Posted by Allison Fine on June 24, 2008
Amazing set of speakers at the plenary this morning at PDF.
Doug Rushkoff, the author of Open Source Democracy, opened the session. He gave a passionate denunciation of the oxymoron of putting the ideas of “personal” and “democracy” together. Going back to the origins of the notion of the individual in the Renaissance, Rushkoff explained that the rights of the individual reduce a sense of community and inevitably to more centralized, and powerful, government.
This was reinforced in the last century era of top-down media that mythologized the idea that people as individuals are powerful and that they don’t need one another to collaborate to solve problems. We gave problem solving away to others, elected officials, broadcasters, corporations, in this model. The apex of this model is the idea of “branding.” In Rushkoff’s words, “The brand doesn’t want us engaged with one another , it wants us engaged with it.” Hmmm, fighten words for Millennials who are very engaged with and confident in the social responsibility of various brands.
Rushkoff wasn’t totally negative and said that new social media can create the conditions by which we can finally do things for one another in local, place-based communities.
The next speaker was Morley Winograd the co-author with Michael Hais of, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics. He gave a great overview of the demographics of Millennials and their idealism. Where we diverged was that Morley is very optimistic about Millennial participation in government and public policy beyond voting. His belief is rooted in a historical perspective of civic change generations like the Greatest Generation, the Civil War generation that preceded them. I’m not as optimistic based on the data that informed the Social Citizens paper. Worth another conversation.
Finally, Larry Lessig, professor at Stanford Law School presented. If you’ve never seen Larry present, it’s a must see – like the Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal. He gave a very persuasive presentation on the history of corruption in the US government and the grave threats to us now. I don’t have a video link for his presentation this morning, but you can the way he presents here.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: douglas rushkoff, lawrence lessig, Millennials, personal democracy forum | 1 Comment »
Posted by Allison Fine on June 23, 2008
I am at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City today and tomorrow.
You can see a live stream of the happenings at http://qik.com/video/111625.
We’ve seen a few fascinating presentations this morning. We saw a demo of Linkfluence, neat spirographs of communities of bloggers through links between blogs.
Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake website was a great example of how a blogger can taken an issue (hers was the Valerie Plame affair), run with it and build up a following. However, I questioned her “actions” boiling down to taking ads out in newspapers. It’s very MoveOn.org. Is that the best we can do, take online passions and take it to on land media?
Then Patrick Ruffini spoke, he’s a conservative blogger. He said, “A small networked group beats a large atomized group any day of the week.” Interesting — but I wonder when those small groups become impenetrable cliques?
Interesting stuff, more to come!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: firedoglake, moveon.org, personal democracy forum | 4 Comments »
Posted by Allison Fine on June 17, 2008
There is a growing trend of having Millennials on nonprofit boards. In response to our Social Citizens paper, the Salvation Army has created a board seat specifically for a young person. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that business schools, like the one at Columbia University, are placing their students as nonvoting board members at nonprofits. The win/win is that students get to see how boards and decision making works (or doesn’t work!) and boards get the input and advice of young, tech savvy budding entrepreneurs.
But, at the risk of being heretical (which I freely and willingly gravitate towards!) I’ve been wondering if nonprofit boards (I won’t address corporate boards although I’m guessing this line of argument also holds true) aren’t an anachronism of 19th century bureaucratic thinking. Poke into any nonprofit scandal over the past fifteen years and you’ll find a board that wasn’t asking the right questions of the staff (or worse where the board and senior staff were one and the same thereby nullifying the whole questioning thing!) From my experience as a board member, it is very difficult to hop in and out of the operations of an organization and have a real feel for what’s going on — and what’s in organizations that are very open and transparent and well run — imagine what it would be like trying to figure out what’s going on within an organization that is trying to hide something!
I love the idea of Millennials on nonprofit boards to liven things up — but I’d much prefer that they reinvented the whole governance system instead!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: board of directors, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Millennials, salvation army | 1 Comment »
Posted by Allison Fine on June 12, 2008
I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel last week with an incredibly smart and interesting panel; “Jay Rosen”:http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/, a leading media critic, Baratunde Thurston the web editor of The Onion, and Andrew Rasiej,the founder of Personal Democracy Forum. Our panel, The Forum on Participation and Politics Online, and was organized by Susan Crawford , the founder of One Web Day in honor New York City Internet Week.
These panelists were so impressive, they really do represent the pioneers of online activism, in Andrew’s case by creating opportunities for collective learning and lessons for using social media for political change, Jay is an incredible blogger about the ways that media coverage of politics and government are changing and influencing how we can change these areas; and Bartunde is a performer and blogger who uses a variety of media to convey his message of the need for systems change in politics and government.
The part of the converation that I enjoyed the most was the incredible moment of clarity that the panelists brought to a question I hear so often, “How am I supposed to know what to believe online?” This issue resonants particularly true for young people who get so much of their news online, it can be hard to discern truth from fiction sometimes. A few months ago I usually give a long winded answer about the wisdom of the crowd eventually enabling the truth to separate from the falsehoods online — it never really feels satisfying. But, Jay had a brilliant answer, here’s what he said: “This is what good bloggers do, they filter the news and information on other websites and blogs for you and bring it together on one site.”
Oh, now that makes good sense, doesn’t it? It was widely reported in outlets like the New York Times a few months ago that young people primarily get their news online and share links with friends – and that these friend-to-friend communications have become their reliable filters for what to trust. And that works for breaking news, but knowing tht good bloggers are out there working hard to identify and share kernels of truth about issues on an ongoing basis provides even more secure support for activists of any age.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Andrew Rasiej, Baratunde Thurston, Internet Week NYC, Jay Rosen, One Web Day | Comments Off
Posted by Allison Fine on June 9, 2008
I am often asked by museums and traditional performing arts groups how to engage Millennials in their efforts. I respond with a long-winded answer about the need to listen to them, to use their language and tools to have real conversations with them, yada, yada. Today, I saw this video courtesy of Mitch Nauffts via The Very Short List and it answers the question so much more elegantly than I’ve been doing! From now on I’m just going to send people a link here.
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Posted by Allison Fine on June 5, 2008
The Causes application on Facebook celebrated its one-year anniversary last week. I had a chance to catch up with Joe Green and Sean Parker the founders of Causes (previously known as Project Agape) this week at the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy conference.
They told me that in the first year Causes registered 12 million users who are now supporting more than 80,000 non-profit causes worldwide. $2.5 million has been raised for about 20,000 nonprofits. Facebook reports 60,000 daily users of the application. They also launched Causes on MySpace a few months ago and about 25,000 people are using Causes on that platform.
Pretty impressive first year, guys!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Causes, facebook, Joe Green, Sean Parker | Comments Off