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June 28 2013

00:51

[Net2 Seattle] VIDEO: Social Media + Traditional Media = Crazy Awesome!

NetSquared Seattle
Do you want the media to cover your kick ass web video, interactive website or compelling blog series? Ever thought of pitching a journalist with social media?
 

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June 20 2013

03:27

[Net2 Seattle] Getting to the Good Bits

Originally posted on We will find a way by Randy Earle

Randy and NetSquared Seattle“Social Media + Traditional Media = Crazy Awesome!” Sponsored by Net Squared Greater Seattle. Location: Northwest Work Lofts, 3131 Western Avenue, Suite 303, Seattle, WA.

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July 05 2011

22:51

Awesome Foundation Seattle Community Meeting

On Thursday, June 30, 20+ Seattle residents came out for the first local Awesome Foundation community meeting. On behalf of my co-organizer, Tommer Peterson and myself, a big thanks for those who joined us.

We met coders, artists, activists, co-working enthusiasts, and at least one roboticist – a truly awesome mix.  Lots of people couldn’t attend, but wanted to get involved, so here’s our follow up post, as promised.

Read on for:

  • A quick overview of the meeting
  • Information about next steps
  • Notes from the Q&A session

If you already know for sure that you want to get involved and weren’t at the meeting, head over to our Awesome Foundation Commitment Form.  If you are new to Awesome Foundation Seattle, you can read our initial invitation post and my personal note about why I’m psyched to get AF Sea started.

Our Proposal

Tommer welcomes participants

After a getting-to-know you warmup, Tommer introduced the basic Awesome Foundation concept – 10 people (aka “Trustees”) giving $100 and collectively sharing a $1000 grant to the most awesome proposal each month. Awesome Foundation chapters are sprouting all over the world, and Seattle will probably be the 20th chapter.

I talked about a vision for community engagement beyond the basic giving model.  Once we get good at making grants, I’d love to discuss an awesome group blog for Seattle, highlighting everything that makes the city great and helping to identify potential grant applicants.  Maybe we could have awesome volunteer days or give a larger, special grant once a year.

There’s a lot of potential, and our direction will be determined collectively by those who get involved early.

To build that broader engagement, we want to shake up the basic model a bit.  Tommer and I proposed 4 basic participation levels:

  1. Full-time Trustees: people who can make the $100/mo commitment for the first consecutive 6 months. This group will form the foundation of the foundation, make the first critical decisions about how the chapter will operate, and review grant applications each month.
  2. Guest Trustees: for folks who want to participate at a lower financial level.  Guest Trustees join the full-time Trustees for at least 1 month (or more) out of the first 6 and review grant applications in those months when they are making a contribution.
  3. Friends of Awesome: aka “Volunteers!” A number of folks have expressed support of the Awesome Foundation idea, but are not able to participate financially. We do need volunteers in several capacities. Let us know if you would like to help design, build and manage our local WordPress blog; organize events; and/or support our efforts to publicize grant opportunities
  4. Grant Applicants: The all-important piece of the puzzle.  We’ll always be looking for fresh, exciting proposals.

Next steps

A mingling of awesome

After the post-meeting mingle, everyone filled out a form indicating their level of commitment. What’s next?

Step 1) If you missed the meeting and want to get involved, it’s very important that you fill out the online Awesome Foundation Commitment Form.  Please fill it out by Monday, June 11.

Step 2) Tommer and I will take all of the input from the paper and online forms and do our best to put together a great mix of full-time and guest Trustees.  We’ll send invitations to join that firs group and take final confirmations.

Step 3) Within a couple of weeks, we’ll announce our first group of Trustees and a calendar for future guest Trustees.

Step 4) Trustees will convene to decide and announce our grant-making calendar.

Step 5) The awesome commences – taking applications and making grants by the end of the summer.

Q&A

Participants had lots of questions.  Tommer and I want to make sure everyone understands that we don’t hold all the answers.  Instead, we’ll be looking to our fellow Trustees and Friends of Awesome to guide the way as we get started in Seattle.

Q: What’s the mission statement of Awesome Foundation? What kind of work are you looking to fund?

A: Unlike most initiatives, AF doesn’t have a tight focus on any particular area of work.  Grants from other chapters have focused on the arts, technology, and fun community engagement.  In fact, there’s a new international chapter focused on Food.  The mission of Awesome Foundation Seattle will be as broad and deep as our the imaginations of our Trustees, Friends and Applicants allow.  You can read the shared mission statement here and scan grants that have been given in other cities on the shared blog.

Q: What’s the decision-making process – quorum? majority of trustees? does it need to be unanimous?

A: Every chapter is free to choose its own process.  There is a draft Trustee manual that lays out decision models from several cities, and the first Seattle Trustees will have to decide how to decide.

Q: Would grant applicants be encouraged to reapply?

A: Yes!  Based on the experience of other chapters, we will want to stay in touch with applicants who don’t receive a grant in any given month and encourage them to keep old and new proposals flowing.

Q: Will there be parties?

A: Absolutely!  As often as we can, we’ll want to celebrate our grantees and invite more people to meet and mix with us to keep the awesome growing.

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May 30 2011

00:31

Seattle Needs Awesome and Awesome Needs You

All over the world, people are working together to forward the interest of awesomeness in the universe, and it is time for Seattle to join their ranks.

I’m talking about the Awesome Foundation, and we* want you to help form the Seattle chapter.

Are you in? Fill out this very brief interest form and help spread the word through your networks.

Need more info? Read on…

Awesome Foundation is a global of community of good folks experimenting with simple, lightweight funding structures that foster the creation of surprise and delight.  Every month, each chapter gives one $1000 grant to the most awesome application.  Grants can go to efforts in the arts, sciences, magic, poetry, civic engagement, new media…. you name it.  Grants are unrestricted and may go to individuals, non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, or other entities. There are no reporting requirements; this is a relationship built on trust.

Funds are contributed by Awesome Foundation trustees, who collectively make the granting decisions. Most Awesome Foundations have ten trustees who contribute $100 a month. In Seattle we’re are trying to build a diverse, accessible chapter.  We are considering a larger group of trustees, allowing for more participation by lowering the financial commitment.

We will be joining a rapidly growing family of Awesome Foundation chapters around the world.  This is philanthropy for the rest of us.  If you want to consider joining as a founding trustee or would like to be informed when we start taking grant applications, fill out our very brief interest form. We’ll invite everyone to a get-together over food and drink to talk it over and move forward. Please try to signal your interest by Saturday, June 4th.

Learn more at awesomefoundation.org.

Why does Seattle need Awesome Foundation?

Seattle is too awesome not to have an Awesome Foundation chapter.  How awesome is Seattle? Let me count some ways…

That’s just scratching the surface of awesome activity in our back yard.  We believe that out there in this dynamic mix are hundreds of ideas that could get a start or a boost with a 1,000 bucks and some community love.

Awesome Foundation is an opportunity to make Seattle even more awesome by inter-networking our creative communities.

Why should you be an Awesome Foundation Seattle Trustee?

  • You are already an ambassador of awesome, a community maven, a dedicated activist, a mover and a shaker.
  • You’re looking for a fun, new way to make friends and build your community.
  • You believe that people-powered, decentralized networks can build a better Seattle and a better world.

Bonus: according to tradition, chapters generally grant the first person holding a trustee slot the right to title that position for all future occupants of the slot on the board (e.g. The Tim Hwang Chair for Higher Awesome Studies).

Are you ready to get it started? Sign up to come to a dinner and learn more.

While you’re at it, please share this post widely across all of your awesome networks.

* Who are we?

The founders of Awesome Foundation Seattle are:

  • Tommer Peterson: Long time Seattle resident, artist, theater-guy, rabble-rouser, and deputy director of Grantmakers in the Arts. Age 61.
  • Nathaniel James: Consultant, digital activist, community builder and social entrepreneur, working at the intersection of technology, media, advocacy and the arts. Recently returned to Seattle after 3 years living and working in Washington, DC. Serves on the board of National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. Age 32.

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May 25 2011

14:50

Can Seattle Save the World? Project Argo Event Takes on Global Health

Last month, about 700 people packed an auditorium in Seattle, not for a Microsoft developer's conference, but to discuss whether the city's burgeoning global health movement can eradicate disease and poverty across the globe. It was a live forum sponsored by public radio station KPLU and its Project Argo blog, Humanosphere. The event was provocatively named, "Can Seattle Save the World? (Poverty, Health and Chocolate)."

Town-Hall-full-panel-sized.jpg

It's exactly the kind of event we had in mind when we began working with NPR member stations last year on Argo. We'd been hoping that the offline and online worlds could collide in a way that would lead to serious discussion around weighty topics.

"The idea of community engagement is always something we'd hoped for in a variety of ways," said Jennifer Strachan, assistant general manager and director of public media at KPLU. "Our struggle was, what kind of a topic could draw a crowd around global health?"

For those of us who are evangelists of digital storytelling or espouse certain philosophies at conferences that usually start with, "The future of" in it, this is another way to measure that elusive "engagement" metric we all talk about. Certainly, we can't ignore critical web analytics -- uniques, pageviews, comments. But when you fill a large venue at $10 a head, you've tapped into something important.

Humanosphere blog

KPLU's Humanosphere is one of 12 NPR Project Argo blogs, whose mission is to develop deep content in a niche vertical that's critical to a local community but resonates nationally.

The Seattle-based site draws modest traffic numbers, punctuated with spikes when writing of global health/poverty issues more broadly in the news (see Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea" scandal).

But on this night, those who turned out to listen and ask questions acted as if they were going to see rock stars, Strachan said.

Tom Paulson, Humanosphere blogger and the evening's host, is most definitely an unlikely rock star. But he's been covering the growing movement in Seattle -- that goes far beyond the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- for years as a newspaper reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Paulson brought in experts from the Gates Foundation, the University of Washington, PATH and Theo Chocolates (hence the "and chocolate" in the title).

The event was live-blogged on Humanosphere, videotaped for Seattle's municipal cable TV channel, and tweeted via its own hashtag, #SEAsaves.

Engaging Young People

While Paulson said he's aware that influentials in the global health space like Humanosphere, he noted, "One thing that was confirmed for me is how big a deal this is for young people. A huge number of people in the crowd were college age or in their 20s. I was surprised at the sophistication of the questions, diversity of opinion, and the excitement for the subject matter."

So the question for Humanosphere is what practical effect the event will have on the blog itself going forward. The answer so far is that it has done little to increase traffic on the blog. Paulson admits the evening was long on policy and short on pitching the blog to this crowd, perhaps something he might do a bit more of next time. And yes, Paulson does expect there to be another live event in the fall.

But for KPLU, and its potential funders, the message on this night was there is an engaged community in Seattle willing to engage in a serious discussion about disease and poverty, and that public radio can be the impetus for that conversation.

As to whether Seattle can actually save the world, Paulson provided the answer to the gathering in the first five minutes. "We were kind of kidding around with the title. Obviously Seattle can't save the world. Bill Gates can't even probably save Zune."

September 30 2010

16:00

Lesson from a tech startup: Sometimes you need a human

The Internet makes buying and selling things easier than ever. Who needs a salesperson when you can click and buy anonymously? When it comes to selling ads, though, that human element hasn’t lost all its value. A tech company in Seattle called Instivate initially planned to build its business on its technology — but it’s discovered that sometimes even a great tool still needs a person.

Instivate started four years ago, offering a free CMS called Neighborlogs, aimed at local news sites. The CMS comes with InstiAds, a tool that lets sites serve their own ads at their own rates. Instivate takes a 20-percent cut for all ads sold. InstiAds is also available as a standalone product, working with most other backends a small site might use, like WordPress. The founders thought the set of tools would be a big hit with local sites, and their business model would follow.

“We are like any good tech geeks, we thought, ‘Ah, we’ll build amazing tools and people around the country will put them to use and we’ll just make technology and we won’t have to do any of the hard work of selling ads,’” Justin Carder, vice president of business development told me. “Over the years we’ve evolved. We got into the advertising business.”

A year ago, Instivate realized that their model had a flaw. For small news sites, selling ads is both time-consuming and requires a skill set entirely separate from the day-to-day of writing a blog. The idea was to take on the job of selling for them — so Instivate began building out what has recently ramped up to a 22-site network of local sites called the Seattle Indie Ad Network. One Instivate employee is dedicated to selling ads against that combined impression pool, which garners a higher CPM than what most of these sites might sell on their own. Carder says they sell ads at a CPM of between $5 and $10, sometimes going up to $12. Member sites still keep 80 percent of the sale.

The tool also lets network members sell their own ads. “We encourage even more aggressive pricing,” Carder said, when it comes to individual sales.

Carder said his own site, Capitol Hill Seattle, gets a whopping $40 CPM for its top banner slot. “People laughed at that, but we sell it,” he said. Carder explained that the flexibility of the tool allows him to meet a buyer’s daily budget, even if it’s 50 cents a day, so the $40 CPM might still be worthwhile for an advertiser on a shoestring. The higher rates are also about audience. Regional news sites aren’t necessarily as attractive to neighborhood Seattle businesses trying to reach their bread and butter customers. A local site might have a smaller audience, but it’s a more targeted one.

As far as what’s next for Instivate, Carder says their attitude is more flexible when they first launched. Next up: trying to replicate the Seattle network in other cities.

April 14 2010

17:05

Spot.Us Expands to Seattle

We have been hinting at Seattle as the next Spot.Us city for some time and I'm very excited today, with the click of a few buttons, to make it a reality.

It would be a crime to keep Spot.Us limited to the Bay Area and Los Angeles. It would turn us into a non-profit news organization when, as I've said many times, we are a platform. A platform for freelancers to pitch the world (editors and the public) in one fell swoop. Non-profit news organizations can use this platform to fundraise, local papers and bloggers can use this to expand their freelance budget, and through Spot.Us the community can have a say in what news gets covered. So it's time to start opening up the platform. We may be coming to a region near you, so join our newsletter or suggest a city on our home page.

This is the first phase in a larger expansion. We are already talking with folks in other cities where we hope to expand. Perhaps some of these local Spot.Us networks won't pan out. Hopefully they will. This depends entirely upon the public. We need your help to spread the word and to get folks involved. It's a chance for the public in Seattle to take ownership of the media.

This is an experiment for the larger journalism community to take control of. This belongs to everyone.


Why Seattle?

My first response is: why not?

Aside from being the next major city on the West Coast, Seattle is a hub of hyper-local media experiments and projects. If my hunch is correct these local media projects need as many revenue sources, platforms and tools as possible. There are a ton of organizations and sites we hope to partner with like Investigate West, West Seattle Blog, Seattle Post Globe, Capital Hill Blog, Next Door Media, Seattle PI, CrossCut, Wallywood -- and that's literally off the top of my head.

Why Now?

About six weeks ago I was having a meeting with Spot.Us media advisor Jeremy Toeman, one of my oldest "Internet friends," who gave me a polite kick in the butt as only an e-friend can. "You aren't learning fast enough," he said.

He was right. Something was holding me back and he aptly pointed it out. I was starting to talk with news organizations in various parts of the country about expanding Spot.Us in partnership. I still want to, but I can't wait for that to manifest. Especially not when it really only takes a few clicks for us to create a new Spot.Us network.

And besides: The mission of Spot.Us as a no-nprofit is not to partner with newspapers. Those are welcome events, like today's article in the SF Bay Guardian funded in part by Spot.Us, but it is not our driving mission.

Creating a new network without a strong partnership does feel vulnerable -- but that is what is needed in this phase of Spot.Us' growth. And more networks will come. We are looking at Austin and Minneapolis next.

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