Monthly Archives: June 2006

Don’t speak! Point! (thanks to Ethan)

So, NetSquared. Lots of good posts and commentary here. Great gathering by Compumentor of clans from charity, ngo, philanthropy, funders, technology partners and activisits to discuss where next for remixing the web of social change. This is something we don’t do yet in the UK, I wonder why..I feel a plan coming on.

Highlights for me were meeting Beth Kanter, Anne Marie Bellavance and Marshall Kirkpatrick all of whom signed the original pledge, all of whome I had been talking to online for a while. I remet Kim Spencer from Link TV whom I met 20 years ago in London when I was a fledgling producer. He’s now President of his own station it seems and filmed the whole event!

Amongst the speakers Howard Rheingold and Paul Saffo put the politics back in the mix for which I was grateful. The whole issue of network neutrality was bubbling under the two day event and it looks set to become something of daily concern. Amy Goodman was a revelation to me and a breath of fresh US air as we don’t get Democracy Now in the UK. Ethan Zuckerman (sharing a platform with Dan Gillmor and Hong Euan Tek) seemed to be blogging and presenting from his session on Citizen Journalism Nonprofit organisations and Social Change.

Ethan was primarily speaking about how the role of the advocate is changing and reflecting on the evolution of Global Voices but when the panel was asked at the end of the session by a bright spark in the audience whether Editors were still relevant these days of citizens media managed to summarise in one nifty line ” Don’t speak. Point!” everything the WE MEDIA conference didn’t manage to say in two days. “Point to People and get out of the way!” The old days of advocay as speaking on “behalf of people” are so over.

The way I see the role of the Mainstream Media in the debate about user-generated content and the blogosphere is to be a decent facilitator or moderator. It’s hard for an editor to change herself/himeself into a facilitator the skills come from different mindsets …but some are having a go. We talk about this a lot at the BBC where I work and now it’s time for the walk.

Beth Kantor’s presentation was a gift to anyone who saw it not only those in the world of the non-profit as were her great slides.

I can’t believe that my desire to meet Tara Hunt led me to her session where I finally had to confront the whole snakesonaplane thing – and on a big screen! I am seriously phobic and I don’t even like the idea being in my head. Having said that it was a great session and we talked later about barcamp, winecamp , geeks and mentoring – something to follow up if ever I catch her again, now her whole life has changed!

But the two sessions that were eyeopening for me re Mentoring Worldwide (the reason I came to the conference ) were the ones on new tools and the developing world and on what business models are good for not-for-profits …so I’ll post separately on those.

The worst session for me – run by good guys but whatever possessed them only to take questions via email and laptops? People had come a long way to be in a real room wih one another …they set up a digital divide in the room itself assuming every table had a laptop and that every laptop was connected. When I put my hand up to speak , they thought I was calling the five minute warning. By far the worst real life conference behaviour I have ever seen – is this to do with Silicon Valley? Did the speakers from Cisco and Microsoft ask for the questions to be pre-moderated? What on earth was going on…(actually I’d really like to know).

It’s possible here that a fear of potential hostility actually led to conference management behaviour which engendered hostility…and we all had stuff to say even though that was the session with the biggest gap in understanding between the panel and the floor. Why am I bovvered? Because I go to and organise conferences and this is a new one on me!

And since it would be deeply churlish to end on this note – I’ll mention instead a couple of people I found inspirational when I bumped into them at tables, in the lift – wherever. First Ginny Hunt of America’s Impact – you’d have no idea what she does from that org name however they are campaining to get candidates elected on the basis of their interest in a progressive foreign policy – now there’s a thing.

America’s Impact is a new political action committee that helps concerned Americans elect good candidates with a global commitment to support policies that improve people’s lives.

I wish her and the team all the best – it’s a great idea. And last but not at all least Lee Davis co-founder and CEO of Nesst who gets my vote for best business card and who kindly took some time to hear about mentoring worldwide, share thoughts and get me running for my notebook (yes , pen and paper).

Ok – pesonal disclaimer time.this post contains my personal views – any views expressed here are my own and not my employer’s. I am so never going to be a live blogger. Thanks Ethan how do you do it? Blogging and presenting at the same time, that is!

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