Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Plays Better with Others

In a recently-released social media survey of 200 of the largest charities in the United States as designated by Forbes Magazine, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's Center for Marketing Research found the following:

* 89% are using some form of social media—including blogs, podcasts, message boards, social networking, video blogging and wikis—to drum up new funds, friends, and awareness.

*45% of nonprofits surveyed said social media are very important to their fundraising strategies.

*Social networking and video blogging are now the most common forms of social media being used by nonprofits (79%); blogs are used by 57% of the charities surveyed, and 16% are using wikis.

*The use of video is up 38% over 2007; the use of social networking is up 47%, and blogging is up 23% over the previous survey. Of the nonprofits surveyed, some 90% reported that their blogs have been successful in keeping supporters up-to-date on their work and in engaging members and donors.

*About 1 in 4 of nonprofits with blogs use WordPress as their platform.

*Nearly two-thirds, or 65%, of the nonprofits surveyed use video on their blogs and upload their videos to YouTube.

*Nonprofits are "out-blogging" businesses and universities by nearly 2 to 1.

*Some three-quarters of nonprofits surveyed said they monitor the Internet for buzz, posts, conversations, and news about their institutions.

"Social media have become an incredibly important part of the communication strategy for U.S. charities," says survey authors Nora Ganim Barnes and Eric Mattson in their report. "The largest nonprofits are continuing to outpace businesses and even academic institutions int heir familiarity, use, and monitoring activity. These top [charitable] organizations ahve found a new and exciting way to win the hearts (and maybe the dollars) of potential donors."

(Illustration by

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Philanthropy: The Movie

There's a new short film scheduled for release this summer called Saving Philanthropy that will question the impact of the $300 billion Americans spend annually on philanthropy. [Thanks, Sean-Stannard Stockton for the head's up today.] That sum, $300 billion, "is more than the GDP of Colombia," the trailer for the film contends. "From 1995 to 2005, the number of foundations in the U.S. increased by 77 percent." So what has society gotten for that $300 billion? It's a good question, producers say. "With so many resources directed to solving our social issues," asks Executive Producer Kate Robinson, "why do they seem to be getting worse instead of better?" Robinson and her brother, Robby, don't think the philanthropy industry is performing well enough, nor adequately measuring its impact. "Viable organizations still aren't having the impact they claim they want to have because they're often not tracking their progress," says Robby. He says he hopes the film will encourage more accountability in the sector.

Here's the unfinished trailer for the film.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009


Social media are triggering new forms of group behavior—for better or worse, and this past week's Web 2.0 Expo in Manhattan offered up a fresh example of the dark side. On Day Two of the conference, twittering audience members formed a digital swarm to heckle keynote speaker danah boyd while she was delivering her keynote. The Twitter pile-on was ironic: boyd was talking about how social media are having the effect of shortening audience attention spans and "motivating individuals to make their personal content more readily available."

While boyd spoke, a live, real-time Twitterstream was being projected on a large screen behind her back, pulling everything tagged #w2e. At first, the audience began sending tweets criticizing her delivery, and then they began ridiculing it. Boyd might have altered her presentation if she had seen what was happening behind her back, but she never got the chance. She was facing the audience and was only able to hear the audience laugh. [Read her response to it here.]

@billyger: danah boyd from microsoft is talking way too fast. It's hard to follow and I have no idea what she is talking about #w2e
@dandam: Danah Boyd loves coffee. #w2e
@andybudd: Wow, people are bleeding out of danah boyd's somewhat dry and academic lecture.

And so on. It got worse. Since boyd's talk Nov. 17, there has been some hand-wringing in the blogosphere over whether to ban live Twitterstreams at conferences, or have organizers moderate the live Twitter streams for rude remarks. Maggie Fox, CEO of, called the incident "an extremely uncomfortable experience" which "frankly ... pissed me off." Michelle Riggen-Ransom, a writer and cofounder of Batchblue Software, blogged that "this livestream Twitterbashing (tweckling?) seems a bit like the bully in my Spanish class who used to reflect a circle of sunlight glinting off his watch onto the teacher's bottom while she was writing on the chalkboard, just to make the class laugh." David Beaudouin, a communications strategist with DB+C, asked his blog readers: "Can civility and transparency co-exist within this social medium? Sure, there will always be trolls and flame wars, but behaving badly in public forums, as opposed to productive candor, simply lowers the collective level of useful discourse."

For their part, some of the people who participated in the Tweckling have since apologized to boyd, but their comments also provide insights into other ways social media are changing us. Web 2.0 conference-goer Daniel Damkoehler posted this on danah's Web site Saturday:

"...I was following along with what felt like a bit rushed, more scholarly-than-sales-oriented talk (unlike those that preceded you) until the person next to me gave me a nudge and pointed to the Twitter graffiti wall. I admit to laughing, quipping, and completely falling out of the flow of your presentation and I apologize for my lack of attention and decorum as well as my snarky comments. ...It seems that the more subtle the speaker's point, the more impatient and nasty the audience became. While it's easy enough to blame the new tech in the room for this shoddy behavior, I'm not sure we're seeing anything new here at all. It certainly didn't feel new to me from where I sat.

Consider the recent Town Hall meetings around health care—substantive discussions of important issues were subsumed in cat-calls and shouted rumors. That said, having participated in this bad behavior, I noticed something else about the way it felt to put something on that wall. The Twitterwall subverted Twitter's more symmetric conversation model of communication. Posting to the wall was like creating and sharing a public secret about the speaker (a little like political graffiti except it wasn't anonymous). The wall made a spectacle of the crowd's impatience and anxiety feeding on the speaker's inability to respond. That spectacle united us, not as a single group receiving challenging ideas from a thoughtful orator but as quite separate individuals struggling to listen, read, respond, and make sense of the event. We moved from Web conference to Twitter circus..."

The boyd Tweckling is just the latest example of the phenomenon. At the Shorty Awards in February, a group of panelists sat on stage dumbfounded while the audience used a projection of the live Twitterstream to make fun of them behind their backs. More famously, former BusinessWeek columnist Sarah Lacy, during a 2008 SxSW interview of Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg, got pummeled "when the back channel on Twitter caused the crowd to turn against Lacy and made for a fairly hostile Q&A," Riggen-Ransom recalls. A more recent example, she says, occurred earlier this month at a HighEdWeb Keynote speech in Milwaukee, "where even non-attendees jumped on the bandwagon (possible now with live-streaming.)" [To read Riggen-Ransom's full post, go here.]

Sure, speakers who read their speeches or who don't seem comfortable addressing a crowd have never been popular with audiences who have paid hefty registration fees just to hear them speak. People attend keynotes to be enlightened and entertained. But does the advent of Twitter—and the existence of a digital back-channel—make it socially permissible to virtually boo people off stage?

Like Riggen-Ransom, I'm all for the back-channel. But I'm also for civic spaces. Way back in the '90s, people used to laugh at Beavis&Butthead, the original back-channel snark-mongers—often to the point of losing interest in the videos they were skewering. To be sure, the audience is the stage in this new era of social media. As social media continue to redefine our notions of public spaces, public behavior—what's considered acceptable—is evolving. Transparency changes things, and not gently.

—By Marcia Stepanek

(Photo of danah boyd at Web 2.0 Expo New York courtesy of O'Reilly Media)

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Friday, November 20, 2009


The federal government is just beginning to use social media to talk to citizens. What’s needed now, says Web entrepreneur Anil Dash, is a way for government to use social media to listen.

Expert Labs—one of the more intriguing ideas to emerge from this past week’s Web 2.0 Expo in Manhattan—is a new nonprofit that will seek to bridge that gap. Its mission is to use the Web and expert online communities to crowdsource solutions to social problems that state and federal lawmakers either cannot nor will devise by themselves: Dash, a co-founder of Six Apart, was tapped to lead the new effort, a joint project of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the MacArthur Foundation.

Dash says he sees Expert Labs as a way to make sure the smartest people (whether or not they’ve been elected) are always, at least virtually, in the room. “If we can bring the right resources to bear and sufficient numbers of the right experts to help solve our social problems, there really is an order of magnitude increase in the types of problems we’re going to be able to solve,” Dash told Web 2.0 conferees while unveiling the project during a keynote address.

And Dash is clear that more brains are needed in Washington. “No matter how smart the policymakers are in our government—and there are many brilliant, passionate people in government—there’s always going to be more experts outside the Beltway,” Dash says. It would be better to crowdsource the answers to tough policy questions, Dash says, because in Washington, there’s often a lack of quality deliberation:

“The tactics [that government have used so far] have been holding a closed-door meeting with a half-dozen people for an hour and saying, ‘Well, we’ve talked to the industry experts and now we know how to make good policy.' But you and I know the Web has changed the way that works. If I can ask my friends on Twitter what pair of headphones I should buy; if I can ask as a business person on Facebook, ‘What’s your response as a consumer of our product?’ then why shouldn’t the government be able to ask those same kinds of questions when shaping policy?”

Since it was unveiled November 18, Dash's project has been getting mixed reviews, the most favorable from the Gov 2.0 crowd, which sees Expert Labs as a way to invite much-needed citizen input into government decision-making. But “smarter” doesn’t always mean inclusive. And if Dash’s effort is mostly aimed at tapping AAAS’s 2,000-plus members, what about the wisdom of the larger crowd? If the expertise being tapped will be limited to the 161-year-old AAAS, what’s to differentiate Expert Labs from any other higher-profile, closed-loop lobbying group in Washington trying to use social media to boost the clout of its members on Capitol Hill?

Further, crowdsourcing headphone recommendations is hardly the same as asking for detailed solutions to the nation’s failing healthcare system, or for the best ways to wind down the war in Afghanistan without creating whole new sets of security threats and political minefields at home and abroad. Indeed, governing is inherently more complex than product innovation; smart isn’t always fact-based, nor wise—nor governable. And to be sure, scientific expertise can inform policy but leadership has always been far more of an art than a science.

Most intriguing about Dash’s initiative is that it’s an ambitiously, well-intentioned effort, one of many trying to boost civic participation, and chiefly from highly specialized communities that haven’t always been tapped for their knowledge. Viva the experiment; after the last eight years, Americans can do with a more enlightened government.

But beware the Web’s power [at least in these early days of Gov 2.0] to reward meritocracy and technological prowess at the risk of overlooking those without or less wired. Democracy has always, in theory, sought to raise all boats. Here’s hoping Dash’s experiment—and others like it using social media—also will raise tough questions about elitism and exclusivity, the kind that all of us living in democratic societies will, at some point, have to resolve.

By Marcia Stepanek

(Illustration by Nancy Edmonds)
(This post first appeared on and appears here with permission)

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#Hashtag Humor

Comedian Baratunde Thurston, Web editor for The Onion, is using Twitter as an entertainment medium, organizing various tongue-in-cheek hashtag groups to skewer all aspects of American society, from politics to pundits to popular culture, in general. "Twitter hashtag groups are mini-grassroots movements that are quickly assembled and demolished and malleable and fun and they're just a great way to mess with people," Thurston says. No one is spared: some of the hashtag groups he's organized so far include #howblackareyou and #WorldsThinnestBooks [example: "Neo-con alternatives to war"]. And now he's putting together a new one. His latest tweet asks:

Thinking of seeing #NewMoon tomorrow and doing a live hate tweet of the experience. Interested?

Thurston also does a pretty good send-up of Tech conference speaker peppiness [see his talk at this past week's Web 2.0 Expo in Manhattan, below]. Who knew Twitter could be so amusing?

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009


British Actor Emma Thompson’s controversial and powerful new public art exhibit to raise awareness of international sex trafficking opened in New York yesterday off Washington Square in Greenwich Village, and it's hard to ignore. It is a line of seven railroad boxcars, arranged as if waiting to depart at any moment; degrading graffiti is slathered across them, meant to stigmatize the captives portrayed inside. Each car represents a different step in a woman's journey toward forced prostitution. In one, a bedroom is recreated, complete with peeling wallpaper, a scribbled price list for sexual services, and condom wrappers littering the floor. Along one wall, a filthy, stained bed heaves under the weight of invisible, moving bodies.

Called Journey, the exhibit—which runs here through Sunday—attempts to unmask the denial that keeps the bustling sex trade industry hidden in plain sight. [Long Island is a region where trafficking is rampant, curators say.] Thompson says she, herself, woke up to the issue after being introduced to a woman who had been a sex slave at a massage parlor that Thompson passed each day on her way to the London subway. "I was devastated that it was happening so close to where I lived and that I was doing nothing about it," she said.

Thompson is chair of the Helen Bamber Foundation, a London-based philanthropic foundation formed in 2005 to help victims of cruelty. It was through Bamber—an 84-year-old woman who was on one of the first rehabilitation teams to visit the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945—that Thompson first heard the story of Elena, a young Moldovan woman trafficked into Britain at the age of 19. Elena’s story inspired Journey.

Cause Global caught up with Thompson and Bamber Foundation co-founder Michael Korzinski. What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation. Journey leaves Sunday for Madrid.

What was it about Elena’s story that first inspired you to take action?

I think it was simply how easily traffickers are able to prey on victims of tragedy. Elena’s father had died and she’d gone to work in the market selling vegetables and she was very unhappy about her life. She had to leave school. A woman in the market came up to her and invited her home, then offered to get her a nice job as a doctor’s receptionist in London. She told Elena that she’d be able to save money, send it back home, and go back to school, so Elena handed over her passport and ended up in London six weeks later, only to be told that she owed them 50,000 British pounds ($82,900) to pay for her journey to the U.K. and that she would have to earn that money by working as a prostitute. When Elena said no, that’s when the beating started. She was put into solitary confinement for two weeks. Then they told her they would hurt her family. I think it’s very important for people to understand that girls who are forced into this kind of slavery have been tortured, beaten, raped and threatened. It’s not the personal threats that really carry the weight; it’s the threats of harm to these girls’ family members that eventually breaks them down.

Elena is quoted as saying that prior to her confinement, she’d never seen a man naked; while in confinement, she says, “there were never less than 40 men a day.” Then she got arrested in a raid and was thrown into jail, where British authorities treated her badly. Eventually, she told trafficking investigators her story but it was clear that by then, she was deeply, emotionally scarred.

When sex slaves are thrown into jail they usually can’t speak English; the vast majority of the men and women trafficked come from Eastern Europe and they have no papers because they are illegals. In the detention centers, they are not helped in any way and then they are deported.

But wouldn’t deportation be a form of escape?

hen Elena came to the Bamber Foundation, she wasn't in very good shape. She'd gone home but she wasn't herself anymore, and couldn't face her mother or her family. She was someone deeply ashamed, someone utterly stigmatized by what she was doing and what had happened to her. She was someone who, in her own mind, was not literally worth helping.

Why choose this method to tell the story of human trafficking?
Because there have recently been some very good documentaries and films about the problem. Unfortunately, though, I think sometimes when you present things too graphically, people get frightened and they can’t cope with the suffering. I wanted to find a way that I could engage people without scaring them off. I wanted to use shipping containers because trafficking is all about moving people about. I designed one of the containers and we had some very high-profile artists each taking one of the other cars to fill out the experience.

How are people reacting
to Journey?
When it opened in London in September, I’d say 99.9 percent of the people were just appalled; they didn’t know what to do. People would come out of the exhibit outraged. Some of them, though, come out of it feeling very hopeless about it all. At the moment, we’re trying to figure out what ripples out and what impact this exhibit does have in the communities we visit. Traveling this piece around, of course, is one of the most important things you can do to explain what this is and what sex trafficking does to people. What really struck me was a young man, maybe about 24 or so, who came up to me the other day to ask me how someone is supposed to recover from something like this. He said it must take a very long time. It's that kind of awareness that we're after.

One part of the exhibit conveys the denial of some of the men who buy sex. One, interviewed on tape, said he believes he's actually doing himself and the girl he patronizes a favor. "When we're done, she goes on with her life and I go on with mine," he says. He seems to have no idea that the women he's been with are in captivity, being held against their will.
I don’t think the average person knows and no one wants to know about suffering; they have got enough going on in their own lives. You have to find ways to engage people without having to depress them. What people want is to be offered a chance to do something useful, and there isn’t a single person I’ve met who doesn’t want to do something about this problem after having see the exhibit.

Korzinski: Some of the psychological impacts of the girls who a forced into captivity this way, after a while, are apathy, memory loss, insomnia, physical pain, severe depression, listlessness and insomnia. It's not unusual to see some of these girls simply acting on auto-pilot, as if the life inside them is over.

What can the average person do?

Thompson: If you’re someone who buys sex, you can go to the madam and demand to see the girls’ passports. Anyone can report any incidences of suburban households that may have a great slew of young girls walking in and out of the front door for no apparent reason. If you’re a store owner and some girl comes to you for condoms and tissues and doesn’t speak English, you can ask her if she’s all right. You can, mostly, just open your eyes and your ears. It’s time for everybody to look at what’s going on around them and to take responsibility, to proclaim that it is not okay to sell human beings, for whatever reason, and that this kind of thing should not be allowed to continue.

For more on the issue and the exhibit, see below:

(Photo, TOP: Emma Thompson, NYU President John Sexton, and NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, viewing the NYC opening of
Journey: Courtesy of GETTY IMAGES)

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Berlin Twitter Wall

Last night marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of The Berlin Wall. To commemorate the event, the City of Berlin has created The Berlin Twitter Wall and is inviting people to share their recollections, as well as cite other such walls to human freedom that remain in 2009.

So far, people in more than 35 countries around the world have twittered their thoughts to hashtag #fotw, including their memories of what they were doing on the exact day the wall fell—November 9, 1989. [Many recall watching the event on TV.]

But not all tweets are looking to the past. Just days after the launch of The Berlin Twitter Wall on October 20, Chinese authorities blocked the site—but not before nearly 2,000 Chinese Internet users had left messages on the virtual wall, most of them demanding an end to censorship in China.

For a look at another digital Wall site, go to, created by Reporters Without Borders as a fundraiser for its free speech efforts around the world. Visitors to the site are invited to choose one or more bricks on a digital wall, and then to destroy them by sending a text message, the price of which will go to the nonprofit.

What do you think or remember about the fall of The Berlin Wall?

[Photo of remaining Berlin Wall section by Knud Nielsen]

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Garbage Island

Don't miss Lindsay Hoshaw's piece in The New York Times on the expanding Pacific Garbage Patch -- what Hoshaw describes as a Texas-sized area of "light bulbs, bottle caps, toothbrushes, Popsicle sticks and tiny pieces of plastic, each the size of a grain of rice."

This floating stew exists in far away areas of the Pacific Ocean. But the problem it poses is not as remote as it may seem. Photographer Chris Jordan used this fall's PopTech conference in Maine to unveil his latest project, Midway: Message from the Gyre, a series of photographs that he shot in September on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral in the North Pacific.

The images are striking—of dead albatross chicks, decaying on the white sands of the atoll. Jordan's work documents consumerism and its aftermath; the Midway atoll series shows chicks that had been fed a diet of human trash from the garbage patch in the area's polluted ocean waters. The plastic that had killed the chicks remains intact.

Jordan says the chicks die young, either from the toxins in the plastic or from choking on the refuse that had been mistaken for food. "We have this enormous, frightening problem of plastic pollution in our oceans and scientists are just starting to understand the effect it is having in the marine and wildlife environments," Jordan told PopTech conferees.
Jordan said that around the atoll, there are six times the amount of plastic than there are plankton.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Slow Money

There is slow food, slow design, slow cities, and slow photography.

And now? There is Woody Tasch. The former venture capitalist-turned-revolutionary, as he calls himself, is the guru of "slow money" - the name Tasch gives to his philosophy that combines a passion for social enterprise with the benefits of locally-grown food. Cause Global caught up with Tasch at New York University a couple of days ago, where he was speaking to social enterprise students about his new national campaign to persuade at least 1 million Americans to donate between $25 and $1,000 each to help create a grassroots, non-profit seed fund to support and grow local food businesses and family farms.

But it's not just healthier food that Tasch is after. He is traveling the country this fall, warning that money moves way too quickly. Billions and trillions of dollars zip around the globe, he says, as if disembodied from the people who invest it. "Investors don't know anymore where their money goes and more and more, they want to see an impact for what they give in their own lives and own communities," Tasch said. He says he wants to build and test the concept of something he calls "nurture capital" — a healthier and more sustainable alternative to venture capital for funding new businesses. It's time, he says, to shorten the distance between investors and their investments. It's also time, he says, to create new economic models that deliver a return but that also put community, soil fertility, and the environment at the bottom line.

"This is really paradigm-bending stuff," says Gabriel Brodbar, the director of NYU's Reynolds Program for Social Entrepreneurship. "Even the most traditional, free market capitalists like [philanthropist] George Soros and [National Economic Council director] Larry Summers have recently admitted in one way or another that our traditional paradigms have failed us."

Tasch is no out-of-left-field gadfly. He is chairman emeritus of Investor's Circle, the nonprofit network of angel investors, venture capitalists, foundations, and family offices that since 1992 has facilitated the flow of $130 million to 200 early-stage social enterprises dedicated to sustainability. Before that, he was the treasurer of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. Tasch's slow money movement, which was officially kicked off in September during a conference in Santa Fe, is an extension of that work.

"Right now, it's hard to believe that the Whole Foods Market down the street is still able to exist, given the damage we're doing to our soils, and it's hard to believe something bad is going to happen," Tasch told NYU students. "But [our food production system] isn't sustainable. It's time to slow down and start looking up close at what we are doing not just with industrial agriculture but what we're doing to ourselves on the planet in the name of sustaining our standard of living."

With slow money, Tasch is taking a page from the slow food movement, the 23-year-old movement that calls on consumers to treat the act of eating less as a hurried distraction and more like a family ritual that celebrates community and takes time out to reflect upon the labor involved in growing the food that we eat. "Money should move the same way," says Tasch. "This isn't just about finance but the relationship of finance to culture."

In short? Tasch wants to persuade grassroots investors to "take the power back" over their communities and start putting some of their assets into local businesses they can see and watch and [in this case] even taste. He wants them to measure growth not by numbers of dollars so much as the yield of a local crop and the health of a local community. He acknowledges that investing in sustainable local agriculture will yield below-market returns. But he says nobody will lose money; these returns, he says, will be solid - maybe a 3 percent profit or maybe 6 percent one over many years.

But the real dividend of slow money, says Tasch, is social, economic, and biological diversity. In an era of industrial agriculture, when millions of acres are planted with the same variety of corn and when millions of pigs are bred for their yield, small local farms are "the ultimate hedge fund," he says.
"Fix the broken food system, and many other social, economic, and environmental benefits will follow." Tasch adds:

"Genetically-modified plants and organisms [GMOs] are like [financial] derivatives. GMOs are like finance scientists trying to trick the yield on a piece of land. Sure, people will say I don't know what I'm talking about, that these new GMO varieties of plants are crossbred for less risk because every wheat stalk planted is exactly the same genetically. But I don't know. I'm not alone when I say that we headed for a biological correction similar to the financial correction we just had. Why? You can't trick risk. The only way to mitigate risk is with diversity. Biological, cultural and economic diversity is the only answer for risk -- meaning lots of small-scale, diversified things of all kinds coexisting in a healthy relationship. We're talking percolation versus circulation; diversity versus monocultures, fertility versus profitability, and relationships versus transactions."

So far, Tasch says, his slow money movement has 700 members, including about 50 people who have sent in $1,000 checks over the Internet and small local enterprises such as Vermont's Butterworks Farm, a $1 million annual yogurt business, as well as Let's Be Frank, a Berkeley, Calif.-based hotdog company, and Sky Vegetables and Local Harvest. At the Sante Fe slow money convention in September, there were 450 attendees from 34 states and six countries, he said. "Now we're trying to get 1 million people to sign the slow money principles and from that, build capacity."

He admits that early investors may not be "big money people" but instead, small money investors who are "frustrated with philanthropic foundations [that can sometimes invest their endowments into places that don't help the environment] and frustrated as philanthropists." Says Tasch: "We must bring money back down to the Earth. It's time to restore a bit of reality back into all of our lives."

For a copy of Tasch's petition of Slow Money principles, click here. For more on Tasch's slow money philosophy, see his March 2009 YouTube video.
(For more on the "slow movement" in general, see multimedia artist Douglas Gayeton talk about his new book, Slow, and the flat film techniques he uses to capture the stories of a village in Tuscany.)

— Marcia Stepanek

(Photo: Flickr)

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Twitteleh & Other Stories

In addition to its intellectual breadth, the annual PopTech conference is also known for its sense of humor, on display again this year in the selection of its varied "interstitials" — 10 short films making the rounds of the Web and shown at the start of each new PopTech program segment. Here are my favorites from the conference:

* Twitteleh -- Written by Reg Tigerman and directed and edited by Matt Johnson

* Autotuning -- By Casey Donahue, below:

* "1981 primitive Internet report on KRON" -- from the San Francisco station's archives

* Baby Workout -- By Gavin McInness

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