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July 27 2012


You said. We did.

It's been two months since I joined Marc and Anka on the NetSquared community team. But what have I been up to? It's time to report back.

I started off with a survey to the NetSquared Local organizers, which helped us focus our work initiated by the 100 Day Challenge.

Survey Results and Actions

What you said
You want to bring local organizers together. connection chart

What we did
We launched the Regional Gathering Fund to fund NetSquared Camps that will bring local organizers together for face-to-face meetings.

What you said
You want event recipes and templates. Recipe chart

What we did
We've been updating the Organizer's Handbook, have tested the Social Media Surgery format (inspired by organizers in Manchester, Adelaide and Burlington) and will be publishing a new event format called a Tool Jam to the wiki for September 2012. The Tool Jam is a rapid introduction to the software tools used by members of the social benefit technology community, and is inspired by the Ignite and PechaKucha format.

In Progress

You asked for regional Google+ hangouts. We haven't delivered on these yet, although the NetSquared team has been offering experimental office hours. Regional hangout chart

Items of less interest

The survey showed that there was less interest in these areas. We'll ignore them for now!

  • Peer mentorships
  • best practice webinars

What Else?

In addition to following up on the tasks identified in the survey, the NetSquared team has been hard at work on our ongoing project, which is to act as cheerleaders for the amazing work local organizers are doing in their communities. We're doing that by highlighting NetSquared Local organizers in our monthly Digital Bites newsletter and by launching the new NetSquared platform, which will feature dedicated pages for each of our local groups and automatically import your meetup.com events into the site.

Complete Survey Data

Taking local to the next level

Taking Local to the Next Level

Strengthening your local group

Strenthening your local group

April 20 2012


Community hangout – lessons learned from the experiment

Last week Net2 Local organizers community participated in the very first Google + Hangout. Local innovators gathered to experiment with the (not so much) new Google tool.

Lesson #1 – if you want to experiment – do it openly, it is more fun and you can learn much more

Overall, the experiment was a very good experience, mostly because we did it together - community members from Adelaide, Manchester, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Tokyo, Singapore and Warsaw. There are few things we can examine together in real time, being able to see each other at the same time. The experimental hangout was announced on the Net2 Local organizers Google list in order to keep it inside the community, but also open – anybody from the community could join any time. There was no schedule, except the “opening hour”. We had surprise show ups from Vancouver and Tokyo but also very devoted group to try out every possible g+ hangout app almost for the entire hour. Now we all know that it works on ipads (but they don’t show the chat bar) and that one can wear fake pirate hat during all the meeting. However, there is no more cat face app anymore. 

print screen on Net2 hangout

Lesson #2 – Know who to invite and keep them in a circle

One of the problems I didn’t think about was that a hangout can be open to all the people from your circles. It means that you need to have them in a circle before you start a hangout. If you want to hang out with people who are not yet in any of your circles, make sure you have easy access either to their e-mails or to their g+ accounts. I got stuck for 10 min trying to invite people to private chat and finding their e-mails. It would be easier to have all the addresses on the list or a circle ready to be used.
I tried to bypass this by opening the meeting completely and doing it as a “public” one, but it finished with a social disaster and awkwardness when the meeting was joined by 3 strangers who just kept on staring at me plus one guy who kept on singing (aloud) disturbing the meeting (and yes, you can mute somebody and yes, you can block somebody too – it is a very useful tool)

Lesson #3 – Experiment together

If you do it for the first time and most of the attendees are not familiar with it as well, put aside some time to experiment with it and with all the apps too. There is nothing but benefits here. You as the organizer will feel safer, because you get some more time to manage the tool while everybody’s having fun. And at the end, we all feel safer using all the shiny and playful new toys.

Have you got any experiences with Google+ Hangout tool? Do you have any more tips? Any special “how to” ingredients or methods? Please share it in the comments.

I want also to thank to my dear beta testers: Ben, Steven, Aseem, Seth, Elijah and Ichi.

We will come back to the Hangouts soon, so stay tuned!

January 17 2012


NetTuesday. The How To.

post by: Ruxandra Popa - Net2 Local Organizer in Bucharest and Cluj Napoca (Romania), PR Manager - TechSoup Romania  

To netsquare?

net2 Romania logo

If “netsquare” were a verb, this is how to (based on our experience in Romania).
Today’s episode: NetTuesday*.

*A NetTuesday is an informal gathering between civil society and IT people, organised by volunteers throughout the world. It is a 0 budget event that gets people talking about IT for social change, while they befriend each other."

People of NetTuseday

You want your NetTuesday event to be awesome from its first edition, so some preparations are in order:

  • Start fishing for people. You’ll need a bunch of technology-oriented people that want to save the world while getting more social, and a group of activists that fancy being in the same room with IT brains. How do you get these folks?  We shamelessly used others’ events to get to these 2 crowds.

Interesting advice – with NGOs being 90% women and IT being 90% men, consider sending a lady to the IT community events, and a handsome man to the civil society gatherings. It works…

  • Find a nice place to host it. The challenge here is to be able to maintain the ‘0 budget’ philosophy of the NetTuesday events. It has to be cozy and we recommend beer on the menu, but at the same time provide some intimacy and have low volume non-irritating music, if any.
  • Brainstorm for some hot discussion topics. Do some research on what’s currently trending in the technology for social change discussion. Ask your target group about its needs, but make sure you’re not boring people to death with your questions.
  • Master the tool: meetup.com is the perfect helper in setting up the meetings and providing user-friendly feedback on the events. I cannot stress enough how cool and idiot-proof this tool is.

Now that you’re all set up, start organizing these people’s Tuesdays:

  • Find a knowledgeable and friendly speaker to deliver content on the topic of choice. Use his/her presentation to start the group discussion. Powerpoints usually kill all the fun, so you would want somebody that feels comfortable with a lighter style presentation. The speaker can also attract people to the event for the networking opportunity, so make sure all the participants crave for his/her business cards and handshakes.
  • Be the ultimate matchmaker. Getting people from 2 very different worlds together is probably the best thing that you can accomplish as a NetTuesday organiser. If you are a good host, you will set up an environment that helps them develop relationships that go beyond your meetings. This is how a civil society member can find a long-term IT volunteer, or an IT guy marry a gorgeous civil society representative. Everybody wins.
  • Don’t stop. Even if you have 11 people cancelling their presence at the last moment (one of which is the speaker himself), and you end up with 4 participants and have to step up and deliver the talk yourself. It is important to have continuity and make NetTuesdays a part of the groups’ monthly schedule.

And some advice for the bold organizers:


  • Don’t be afraid to get into trouble. The success of a NetTuesday event is, much like a wedding, measured in terms of how much craziness happens. So don’t be scared of any outrageous happening. It would only turn out to be that memorable episode that you use as a conversation starter when you meet cool people.

For example, we had a special guest at one of the NetTuesdays in Romania, one that we remotely help organise. A great opportunity came up - a very controversial blogger, anti-system fighter from Russia was visiting the country and we all agreed he would be amazing, as we wanted to do something on flash mobs for quite some time. The guy delivered and then some more, and the talk was absolutely harmless (aimed at revealing the best tools to help set up a flash mob, not actually overthrowing the power).

Funny enough, he was on a list of activists to watch and TechSoup Ro and its director were later featured on a super-conspiracy-theory blog that is used for discrediting people and actions that might endanger the status quo. To cut a long story short, we were very surprised to find out that we are responsible for a number of outrageous epic events, such as the Arab Spring. A bit frightening but it became a good conversation starter. I think we all deserve some beers, right?

  • Speaking of beer, I might have mentioned it before, but its presence can be instrumental in the success of the event (depending on the culture of your country), so it needs a special paragraph. People here are much more friendly over a beer, and absolutely lovable after the second one. Make sure they are ordering the right stuff and people will network at your event. Next thing you know- they’ll be asking you “What’s happening with NetTuesdays? It feels like it’s been over a month since our last beer together!”
  • Bake a cake or something. I am quite sure that the ingredient behind the success of our NetTuesday events is homemade-stuff-with-lots-of-chocolate. I bake cookies for every event, and, leaving joke aside, it is my way of showing people I care. The cake doesn’t even have to taste good, as long as it shows you took the time to do something for your nice guests. Whatever you decide to do to surprise them, make sure your evening ends without human casualties.

I hope I convinced you to start netsquareding and that you’ll have as much fun as we do in getting people together at your events. You will very soon see the outcome of your effort: NGOs that have a stronger online presence, programmers that feel good about their work, creative new tools that come out of random beer talks, and friends that help each other while producing an important change in the community.

January 04 2012


An Ode to Our Longest Running Net2 Local Organizers

Ed and Katie at one of their first Net2 events, with event speaker Mena Trott (center)We recently got word from our beloved organizers at Net2 Local in Houston that they need to hand off the organizer baton. Having spent 6 years hosting monthly networking events, they are our longest-running Net2 Local community organizers. Like all of the other Net2 Local organizers around the world, we feel so lucky to work with them to help spread the knowledge, networking, and fun, around using technology for social change. 

To Katie, Ed, and the entire Shipul Team: Thank you for all that you have done for the social innovation community in Houston and around the world. As our Co-CEO, Marnie Web put it “I totally understand the need for change but, dammit, we're going to miss having you two so engaged in the Net2 Local in Houston.” You’ve always performed above and beyond our expectations and have helped countless people make the connections they need to make a difference in the world. 

An Ode to the Houston Organizers

Since December two-thousand-and-five
You’ve helped #nptech in Houston survive

By all accounts the events were #winning
Now new organizers are just beginning

Together, we’ll keep Net2 Houston Alive

Well, I’m really not a poet. But I sure hope it made you laugh!

Big virtual hugs from the Net2 HQ team to the entire Net2 Houston past, present, and future team. Congrats on all you’ve accomplished and a massive thanks for all that you’ve done. We look forward to keeping Net2 in Houston going strong!





  • First photo captionEd and Katie at one of their first Net2 events, with event speaker Mena Trott (center)
  • Second photo caption: Attendees at the most recent Net2 Houston event, December 2012. See more.



October 04 2011


Help Shape the Future of NetSquared This October

We’re writing to share some exciting news about our plans to spend the month of October surveying the community so we can better understand your needs. The aim is to re-evaluate our strategy and goals for the NetSquared program moving forward.

You may have noticed that there’s been a lot of exciting change happening at NetSquared HQ. We have new additions to the team including Marc Manashil, Anna Kuliberda, Trenton DuVal, Bari Samad and Vanessa Rhinesmith. The community has also expanded significantly, with new Local groups emerging in just about every corner of the world.

Yet despite these positive developments, there’s a lot more we need to learn about the state of the network and how it can be strengthened. We cannot assume that what we’ve done in the past is what we should be doing today. And although we’ve heard from some of you informally, we feel the time is right to survey the NetSquared community in a much more comprehensive way.

Although listening to community feedback is an ongoing activity that we should never stop, this “month of listening” will provide us a focused opportunity to step back and make sure that what we’re doing is optimally aligned with your needs. To create the time and space for this assessment, we will be pausing certain regular activities such as Net2 Think Tank and Net2 News, though you will continue to hear regularly from our contributors on the blog.

On October 10th, we will send out a comprehensive survey to members of the NetSquared community. The survey will help us objectively assess what you value most about Net2 and what could be improved. Please keep a lookout for the survey and take a few minutes to complete and submit it. We’ll be sure to share the survey and the results with you here on the blog.

We’d also love to get your feedback throughout this process, so please let us know what you think here, on Twitter @MarcManashil and @ClaireSale, or by writing a blog post of your own to reflect publicly on the survey questions. We’re very excited about this project and its implications for NetSquared and look forward to keeping you posted as we progress.

The NetSquared Team

September 16 2011


Tech & Social Change Baltimore Announces Dates for Next Three Meetings

Tech & Social Change Baltimore has scheduled its three remaining meetings for 2011.

  • September 22, 2011: Webcasting
  • November 3, 2011: TBA
  • December 1, 2011: TBA

All of these meetings will be at 7:00 pm and are being hosted by WYPR.


Baltimore NetSquared Changes Name to Tech & Social Change Baltimore

Baltimore NetSquared has changed its name to Tech & Social Change Baltimore. With this name change, we become the official local NetSquared group as well as the local NTEN 501 Tech Club.

What does this mean for you? It means you should

September 02 2011


Net2 Local Organizers Revisited - Vancouver

For this post, we’re checking up again on Elijah van der Giessen, Vancouver’s NetSquared local organizer who runs the Net Tuesday meetups. He was featured as a Net2 Local Organizer in a spotlight interview in 2009.

The Vancouver Net Tuesday group has been busy since that interview connecting nonprofits with tech and communications resources for the last two years. They’ve covered topics like Event-based Fundraising, Online Video for Nonprofits, Applications of Location-Based Services and Culture and Diversity in Social Media. If you want to keep up to date on the group, be sure to check out their Facebook Page and follow their Twitter stream.

Net Tuesday has scheduled two upcoming sessions. In September learn How nonprofits win with word of mouth marketing. The presenter, Darren Barefoot, is famous all over the web and is the author, most recently, of Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook. October’s session is Redesigning Your Website? What You Need to Know - with Lauren Bacon. Lauren Bacon is a veteran web designer who co-founded Raised Eyebrow Web Studio. Raised Eyebrow also runs a series of free webinars for nonprofits. These are just some examples of the resources and connections that this Net2 Local group is bringing to the nonprofit field.

In addition to organizing Vancouver’s Net Tuesday meetups, he has been volunteering with OpenMedia.ca. OpenMedia.ca is an organization that works to further a media communications system in Canada that adheres to the principles of access, choice, diversity, innovation and openness. He recently assisted the Vancouver Association of Fundraising Professionals chapter by facilitating a session to focus their social media strategy.

As a Net2 Local organizer concerned with the intersection of the social web and social change, Eli’s active on the local social tech scene that includes:

  • Web of Change, a community that brings together the “foremost thinkers and do-ers in social media, technology and social change” for a series of conferences.
  • Van ChangeCamp, Vancouver’s version of a ChangeCamp, creative face-to-face gatherings that are citizen-led, non-partisan and social web enabled.
  • Third Tuesday, the meetup for social media and online community building.
  • Mental Health Camp, a conference about mental health and social media. It will unfortunately not be held in 2011, but the organizers hope to bring it back for 2012.

On his blog you can see that Elijah still works for the David Suzuki Foundation, a leading environmental protection and advocacy group. (They’re hiring if you’re interested) Elijah is also involved in a number of other nonprofit projects and events. He’s consulting for Constructive Public Engagement, who’ve been involved with the Greenest City Camp and the Design Thinking unconference.

Eli has shared his expertise at the Social Media Marketing Unplugged meeting in Vancouver and Calgary as well as guest lecturing for BCIT’s Essentials of Fundraising course. This September he’ll be leading a workshop on word-of-mouth marketing using social media at the IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership in Guelph, Ontario.

If you want to get in touch with Eli, check out his entry on the Net2 Local Organizers page.

May 25 2011


Intro to Twitter for Nonprofits and Social Enterprises: #VirtualNet2 Slides, Audio, and Wrap-up

This post outlines how Net2Camb hosted it's first livestreamed event, provides information about how view the slides and listen to the audio, and overviews our future plans for providing more live and recorded Netsquared Local event content in the future.

About the event

Participants at Net2Camb Event. Courtesy Andrew Entecott.

Ellie Stonely graciously offered to share her experiences using Twitter with our NetSquared Local group in Cambridge, UK. The topic was Intro to Twitter for Charities and Social Enterprises. In the talk, Ellie led a strategy-based conversation sharing case studies, lessons learned, and first steps for people and organizations that are interested in trying Twitter for the first time. 

The event was held on 24 May 2011, at Cambridge Online. You can read a few excerpts from the event on Storify.

About the livestream

A few weeks ago I got a note from Steven Flower, the NetSquared Local organizer in Manchester, asking if the group I help manage in Cambridge wanted to collaborate in real-time from 130 miles away. His email started: "Just a random thought, but we too have our Meetup scheduled in Manchester on the SAME DAY! Right now, we haven't a speaker or anything, so here is my crazy idea". The email went on to outline a way to stream content over the web to provide an event speaker in both cities simultaneously. I love crazy ideas and I knew it would add value to our efforts, so of course I said YES!

Now, I'm no techie, but Steven had been testing out a tool called Ipadio for streaming and sharing audio within his group. He suggested that we could upload the slides before the event and use Ipadio on a mobile phone to stream the audio live. We could also share ideas and feedback in real-time with virtual participants using the #virtualnet2 hashtag as a twitter backchannel.

His plan worked a charm!

For anyone else intersted in using this solution for their events, here are a few of my lessons learned:

  • The speaker needs to give an audio cue to the virtual participants every time she changes slides. We did this by having someone other than the speaker flip through the slides, which gave the speaker a reminder to say "next slide please". We also tweeted out (using the event hashtag) which slide we were on in the room.
  • The speaker needs a microphone. An easy way to do this is to clip a headset/mic that comes with many smartphones onto the blouse of the speaker, and ask her to put the phone in her pocket after you log in. No need to plug the headphones in her ears though - it's a one-way channel!
  • Test the audio before the event. Make sure it's not too echoy or quiet. Make sure you know how to log in.

It's not too late to participate!

Ellie Stonely Speaks at Net2Camb Event. Courtesy Andrew Entecott.

While we did a lot to provide an interactive experience in real-time, if you missed the event you can still access the content to review in your own time. Here's how to access it:

  1. Open or download Ellie’s Slides
  2. Open the audio stream
  3. Use the #virtualNet2 hashtag to share ideas on Twitter. The speaker is @e11ie5 and the host group is @Net2Camb.

The future for #VirtualNet2

This wasn't the first NetSquared Local event to be streamed online and it certainly won't be the last. The Philladelphia NetSquared group, for instance, have been pioneers at streaming Local content and have inspired much of our thinking for the Cambridge-Manchester event.

In the future, we plan to make it easier for people interested in participating in events virtually. Soon, we'll be launching a Virtual NetSquared Local option "officially" but if you'd like to be automatically notified of future events you can go ahead and sign up on the Virtual NetSquared Local meetup page today.

Thank yous

The first big THANK YOU goes to the community and event participants in Cambridge, Manchester, and aroudn the world. Thank you for bearing with us when things didn't go quite to plan (for instance when the slides were posted about 5 minutes before the talk!) and thank you for encouraging us to make the event happen - both online and in-person.

To the fabulous Ellie Stonely. For providing excellent resources, ideas, and conversation. Your situation yesterday wasn't ideal, but you really pulled through!

To Andrew Entecott and Cambridge Online. For being our gracious sponsors of the event, even during this rough time.

To Steven Flower. Thanks for the hard work, inspiration, publicity, and friendship.

To Manchester Net Tuesday. You guys rock and I can't wait to have another event where you stream to us!

To James and the other folks at Ipadio. Thank you for your technical support!

May 20 2011


Participate in a Virtual NetSquared Local Event: Intro to Twitter for Nonprofits and Social Enterprises

Join us May 24 at 7pm GMT in-person or online to learn about using twitter for non-profits and social enterprises.

I’ve been talking with several NetSquared Local organizers recently about the potential for streaming events in real-time to allow virtual participation around the world, and several groups have already been hosting mixed offline and online events for some time now. So, when I got an email from Steven Flower (@StevieFlow), our Manchester Net Tuesday organizer, asking if we could stream the Tuesday’s NetSquared Cambridge audio to the group up there, I knew we had to do it.


Twitter for Non Profits and Social Enterprises

The event we’ve been planning in Cambridge is centered around introducing Twitter to non profits and social enterprises. Ellie Stoneley (@e11ie5) will be take the lead and share some of the twitter experiences she has had in numerous non profits from the UK to LA and to Madagascar and India. Learn more about the topic.

Who’s connecting?

The Manchester Net Tuesday group: The group up north will meet as in person, but instead of having a speaker in Manchester, they’ll hook up the audio feed and slides and share the presentation in-real time. They’ll also have their own networking time before and after Ellie’s presentation. Here are the details for attending in person.

Anyone in the world: Anyone around the world can connect from the comforts of their own homes. The event will be streaming live, and should also be available after the event is over. 

How to connect?

When: 7pm GMT, Tuesday, May 24, 2011

(If, like me, you struggle to figure what time this is where you are, then I find this useful:http://www.timeanddate.com/)


Whether you are participating in Cambridge, Manchester, or anywhere else in the world, we hope you’ll join the conversation online using the #virtualNet2 hashtag on Twitter. The Cambridge event is fully booked for in-person attendance, but there are still some spots left in Manchester. Here are the location and RSVP details.

Here’s how to get involved virtually:


  1. Open or download Ellie’s Slides (link coming soon!)
  2. Open the live audio stream
  3. Use the #virtualNet2 hashtag to share ideas on Twitter. The speaker is @e11ie5 and the host group is @Net2Camb.

DJ > VJ > Story-J!

Storify helps you mix content to make a story...

We plan to use Storify during and after the event to mix together the content together created around the discussions across social media to leave a record and narrative. If you haven’t started to use Storify yet, then do! If you have, then tell us how you have!


This event is a small experiment for us in terms of building the NetSquared Local community. With like-minded folk getting together in cities and towns across the world, how can we utilize social media to share and exchange our stories, skills and experiences? Answers and questions at #virtualNet2 tweetcard please!

Live Link Ups Can #Fail

Here at NetSquared Cambridge, we’ve never done a livestream before. We’re pretty good with this technology malarky, but please bear with us if we have some technical difficulties! 


A special thanks goes out to Ellie Stoneley for her enthusiasm to broadcast her presentation and to Steven Flower for making the virtual aspect of this event a reality.


April 18 2011


Who's New to Net2 Local?

Since November, we've added 2 new NetSquared Local groups to the map, bringing the new official number to 80 groups in 26 cities worldwide! NetSquared Local groups meet to network and learn about using web and mobile technologies to make social change happen. Each one of these groups is volunteer run and community driven, and each one is totally unique and at the mercy of the interests, cultures and expertises of the group members.

New Net2 Local Groups

Below is a list of the groups that have started in the last few months. If you're interested in getting involved either as a co-organizer or a participant in one of these cities, go to the group website and give the organizer a shout!

Just Getting Started

We also have several other groups that are "Just Getting Started". This means that we have at least one person in the city who is interested in helping to get a NetSquared Local group off the ground. Just getting started groups are indicated by yellow markers on the map.

In the last few months we've had interest from people in:

  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Kasese, Uganda
  • Kumbo, Cameroon
  • Bellevue, CA, USA
  • Derby, KS, USA
  • Kalawana, Ratnapura, Sri Lanka
  • Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Ottawa, Canada
  • Denver, CO, USA
  • Boulder, CO, USA

Are you in one of these cities and want to become a co-organizer to help get the NetSquared group off the ground? Let us know and we'll connect you with the other folks who have expressed interest and provide you with all the resources you need to make it happen!

Are you in another city and want to get involved?

Learn more about NetSquared Local and check the Net2 Local map to see how you can get involved with an existing group, a just getting started group, or to start your own!

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