29 October 2010

Friday Top 5

This weekend is, of course, Halloween. In honor of that, my Top 5 favorite spooky books:

(Realize that I'm not a big horror fan, so if you're looking for Stephen King, you're in the wrong place.)
  1. The Fall of the House of Usher. Nobody does creepy like Poe.
  2. And Then There Were None. Great Agatha Christie in which 10 people are trapped on an island by storm and are being picked off, one at a time.
  3. The Poseidon Adventure. My mom let me read this the summer before 6th grade. I was a late night reader when I wasn't in school, and I loved this book and couldn't put it down, but also my vivid imagination wouldn't let me sleep after picturing those trapped people trying to make their way through a world turned upside down.
  4. Dracula by Bran Stoker. Only down side? I tend to root for the bad guy, and Dracula loses in the end.
  5. Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier's book is really more of a gothic romance, but it's also quite creepy.

Image credit: BBC 2007 pumpkin gallery

28 October 2010

Social Media Engagement, Mashable Style

Great presentation about social media engagement from Mashable's Adam Hirsch:

27 October 2010

What I'm Reading

  • Did you hear? Homeland Security is spying on us in yet another forum: social media and other forms of online participation. Not that that's surprising in and of itself. What is disturbing is that their list of monitored sites only seems to include progressive/left sites. Uh, guys? Timothy McVeigh wasn't a big DailyKos reader, and I don't think the Saudi September 11 hijackers were big NPR donors. Can you say "barking up the wrong tree"? I think you can.
  • Surprise, surprise - Farmville shares your data with outside firms. Which is fine if it's you choosing to play Farmville (and me choosing to block it), but it's not so OK that Farmville's sharing MY data with outside firms.
  • Good content isn't good enough - you also need to provide a call to action and say things the right way.
  • More on content creation - keywords, it turns out, are the key. 
  • Which is better for online marketing - Facebook or Twitter? Well, Facebook gets more traffic, but Twitter gets more clicks.Which matters to you?
  • Rohit Bhargava asks: what's the ROI of a conversation
  • Andy Sernovitz asks: what if you fired not just all the complete screw-ups, but all the average performers
  • Seth Godin goes on the warpath against willful ignorance, and it's good reading.
  • What your FB photo says about you.
  • Another Seth Godin good one:  atypical ways to show your strength.
  • What NOT to do with your association's Facebook Page.
  • Talkers and listeners - turns out you need to HIRE both, too (by Maggie McGary for the SocialFish).
  • At the end of the day...Grammar Girl can help you write better. 
  • Currently reading American Psycho on the Kindle, after having recently finished Disco Bloodbath and Bonfire of the Vanities. It's NYC in the 80's month up in here, I guess. The writing in American Psycho leaves a little to be desired, and I don't think I've EVER read more tiresome, less sexy sex scenes. But the larger themes of the vapidity of consumer culture and what it does to those who buy into it are well-examined. I strongly suspect that everything that's going on is taking place only in Patrick Bateman's mind, and that he's having some sort of psychotic break. I also love the continuing theme of mistaken identity, and how it doesn't actually seem to matter to any of the characters - basically, everyone's interchangeable. I know it gets explicitly - and disturbingly - violent later on, but I'm planning to skim over those scenes if they bother me. 

26 October 2010

Here Comes Clay Shirky

Continuing my irregular "What I highlighted and why while reading Here Comes Everybody" series.
Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about.

Cory Doctorow, as quoted by Clay Shirky, Chapter 4, p. 99.
I love how this turns the "content is king" trope on its head. Sure, good content is important, but if a blog post falls in the forest and no one talks about it, does it make a difference?

Yeah, this kind of minimizes the role of lurkers, and we do know that the majority of people online and on social media are lurkers (although I do wonder if the 90-9-1 rule still holds), but as Jeff Hurt reminds us, it's not the information that matters - it's the engagement. Reading the most amazing blog post ever doesn't make me feel a part of a community - interacting with people does.

Associations have historically provided content - LOTS of content, LOADS of content, TONS of content - to our members, but, other than our annual meetings, we aren't great at encouraging conversation, particularly not if we don't get to be one of the participants.

I hope that's in the process of changing. It certainly needs to change, and people - our members - are figuring out ways to talk to each other, with or without us.

25 October 2010

Always the Last to Know: Ushahidi

Ushahidi, which means "testimony" in Swahili , is an open source platform that can be used by anyone on the fly to collect and report on information.  It's generally used to help track what's happening in humanitarian crises.

They actually have a white paper that explains it far better than I just did, but how cool is this?

For more on Ushahidi, check out the profile of inventor David Kobia in Technology Review.  

22 October 2010

Friday Top 5

Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of Make a Difference Day.  There are some official events going on locally here in DC, which I won't be able to participate in, but I thought I'd share my top 5 favorite ways to make a difference:
  1. Pick up trash on my street.  Hey, I'm picking up now, or I'm fishing it out of the Anacostia next September.
  2. Work with young professionals. Assisting members of the first class of ASAE's Leadership Academy has been the best volunteer gig I've ever done with ASAE.
  3. Be a good neighbor.  Whether it's loaning tools, bringing in mail while they're on vacation, helping with raking and snow shoveling, or making sure to invite them whenever we throw a really big party, getting to know and help my neighbors (particularly the fabulous older lady who's lived on the block longer than I've been alive) has been terrific.
  4. Give money locally.  No offense to the World Wildlife Fund, but my donation,even though it feels big to me, isn't even going to be noticed over there.  Giving that same amount to House of Ruth?  HUGE for them - and for me.
  5. Join a CSA.  This was my first summer doing a farm share with Shallowbrook Farms.  Our last box arrived on October 6, and I already can't wait for next May! 
How do you make a difference in the world?

21 October 2010

Riffing - You're Doing It Right!

OK, so Old Spice Man was cool, and then Cisco tried to riff on it and blew it, and NTEN riffed on it, and It Was Good. But NOBODY puts Grover in the corner!

How does this relate to associations? You can totally steal someone else's good idea and it can work, as long as you remain true to yourself and your organizational culture in how you implement it.

20 October 2010

What I'm Reading

I'm on a plane on my way back from the 2010 NACHRI Annual Leadership Conference today, so not much reading happened this week. I thought I'd share a list of my favorite books from when I was a kid instead:
  • Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine - two classic books by Robert McClosky.  We went to Maine for vacation the summer when I was 3, and these books always reminded me of that magic time.
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams.  My disintegrating paperback copy of this is still on my bookshelves.  The heroic tale of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and the other survivors of the Sandleford warren still makes me cry.
  • The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books - hilarious books by Betty Macdonald that teach children how to behave while also making their parents giggle.
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White - I played Charlotte in the school play, you know.
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - after reading this E. L. Konigsburg gem, I secretly dreamed of running away and hiding out in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • Harriet the Spy - what misfit little girl DOESN'T love Louise Fitzhugh's memorable heroine?
  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton.  I spent YEARS looking for Borrowers in just about every house I entered.
  • Kermit the Hermit - all Bill Peet books are charming, but the one about the grumpy, greedy crab was my favorite.
  • The Giving Tree - The subtleties of Shel Silverstein's classic are probably lost on kids, but I still loved the simple story of the tree that loved the little boy.
  • A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet - this fantastic fantasy series by Madeleine L'Engle rocked my world in elementary school.
  • Anything by Dr. Seuss, particularly The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.  Although my mother swears Fox in Socks was my favorite (and her least, to read aloud anyway).
  • Nancy Drew books - although I preferred the earlier ones, by the original "Carolyn Keene."  My friends and I used to swap these.  And who didn't love plucky, brave Nancy? Ned was so unworthy of her, but at least she always had Bess and George at her side.
By now, I've bought most of these for my nieces and nephew, but I think I need to go get some copies for myself (or liberate them from my parents' basement the next time I visit).

19 October 2010

Social Media Screw-Ups: A Brief History

From a great article in Ad Age about what they can teach us:

18 October 2010

Always the Last to Know: Diaspora

Diaspora is the first open source social network. Can it take on FB? It's still in beta, so it's hard to know yet, and it's important to note that there are questions about the suitability of the open source approach to a social network, however it looks promising, at least initially.

15 October 2010

Friday Top 5

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's topic is water. In honor of that, today's Friday Top 5 is the Top 5 Facts About Water:
  1. Unclean water/lack of sanitation kills more people each year than all violence including war (Blog Action Day blog)
  2. Water scarcity affects 1 in 3 people around the globe (World Health Organization)
  3. Many environmentalists are predicting that global climate change combined with population increases and pollution will lead to water wars within the next 50 years (Water Wars Worldwide)
  4. Women bear the brunt of the work in collecting water, which negatively impacts their ability to educate and care for themselves and their children, which in turn is one of the most effective ways to lift communities out of poverty (charity:water and Third World Network)
  5. This affects the US too - 40% of American rivers and 46% of American lakes are too polluted for swimming or fishing (DoSomething.org)
So what can you do?
  • Educate yourself about the issues by, say, reading this post!
  • Reduce your consumption of water.
  • Reduce storm runoff by planting trees and rain gardens, installing rain barrels and green roofs, selecting native plants and using permeable pavers (among other things).  Live in DC?  The DC DOE has money available for all of the above through their River Smart Homes program.
  • Donate your time and/or money to a water charity.  One of my favorites is the annual Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup (the last Saturday of September each year).
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle!  Anything you can do to cut down on the amount of stuff you throw away reduces the pollution that flows into our waterways.

14 October 2010

Doing Well While Doing Good

As if you needed another reason to participate in "Plays Well With Others" next Thursday (October 21), aka Layla Masri, Lynn Morton and I giving an encore performance of our awesome session from this year's ASAE Annual Meeting, Higher Logic is donating $1 to breast cancer research for attendee at any of their October learning series webinars. 

Get the details at http://www.higherlogic.com/breastcancermonth.

Register (it's FREE, y'all!) here.

13 October 2010

What I'm Reading

  • Is your nonprofit stuck on stupid?
  • Facebook Pages:  ur doin it wrong
  • Better webinars, courtesy of Marketing Sherpa blog. 
  • Which is better:  SEO or PPC?  Depends on what you're trying to do.
  • Want killer engagement?  Provide a call to action EVERY time. 
  • What we can learn about customer service from the service industry.
  • Jamie Notter on election season and the myth of individual leadership.
  • More on leadership from The Hourglass Blog - are Xers the "well, duh!" generation? 
  • Reading Disco Bloodbath, the James St. James book that was the basis for the excellent movie Party Monster.  I never was a club kid myself, but I have friends who were club kids in DC (which means there was FAR less mayhem), and I have to say, they always threw the best parties...

12 October 2010

Let Your Audience Tell Your Story

Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA (NACHRI member, of course) sponsored a contest earlier this year asking patients to help tell the story of the good work the hospital does. This adorable rap video was the result:

What can you do to invite your audiences in to tell the story of your organization?

11 October 2010

Always the Last to Know: FB Groups

Does FB finally understand that I might not want every contact to see every thing about me? Maybe....

07 October 2010

Looking Ahead: Blog Action Day 2010 - Water

Fascinating TED talk by conservationist Romulus Whitaker about the REAL danger in the water:

06 October 2010

What I'm Reading

05 October 2010

A Swing and a Miss

I was out picking up lunch the other day when I was accosted on the street by one of the ubiquitous (at least in the DC area) attractive young people attempting to raise funds for a national charity (whose t-shirt he was wearing). 

The pitches usually range from annoying ("Do you have a minute for X cause today?" Uh, I might have a minute, but we both know that's not what you actually want...) to the downright offensive ("Do you care about X cause?" thus implying that if I don't open up my wallet for you on the street, I'm a hard-hearted jackass.)

Obviously, the practice works (otherwise they wouldn't do it), but I wonder if there's any way to calculate (or even estimate) what it costs them in lost revenue from people who, like me, get really annoyed and vow as a result never to give to that organization?

So what's the moral of the story for associations?  Don't annoy the audience you're trying to reach, even if it seems like it might be effective - for every person who gives you $5, there are countless others who've now decided your organization will NEVER be worth their support (and some of them might've been worth a lot more than $5 to you).

04 October 2010

Always the Last to Know: TR35

 As long-time readers know, I love MIT's Technology Review. Published 6 times a year, it's my bimonthly dose of geek awesomeness.

I particularly love their annual 35 top innovators under 35 issue, which just arrived recently.  They cover the Web, communications, materials (actual hard science), biomedicine, energy and computing and give us a preview of the thinking and inventions that will change our world in the coming years.  Definitely check it out.

01 October 2010

Friday Top 5

This Friday? My Top 5 Top 5s (how meta!):
  1. The Top 5 Things That Inspire Me.
  2. My Top 5 Favorite Mentoring Tips.
  3. Top 5 Customer Service Lessons. (features a BONUS additional 5)
  4. Top 5 Bourbon Facts.
  5. My Top 5 Favorite Cocktails (with recipes)