January 11, 2009
If you haven’t checked it out yet, have a good look at Message in-a-Box “A toolkit for communicating your cause”.
It’s relevant to anyone that needs to communicate in life and work.
When Nodestone was commissioned by the Tactical Tech Collective earlier in the year to help bring it together, I faced a somewhat overwhelming task as you might imagine when you see it.
What is it? A rather large online resource for learning how to communicate better, to put it simply.
More specifically, it’s an international educational platform for people in NGOs and campaigning organisations that demonstrates how to use low-tech and high-tech tools and tactics to work on some of the hardest issues of our times.
We show you how to think strategically (about goals, resources and time) and then know which tools and tactics (eg. images / print / audio / video / internet / mobiles and media) to choose to get your message across.
Here’s how Tactical Tech describe it:
“…a set of strategic guides to using communications tools for social change, together with a suite of open source tools to get you making your own media. The toolkit is designed for small and medium-sized NGOs, advocates, and citizen journalists to help them create and distribute content for their advocacy efforts while exploring the constantly evolving world of campaigning and communications.”
The feedback has been excellent around the world. A much needed resource.
Here’s an example of how it works:
This section helps you find out how others have used images effectively and creatively. It helps you learn how to find, create, edit, share great images, with an emphasis on photographs, comics, maps and simple animated images.
Images add impact to stories, blog posts, websites, posters,brochures, email campaigns – whatever campaigning channels and tools you are using.
What do you need?
Essential: ideas, creativity, imagination, a strategy.
Extra: people to help, internet access, mobile phone and/or a camera (digital or other), source books/comics/cartoons collected from anywhere or commissioned.
Having worked in communications as a consultant, writer, activism and educator for (gosh!) over 20 years, it was a dream to be able to put these threads of life to good use. To make something practical and tangible.
Message-in-a-Box is about the power of PR being brought to the people who have historically had least access to it. Things were all explained in the simplest possible terms with examples and free software downloads. From human rights abuses to clean water – NGOs on little or no budget obviously need education and support. It’s an egalitarian Aussie’s delight.
In London, Botswana or Mumbai, Message-in-a-Box is now available for free, 24/7. A print version with DVD software is also being distributed. It’s actually a good resource for anyone a clear (hopefully) perspective on getting your message across.
Along the way we got to massage the words and ideas of some great folk like Becky Faith, Dr Dan McQuillan and Heleana Quartey. Hopefully to first incarnation is already being put to some good use.
Once thing I’m hoping Tactical Tech do soon is to improve collaboration and “stickiness” on the site. Feedback, registration etc… Also the use of images and stills, sound and video clips to make the resource more visual and interactive – to practice what we preach!
Over the years we have increasingly worked on projects that pass positive screens for social / eco accountability. Put another way… that feel good. Like:
- widgets for TrickleStar and the BBC
- social carbon measurement for Global Action Plan
- edu-marketing for the Guerrand Hermes Foundation for Peace
- teaching blogging to communities and companies
- setting up The Big Love Gift Guide
- running a massive campaign for TV Turn Off Week.
But as long as you aren’t arms dealers, we can usually find or create some positive values in just about any project. Get in touch if you want to know how Nodestone can help you feel good about your work.
September 16, 2008
We did a car boot sale on the weekend.. and amongst the pile of books that we keep trying to sell but never do was one I bought a couple of years ago. The topic of that book was how to price various kinds of exotic derivative contracts, as used in a range of complex ways to buy, sell, spread and mitigate risk and make loads on money for investment bankers.
Derivatives start out as nice simple ideas, but before you know it, things get very complex. And if you trade lots of derivatives with lots of other parties, you end coupled to your trading parties in lots of weird ways.
So, what started out as a possibly sensible risk management exercise becomes so complex and you end up so tied to everybody else’s success that you’ve got a Lehman-sized problem.
The trouble here is:
Complexity: it gets too hard for humans to understand what is going on. Everybody kind of pretends they do, but nobody really does.
Coupling: it gets very hard to work out how to untangle the knot of relationships you’ve created.
Trouble. So the investment bank solution was to create more and varied derivatives to cover all of that, making it worse. Pass the coke and let’s do some business.
What has this got to do with the social web? Lots.
If we layer API on top of API, and couple all our social web services together without a lot of thought about systems architecture we run the risk of making something complex, over-coupled, and utterly unstable.
And when we start building businesses on top of all of that, things get risky for those businesses indeed. And if we start relying on complex, over coupled web services, what happens when something’s business model fails and it goes into the deadpool. Could the whole lot fall over and be hard to get working again?
So, I’m thinking we need to start thinking about the discipline of social systems architecture, where we manage and look at the interconnected web as we do large distributed systems, taking note of single points of failure, instability, reliability, complexity and coupling.
Sure, we can integrate lots of social web stuff, but we need to keep a systems engineering mind while doing it. Otherwise it is a bit like running your billion dollar derivative contracts out of an Excel spreadsheet.
July 21, 2008
These slides from the training session for the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce last week. Let me know if you want us to come to your event or run a bespoke event or Masterclass.
More details on our Social Media for Good course soon (looks like next date will be Oct 3 in Brighton).
Covers a bit of an introduction to social media and blogging, plus some questions to get you thinking about your own context, opportunities and challenges.
Some good thinking in the room and animated conversations. Quite a few organisations ready to get blogging and exploring integrated social media in more depth.
A few of you made pledges are you walked out the door about your goals and intentions, so let me know how you get on!
Thanks to all for your warm feedback and to those who helped make it a positive event, especially Lorraine Bell (BCP), Tania “Radiance” Fullerton (Brighton Steiner School) and Fay McDonald.
June 8, 2008
Learning Package: Social Media for the Third Sector
New dates coming soon…
Your chance to get > share > use radical knowledge for positive impact. More information…