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June 26 2011


ABC News Teams produces a Vook or video book for iPad, Android, Nook Color

Beet.TV :: ABC News is producing a multimedia offering of text and video reporting in the form of a video book, or "vook" for the Apple iOS devices, Android and Nook Color. ABC is working with the Emeryville, California based company Vook to create the publications around major news events including the capture of Osama Bin Laden and England's Royal Wedding.

Last week, Beet.TV spoke with Vook's head of product Matthew Cavnar.

Watch the interview by Andy Plesser, www.beet.tv

May 27 2011


Jeff Howe and The Atlantik start Twitter based #1book140 monthly book club

Mashable :: The Atlantic has announced the first selection for 1book140, an online reading and discussion club that will span the publication’s presences on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, as well its website.

[Jeff Howe:] What if everyone on Twitter read the same book at the same time and we formed one massive, international book club?

1book140 is an expansion of a project Howe began a year ago at Wired, where he previously served as a contributing editor, called One Book, One Twitter. “

Continue to read Lauren Indvik, mashable.com

Official Twitter account www.twitter.com/1book140

Wired One Book, One Twitter, www.wired.com

May 24 2011


The Future of Nonprofits: An Interview with David J. Neff

David J. Neff  is a long-time innovator, blogger, and nonprofit founder. He recently co-authored the book, The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age, with Randal C. Moss. It is aimed at nonprofit employees at all levels who are interested in learning how innovation, internal entrepreneurship, fundraising and social media communications are going impact nonprofits in the next five years.

I touched base with Dave to find out more about his tactics and techniques for successful nonprofit management. Take a look at the interview below to learn more about Dave, and grow your understanding of leveraging technological innovations to run successful programs.

Learn more about David J. Neff in the interview below!


Q. How did you get started with nonprofit management and what drove you to write a book about it?

Randal and I had been at management positions at the American Cancer Society for several years and really saw what positive things can happen when you have the correct awareness, structure and staffing in an organization. We also were prominent members of the American Cancer Society Future and Innovation center and helped ACS predict future trends. These things combined made us want to share our experience with the nonprofit community. And the best way we could figure that out was through this book.

Q. What are some of the main themes in the book?

One of my favorite themes of the book is that nonprofits constantly hire people in their 20s and 30s who have amazing ideas, and then say no to all their great ideas. And then are amazed when they quit in frustration just months later. Nonprofits have to have a way to take in, evaluate and fund good ideas from their staff and volunteers. We have an entire two chapters dedicated
to these two ideas!

Q. What do you think are some of the characteristics of nonprofits and individuals that are strong innovators?

It’s simple. They are risk takers and their nonprofits take the time to reward them for that behavior. Nonprofits are way too risk aversive. We all understand that it’s other people’s money but the same thing holds for IBM or DELL. However in that case it’s the stockholders money. The modern nonprofit donor wants to know where the ROI is?

So can you answer them?

Q. I hear there is a graphic novel element to the book! Tell me more!

Yes we produced a graphic novel to help promote the book. Our “comic book” was done and drawn by the amazing Chris Bomley who writes about drawing it and working with us at this link. As far as I know it’s the first ever nonprofit comic book produced. It’s been an amazing marketing piece for us and tells a good story about our book.

Q. What have you learned from writing The Future of Nonprofits?

Wow. That’s a hard one. My favorite part was conducting all the amazing interviews of my peers that I got to do while writing the book. I learned so much about what peers were up to that you just don’t read on their blogs. It really re-awakened my love of journalism and news and I think you really see that in the book with the case studies and hard hitting questions we ask.

Q. How can people get their hands on The Future of Nonprofits and follow your other work?

You bet. You can buy the book at your local book store or through Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Nobles and Google Book and at our site www.thefutureofnonprofits.com

You can also grab the Nook and Kindle version as well. If you want to book us to speak to your group
simply hit us up at our Website or on our Facebook fan page.



Thanks so much to Dave for sharing his story with us!

February 23 2011


Dan Gillmor nudges media chicks from their shells with his new book, "Mediactive"

Dan Gillmor is such a smooth writer and so media savvy that we readers hardly realize he is hurling a challenge at all of us, from average citizens to professionals, in his new book, Mediactive, which can be purchased at store and online outlets or can be downloaded at http://mediactive.com.

Gillmor identified the phenomenon of "consumer as creator" in his first book, We The People, published in 2004. His latest book is a practical, common-sense 2.0 version, assuming we no longer are receptacles of information but active participants in the process, who are called on to break out of our "comfort zone" like a chick cracking open its shell.

A longtime high-tech newsaper columnist now blogging, teaching and directing a media center at Arizona State University, Gillmor makes a positive case for being mediactive (his word), then tells you how and why. Journalists use a technique called a "nut graf", a single paragraph that sums up the essence of an article. You don't have to wait long with Gillmor. On Page 3 he writes:

Information overflow requires us to take an active approach to media, in part to manage the flow pouring over us each day, but also to make informed judgments about the significance of what we see. Being passive receivers of news and information, our custom through the late 20th Century era of mass media, isn't adequate in the new century's Digital Age mediasphere, where information comes at us from almost everywhere, and from almost anyone.

With that gauntlet thrown down, Gillmor explains the positive side ten pages later: "Above all, hands-on mediactivity is satisfying, often fun. By being mediactive, you'll get used to gauging the reliability of what you see, pushing deeper into various topics and following the many threads of arguments to reach your own conclusions — not on everything, of course, but on the issues that you care about the most. And when you've made that process part of your life, you'll have trouble waiting for the next break in your day so you can get back to the satisfaction that it brings."

The aspect of this book that is most compelling to me concerns the phrase, "gauging the reliability". Gillmor reminded me of my father (although I am old enough to be Dan's), who had a stern, curt answer anytime I asked him the meaning of a word or an issue: "Look it up," he would say. Gillmor makes the case that the new consumer/creators are obliged to be skeptical about the information they absorb and take steps to verify it. He devotes a chapter to the principles of media consumption — often called "media literacy" — that include use of due diligence, exercising judgment, opening your mind, continually asking questions and learning media techniques.

He backs up these principles with the use of solid, revealing examples and insightful injection of nuances that reflect his experience grappling with these issues in his own media journey. In some cases he doesn't mince words, slamming home the axiom that "early news is so frequently wrong" that a heavy dose of skepticism is called for. Gillmor's associate, Ethan Zuckerman of the Berkman Center, suggests that it isn't just the early reporting that often is in error but also the accepting mindset of many news consumers in early stages of fast-moving, developing stories. Gillmor says that mindset must change.

Somehow Gillmor does an exhaustive job of outlining how to be media savvy in only 180 pages. He deliberately omits an index, given that a computer search can easily be done on the text at http://mediactive.com. But that means booting up, going to the site, calling up the book and searching. An index of a few pages at the end of the book would seem to be an easily achieved reader service.

Shortly after reading the book, I had an email exchange with a friend who sent me the following: "We have a whole generation or two that has gone over to cell phones, tweeting, and facebook, which means they don't have the interest or attention span for anything but headlines." I was Gillmor-skeptical.

The friend then added (and you could almost see him smiling) that he realized he should be accepting of this new trend, because at the local pool hall he overheard someone say that, "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

That sent me to Wikipedia (or was it Google?) to check my memory that the author of that line was poet Robert Graves. O no, It was poet Thomas Gray. I was skeptical of myself, and it paid off. Hey, I'm a mediactivist!

(Jack Driscoll is author of Couch Potatoes Sprout: The Rise of Online Community Journalism and is an adviser for the Center For the Future of Civic Media.)

December 28 2010


New links to updated sites…

In anticipation of the New Year, my other two wordpress sites have been updated.

Check out The Basics of Videojournalism, an overview of a textbook on visual storytelling I am currently working on.

Also, beginning in June I’ll be out and available for hire as a freelance videojournalist – the site for that is think-news.

If you look to the left in the sidebar, you’ll see I’ve added both sites to the blogroll.

July 30 2010


Networked Nonprofit: Get the book!

Beth Kanter and Allison Fine's book, The Networked Nonprofit, is now out and starting lots of conversations. But what's everyone talking about? Below I've shared some excerpts and resources to get you started and ready to join in!

Getting Started

Let's start at the beginning: what is a "networked nonprofit" anyway? As Beth and Allison explain:

read more

June 10 2010


Interview: Mary Joyce, Editor of Digital Activism Decoded

Mary Joyce and Digital Activism DecodedI recently wrote this post about a new book called Digital Activism Decoded and followed up with editor Mary Joyce to learn more. Read the full interview below.

About the book:

read more

June 04 2010


Digital Activism Decoded: A Free Book for Online Activists

A new book has recently been published that I thought some of you might be interested in reading. It's all about how we can use technology for political activism. While many books have already been written about the tools and tactics available for activists online, this is the first book to attempt to map the field of digital activism in its entirety.

read more

April 08 2010


Review: Heather Brooke – The Silent State

The Silent State

In the week that a general election is called, Heather Brooke’s latest book couldn’t have been better timed. The Silent State is a staggeringly ambitious piece of work that pierces through the fog of the UK’s bureaucracies of power to show how they work, what is being hidden, and the inconsistencies underlying the way public money is spent.

Like her previous book, Your Right To Know, Brooke structures the book into chapters looking at different parts of the power system in the UK – making it a particularly usable reference work when you want to get your head around a particular aspect of our political systems.

Chapter by chapter

Chapter 1 lists the various databases that have been created to maintain information on citizens - paying particular focus to the little-publicised rack of databases holding subjective data on children. The story of how an old unpopular policy was rebranded to ride into existence on the back of the Victoria Climbie bandwagon is particularly illustrative of government’s hunger for data for data’s sake.

Picking up that thread further, Chapter 2 explores how much public money is spent on PR and how public servants are increasingly prevented from speaking directly to the media. It’s this trend which made The Times’ outing of police blogger Nightjack particularly loathsome and why we need to ensure we fight hard to protect those who provide an insight into their work on the ground.

Chapter 3 looks at how the misuse of statistics led to the independence of the head of the Office of National Statistics – but not the staff that he manages – and how the statistics given to the media can differ quite significantly to those provided when requested by a Select Committee (the lesson being that these can be useful sources to check). It’s a key chapter for anyone interested in the future of public data and data journalism.

Bureaucracy itself is the subject of the fourth chapter. Most of this is a plea for good bureaucracy and the end of unnamed sources, but there is still space for illustrative and useful anecdotes about acquiring information from the Ministry of Defence.

And in Chapter 5 we get a potted history of MySociety’s struggle to make politicians accountable for their votes, and an overview of how data gathered with public money – from The Royal Mail’s postcodes to Ordnance Survey – is sold back to the public at a monopolistic premium.

The justice system and the police are scrutinised in the 6th and 7th chapters – from the twisted logic that decreed audio recordings are more unreliable than written records to the criminalisation of complaint.

Then finally we end with a personal story in Chapter 8: a reflection on the MPs’ expenses saga that Brooke is best known for. You can understand the publishers – and indeed, many readers – wanting to read the story first-hand, but it’s also the least informative of all the chapters for journalists (which is a credit to all that Brooke has achieved on that front in wider society).

With a final ‘manifesto’ section Brooke summarises the main demands running across the book and leaves you ready to storm every institution in this country demanding change. It’s an experience reminiscent of finishing Franz Kafka’s The Trial – we have just been taken on a tour through the faceless, logic-deprived halls of power. And it’s a disconcerting, disorientating feeling.

Journalism 2.0

But this is not fiction. It is great journalism. And the victims caught in expensive paper trails and logical dead ends are real people.

Because although the book is designed to be dipped in as a reference work, it is also written as an eminently readable page-turner – indeed, the page-turning gets faster as the reader gets angrier. Throughout, Brooke illustrates her findings with anecdotes that not only put a human face on the victims of bureaucracy, but also pass on the valuable experience of those who have managed to get results.

For that reason, the book is not a pessimistic or sensationalist piece of writing. There is hope – and the likes of Brooke, and MySociety, and others in this book are testament to the fact that this can be changed.

The Silent State is journalism 2.0 at its best – not just exposing injustice and waste, but providing a platform for others to hold power to account. It’s not content for content’s sake, but a tool. I strongly recommend not just buying it – but using it. Because there’s some serious work to be done.

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