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January 06, 2007

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Dan Bassill

Another quote from Network Centric Advocacy is "As a movement, we must "Open your data and services for re-use by others, and re-use the data and services of others whenever possible. "

By linking to each other, and participating in each other's forums, we're applying some elements of this concept.

If we focus our efforts on building networks of donors, volunteers, non profit leaders, policy makers, community members, etc. who all are concerned about the same issues, we build the type of 2.0 networked community that O'Reilly is describing.

Those who take the lead in this, to paraphrase O'Rielly "Being first or best, will attract the most users, and if your application truly harnesses network effects to get better the more people use it, you will eventually build barriers to entry based purely on the difficulty of
building another such database from the ground up when there's already so
much value somewhere else. (This is why no one has yet succeeded in displacing eBay. Once someone is at critical mass, it's really hard to get people to try something else, even if the software is better.)

If Tutor/Mentor Connection builds appeals to enough people who want to help inner city kids reach jobs/careers, it will fit this description, just as Gift Hub will, if it draws enough people together who focus on charity and philanthropy.

I can't describe in one phrase everything I have been doing to create the Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1994, but I can point to sites like Network Centric Advocacy and say "I'm applying a lot of what they are writing about."

Phil

Interesting, Dan. No doubt this is an opportune time to grow online civic networks to scale. Money comes into this too. It would sure be nice to see funders jumpstart promising intiatives. (I am not seeking funding myself, but a few dollars in the right places would create rallying points that would then attract users who would then bring the project to scale with the "network effects" that come from it being a "hive" of user generated activity and cross connection.

Dan Bassill

Phil, One philosophy that I have in common with many for profit entrepreneurs is "Build it and the money will follow."

While most new non profits struggle to find funding, I think that social networking via the internet can create a critical mass of visibility and traffic that can generate revenue from traditional and non traditional means.

In the blogs I read this morning there was one that talked of ways to generate income from amassing "knowledge". Google is super rich because their site is visited by so many people that it offers value to advertisers.

If non profits connect in huge social networks and find ways to attract millions of people every day through their connected blogs and web sites, I feel there will be similar opportunities to generate revenue.

While I can't prove this yet, there's no cost in trying.

Phil

I agree. Omidyar.net took a shot at it, but after a couple of years, it still has not taken off, not like eBay or whatever. Still, we are now beginning to see a critical mass of giving blogs. I just wish there was more blog to blog conversation and linking going on. We need to get past our having a Soapbox as individuals and begin to attract a wider range of participants, not just subscribers and readers. Linking to one another, and leaving comments, is one way to start. "From conversation to collaboration" might be the motto.

Dan Bassill

I think this may have to become an acquired habit. I've been trying to reach into high schools and colleges to find service learning partners who will teach these habits as part of on-going school projects. Educators have a captive audience and can stretch out this learning over many years. Some day in the future college graduates will have these habits hardwired into the way they think and operate, IF....

IF we can get some education people to work with us to find ways to integrate what we're talking about in teaching and learning.

Phil

Younger people seem to do this more naturally than their elders. The readers here "subscribe" and are quite passive for the most part. What this is, really, post by post, is an invitation to conversation. Each post is just a gambit to provoke conversation that might lead to shared understandings and collaboration. But, as a culture, we are quite "spectatorial," listening to talking heads do our thinking for us.

Dan Bassill

We really think quite alike. I consider my entire web site, and most of what I post in various forums as an invitation to others.

Phil

Yes, unless others participate it is like throwing a party only to eat the pizza all by yourself.

Albert Ruesga

I feel tugged in so many directions when I go on the Net. Two hundred matronly aunts with too much perfume inviting me to sit in their salons and chat.

Phil

Well, no need to chat here. Let's go out back for a smoke.

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