to wineCamp and all you got was this blog post

So what was WineCamp, and what happened?

Well, you can read about it - just click to find out who is talking about WineCamp, who took photos at WineCamp and who is tagging WineCamp on Technorati and And even if you don't know what that means, you can click away and read more.

Me in deep coonversation, courtesy of Miss Rogue.

My far too simple attempt at describing what happened:
A bunch of developers, "start-up"-sy types, nonprofit techies and a few brave "What's a wiki?" folks converged on a wind-swept ridge in Skeleton County, a grassy patch with no running water and no electricity, but a beautiful view and several rustic picnic tables and firepits built by hand by vineyard owner Andrew Ferriere - and spent a day talking about various techie-social-good topics - then the next day swooped (or swoopt as the Canadians might spell it) down to a winery with wireless access to work on some real-life coding as well as continuing the conversations. For example:
  • Libba from Outpost for Hope, that helps find missing persons, was offered a website makeover (including functionality upgrades to their youth database search tools) by the CivicSpace crew. By the time I left, they had not completed the all the finishing touches on the site makeover, but it was definitely a feet-to-the-fire test for the Drupal superstars to crank out what they did in 5 hours. I'll be pointing to whatever comes out of the code-sprint whenever/ wherever it shows up.
  • A woman representing The Princess Project - that provides prom dresses to girls who could not otherwise afford them - wants to explore using open-source community and donor management tools for her organization, and brainstormed how to convince her funders to fund the development of these tools.
  • We had a small-group conversation about how technologies can be leveraged in countries where there is no broadband technology infrastructure to support the use of current Web-based tools - so what is possible as an alternative? Several other conversations sprung out of this, including mobile digital storytelling, extending the use of mobile technology, and how to use simple tools like a cell phone to do work - for money - in remote villages from Guatemala to Tanzania. We agreed to follow-up on these topics - most likely on the Omidyar network (but I'll point you from here when that happens).
  • On the day-of-coding (Day 2), a group of digital video folks jammed together a quick videocast ad on how technology can benefit nonprofits, using Drupal as the tech and Lines Ballet as the nonprofit. Part of the point was to cross-train several people on the video-production basics, but something tells me that ad will make it online - possibly by NetSquared?
Filed under: WineCamp

Camp Squared 2 NetSquared

I've got a lot of catching up to do. I just came off Online Community Camp and WineCamp, and am off to NetSquared tomorrow. There's a lot to catch up on, but the brief skivvy (is that redundant?) right now:
OCC: Largely corporate (I think I counted less than 10 nonprofits for 100 attendees), but to be fair, it was never billed as any sort of community building specifically for civic society (and I'm not saying that as a critique, it is just what it is). I personally didn't take back a lot from the conference, but that's partly because I'm not attempting to create a place for a community to gather - I am more interested in how communities can exist using distributed Web2.0 tools - i.e. there may be an actual place (or URL), but maybe it's just a distributed conversation. I did have an interesting conversation on the challenges of online international community building; perhaps I'll repost those notes on as well as the (closed) OCC Wiki. I'll do a more formal report-back on OCC soon.
WineCamp: Despite last-minute organizing (and direction) challenges, WineCamp turned out to be an incredible event - in no small part to the setting, and the wine(s) (those being Stormhoek, Ferriere and Stevenot) and the enthusiasm of the attendees. Chris Messina and Tara Hunt's original idea of bringing nonprofits and geeks together paid off - both in tangible ways with real-life, in-the-moment projects (including a "barn-raising" website makeover for a nonprofit attendee) - and dozens of passionate and creative conversations, of which one I know will continue past the Calaveras county mark - because I intend to personally drive that conversation.

More on all this to be continued. In the meantime, I've got a day to catch my breath, then off to NetSquared, where a small but sunburnt crowd might regale the others with big smiles and enthusiastic tales.

Technorati tags:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Translation - first (personal) feedback.

[This probably makes more sense now that I actually published the translated version - see this post...]

The previous post was to see a) if posting in French as well could generate traffic that posting in English does not, b) to see how challenging or easy it could possibly be. (Disclosure: I'm essentially fluent in French, but my gramer and speleing sukes... if you get me.)
  • It's not a hard process per se, but it's time consuming. I pushed my text through Babelfish, corrected the text, and then re-added the links.
  • Obviously, there isn't a bunch of very relevant text in the post that would only be found in French (I mean, the French name for WineCampFrance is... WineCampFrance.). Hey, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision....
  • The automated translation tools do a fairly middling job of translating. It's often easy enough to correct by hand, but for example, in my case, I can never remember the damn accents, and I have to rewrite the English with an aim to get Google/ Babelfish to use the word I'm going for, to make sure I've spelled it correctly.
  • What the above is implying that I don't feel confident posting the first translation swipe on my blog, because as Marnie sez - "blogging scales stupidity". I.e. mistakes here are seen by larger groups than in personal emails (for example) and stay published indefinitely. So I want to make a reasonable effort to make it readable. But that is a barrier to posting in another language that I am reasonably fluent in - and if I have that problem, I'm positive there are tons (no, millions) of competent-but-non-native-English speakers who are not posting in English because of this same fear - which means when I do English-language searches I'm missing them, and they are missing me - even if we could communicate easily once we found each other....
  • The other time consuming challenge is that I had to re-paste all the "link layer" URL addresses - it wasn't a matter of cutting and pasting in URLS - I had to add the links by hand again. Oh how I long for a blog plug-in that will translate in the blog-post on the fly....
  • The next step in my experiment is to sign up for NativeText. More to come....

Entre toi et moi et l'EntreNet

[I'm trying a bit of a test - how mch does language restrict (or expand) your reach online?]

Au cas où vous ne vous rendez pas compte, ca buscule beaucoup en ce moment au sujet de l'EntreNet, les communautés sur le Web, et les ONGs. En bref, voilà ce que ressemble ma semaine:

(Et si vous êtes dans les sud de la France en juin, peut-être vous pouvez assister à l'UpFing06 et aider une autre Gregoire à organiserWineCampFrance.)
  • Finalement, après un bref sursis, j'assiste le mardi de NetSquared.

3 events, 7 days, Web 2.0

In case you haven't kept up, there's a lot going on right now in the concentric circles of Internet tools, community building, and nonprofits. This is what my week looks like:

(And if you're in the south of France in June, maybe you can catch up with the UpFing06 fest and help another Gregoire help organize WineCampFrance.)
  • Then, after a brief respite, I'll be helping out on Tuesday of NetSquared.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Detritus of the Digital Life

In the course of testing - as well as using - various online tools, I leave behind me a wake of logins, passwords and open accounts. Some of these I use on a regular basis - Deli.ici.ous, Blogger, Flickr - and some less frequently - BaseCamp, any number of Wikis, New York Times login, etc. And even if I have tried to unify my logins and passwords (high securityvs. low security) it's still confusing - am I using an email or a name; is the password my email password, or my high security or low security password? And given the rash of laptop thefts, I'm not about to have all of my sign-ins saved for me.

This makes me think of the two main directions I'm going in right now - one way with the proliferation of Web.20 tools (which are dispersed everywhere) and the other way with something like Drupal - whose users basically tried to incorporate into the application the functionality of any new tool, via module development (there are Flickr, Eventful, Del.ici.ous and various blogging modules available, just to name a few).

So I see two fundamental directions - distributed vs. consolidated, and to be honest, I'm veering towards the consolidated camp. I can't do the rounds every day and catch-up with comments on Flickr, on Wikis A thru Z, on discussion boards (on more than one site) and then in email too. I know there are patchwork ways of being able to "publish" (comments, blogs, emails, etc) from a single source - configuring the web browser Flock is one example - and that if you wanted to, you could RSS your world, so that all your info sources come to one place (e.g. Bloglines or Feedster). But if I get 50+ emails a day (low by some people's standards, but that's not counting spam) and more than 2 RSS feeds, I'm toast.

As Zacker said, email is the killer app (I can't find the original blog post, but read his overview at the beginning of this post - essentially, all you really need is an email list and a whitebaord (read: wiki) - and you can acoomplish a hell of a lot.) I agree - but even then, too many of either these are not helpful.... I know that this explosion of new tools wil leventually contract and consolidate - but until then, it's going to be a little hectic. In the meantime, I'm hoping open-source universal sign-on will alleviate some of these problems.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Can't go to NetSquared? Then go here

You might have heard already that NetSquared has become a victim of its own success. Registration is closed (erm, well, it never opened).

But you didn't really wanna hear others talk about what they accomplished, did you? No! It's all about you! What can you do with social web tools? And who's around to help?

Well, I'm trying. Here are some other events going on that aren't full - yet - which will put you in the center spot (primarily because they are "un-conference"/ "open-space" types of events) . Because it's all about you - and your constituents, of course.

Online community camp
If you're managing, building or trying to salvage an online community. Proposed topics include:
  • Community management issues;
  • Review of community tools;
  • Tactics for smoothly changing community platforms;
  • Effective use of volunteers;
  • Using online communities to enhance interaction within physical communities like neighborhoods, towns, and cities.

A BarCamp-style event, putting social-web tools developers together with nonprofits in a weekend-long brainstorm. A) Yes, it is camping, but hotels are available (see link at bottom of WineCamp page). B) No, they can't help with your network. Or your printer. C) I''ll be there. Look for this mug.
Some proposed topic areas:
  • Engaging your stakeholders - what tools are available to expand the opportunities for your clients, audiences, supporters, and funders to support your work?
  • Broadening the conversations - how can your clients and supporters become your best marketers and advocates?
  • Collaborating across teams / distances - what are the best practices and tools for working in a distributed team?
  • Harnessing "social web" tools for your Website and your desktop - what are the tools out there, and how do you determine what will work best for your organization?

NetSquared-orbit events
  • DrupalCamp will be having a Santa Clara meeting (Drupal for Social Change) the night before NetSquared.
  • There's also talk of a WineCamp Round-Up (TeqUp?) happening Wednesday, May 31st
  • And this coming Tuesday (May 6, 6pm) - NetTuesday moves to Canvas Gallery (Inner Susnet, San Francisco) for an informal smorgasbord of Netty-Squarey-Thingies and WineyCampy Thingies.