Of NetSquared, the Well, the Moment...and the Wikipedia Bustup

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Net2 has a particular, personal resonance for me.

I started CompuMentor in 1987 after spending time on the Well, one of the first online communities. I met Howard Rheingold and John Coate there, and a bunch of other really smart people. Most importantly, at least from my standpoint, was that the Well seemed to me an inflection point, a new game in town, a "moment".  

It wasn't about the technology. For me, it's never about the technology. It was about social relations. You could talk to people in a different way; there was a different resonance to the conversation and because of that, different resources could be 'liberated' for social change. CompuMentor--which was based on the simple idea that we could create a viable structure for high level, in person technology volunteering at nonprofit sites--was an attempt to act on that idea.

Update From The NetSquared Crew: Net Tuesday

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We'd like to invite you all to join us for our second Net Tuesday event in San Francisco! It will be held on Tuesday, December 13 at Balazo Gallery (2183 Mission Street @ 18th St. Doors open at 6 pm.

Ed Batista, Executive Director of Attention Trust, will show you how to stand up for your attention rights, while Seth Sternberg will demo web-based IM app Meebo.

Come and mingle with Bay Area web innovators and social change agents for demos,
discussions and drinks! Email for more details on how to join the movement to remix the web for social change.

Voices for Peace and 501c3cast

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Two new case studies have been added to NetSquared in Action over the last couple days:

New Orleans Voices for Peace, a group providing Internet access, website hostng, media development and training for partnering organizations and communities affected by the Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

501c3cast Podcast for Nonprofits, an independent podcast for and about nonprofit professionals, volunteers and people who are interested in the nonprofit sector.

Balancing Innovation and Effective Communication

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In beginning my reading of the Four Questions page and the Netsquared Case Studies section, I've had a few thoughts I thought I'd share here. Things I know I'm going to give more thought to and probably be including in my questions to some of the groups I interview here.

Here's the first one. How do we balance the use of new terms to describe new technologies with the strategic utilization of terms more familiar to our constituents? Do we use similes in explaining what we are doing ("RSS is like subscribing to an email newsletter, only it's a different and better inbox") or do we try to explain what's actually happening and risk some cognitive dissonance on the part of all but early adopters and geeks? ("RSS utilizes a second language (XML) that your content is published in and that's easier to manipulate and add metadata to than the HTML your browser reads.

My first case study and blog musings

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I created my first case study here on Net2 last night. It's just a short description of my podcast and a little about why/how I produce the show. I really enjoyed the process of having to think of a concise way to sum up what is often a very organic and changing project for me. I'm looking forward to finding other topics that would make good case studies.

I'm excited to see that people are beginning to contribute content to the Net2 site. It really is starting to shape into the vision that the people with TechSoup/CompuMentor had in mind! Britt Bravo, the Community Builder of NetSquared, is doing an awesome job! She is encouraging and excited to find new content to share with others. She's a great example of the axiom that the success of a team project is built upon the accomplishments of individuals.

What makes something NetSquared?

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So, we have these case studies up. And the volunteers are adding to them all the time. But we haven't really talked about what the selection process is. What makes a Net2 project?

Let me tell you what I think we know about Net2 projects:

  • they are working to advance social change;
  • they use the Internet;
  • the tools are social in nature;
  • there is something about them that makes them interesting.


Right, so it's that last bullet point that's tough. One of those "I know it when I see it" things. What makes something interesting?


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