Blogs as an example of a tool that could be used by nonprofits

NetSquared's picture Instant Podcast, Just Add Feed. (Get Real) - Automated blog to podcast service [ feed for net2 tag]

It's still in a closed alpha but the link above will take you to a review of  This is a great example, I think, of the kind of tools that could be tremendously beneficial to nonprofits.  Imagine:

  • Making site updates, calendars or anything else that can go into an RSS feed available to users with different levels of literacy
  • ...or folks who are visually impaired
  • ...or kids who have mp3 plays hanging off their bodies (iPods, phones)

Just a thought.

What do we mean when we say "remixing the web for social change"?

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Sean Coons at connecting*the*dots writes about the ways that social tools, most particularly tagging, intersects with social change. Here's a long quote:

The complete disregard of the intelligence and voice of the American citizen begins to explain the groundswell of blogging that has occurred over the past four years, specifically the political blogs and mainstream media watchdog sites. Across any time period in human history, technological advances go hand-in-hand with human motivation. While most of the time the potential for capital gains plays a large role in the motivation to advance technology, moral conviction has the ability to drive both the evolution of technology and the passion to leverage it to it's fullest degree. So what's the connection between geo-political events and blogging and the tactical fervor of Web 2.0? (social bookmarking, tagging, open source, open content, etc.) In a nutshell: everything.

Two Takes on Tunis

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Last Friday, reports began to appear on the ending of the WSIS conference in Tunisia. Here's the lede from the Associated Press story...

A crucial summit on expanding Internet access around the world ended Friday with a firm promise to narrow the digital divide — but little in government funding to make it happen.

The World Summit on the Information Society originally was conceived to raise consciousness about the divide between the haves and have-nots, and to raise money for projects to link up the global village, particularly Africa and Asia and South America.

But instead, it was overshadowed by a lingering resentment about who should oversee the domain names and technical issues that allow people from Pakistan to Peru surf Web sites for information, news and consumer goods.

And from another report from the BBC

Amidst exceedingly tight security, world leaders, civic groups, non-governmental groups, representatives from leading global technology companies, journalists and bloggers converged in what was the biggest global event to come to Tunis.

But the summit was most notable for palpable tension during the events organised by civil society groups who called for action to balance the rights of all digital citizens in a global information society to freedom of expression.

In a statement, the US delegation expressed disappointment that the Tunisian government "did not take advantage of this important opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to freedom of expression and assembly in Tunisia".

It's live!

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Well, the sneak preview isn't so sneak or so preview anymore.  As you can see the design is live.  I've gotten a few emails to tell me about some buggy behavior -- thanks and keep them coming.  You can also drop a comment on this post and we'll address the bugs as they come up.

I want to give a big thanks to duoh and Floatleft for their hard work on getting the design and implementation done.  And, of course, none of it would happening without hosting and lots of assistance from Bryght

Meet The Dream Geek Team for Free Speech Online

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Source:  Global Voices Online, Rebecca MacKinnon

From a post on Global Voices, Rebecca MacKinnon writes "These guys are basically the dream geek team for free speech on line. They gave instructions in detail about how non-governmental organizations, human rights groups, and individuals trying to speak the truth under dangerous circumstances can secure their communications and data, and minimize the likelihood that people will get caught or arrested as a result of their work." 

welcome to the world of wiki

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wikimedia logoA couple days ago, ZDnet published an interesting (to me) overview of WikiMedia and the many projects the underlying tools have spawned. if you're new to wikis -- and what they can do for your nonpropfit org -- this painless aerial tour isn't a bad place to begin. The following is from Wiki news: Of the people, by the people...

The popularity and proliferation of wikis are particularly significant in an age of increasing distrust of mainstream media. In many ways, wikis are emblematic of the democratizing principles of the Information Age that seek to give voice to ordinary citizens.

"With the distributed nature of the Internet, you now have the ability for people with common interests to rapidly aggregate themselves and apply their nearly unbounded knowledge of different subjects into cohesive organization in a matter of hours," said Rob Kline a product manager for Marchex who helped create the wiki. "Because it's distributed, it's global, so when I have to go to sleep, someone else can pick it up and keep working on it."

Wikis began in various forms, but it was the online encyclopedia known as Wikipedia that propelled the concept into the popular consciousness. Wikipedia and Wikinews were created by the same nonprofit organization, Wikimedia Foundation, and are available free of charge.

ping meltdown - reposted from sfbg

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i thought this was an interesting article:

by annalee newitz

Ping meltdown

WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE think of the pings?

These little scribbles of data are the lines that connect the dots in the world of blog-style publishing. Named after an old-school command in UNIX that allows one computer to ask another whether it's alive, pings on the modern Web are a quick way for bloggers to alert the world when they've updated their sites.

Say I post something excellent to my blog, but I don't want to wait for Google to index it or for random geeks to stumble across it. I send a ping alert – a tiny document in a special format – to something called a ping server, which is like a centralized bulletin board that lists every new blog post it's been pinged about.

WSIS Flash - Freedom Toaster

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Jody Mahoney also sends this:

Go immediately to this website if you aren't lucky enough to be at WSIS and see it in person. Empowered by the Shuttleworth Foundation, the FREEDOM TOASTER (think Bring & Burn) is a CD/DVD kiosk stand where, for the cost of a CD, you walk up, push a button, pop in your CD, and burn whatever open source software you need. No charge. No muss. No fuss. Just the cost of a CD. Freedom toasters in South African locations, East London, and a few other cool sites.

Blogs and RSS are also about voice

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More sent in from WSIS, by Jody Mahoney:

Urls and websites of some of the CSO participants at WSIS have been blocked by the Tunisian government. The Swiss President was censored on Tunisian television. I travel each day through multiple armed checkpoints & roadblocks in order to get from my hotel to the Kram expo. We go through security screening everywhere.

I am seeing the use of blogs and RSS aggregators in a very different light from my understanding of their use in the US. In the US, I considered them tools for networking and information exchange/dialogue. In Tunis, however, one begins to understand the compelling argument for free and open source information exchange--the more blogs, RSS aggregators, community radios, and open source tools, the greater chance there is for information to slip through the ranks of censors and out to the public. As Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate said yesterday, "...human rights defenders--the writers, translators, are imprisoned--their only crime freedom of expression."


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