Ideas for the online revolution.

The Midwest Academy Organizing Model - Several Criticisms

Several important criticisms of the Midwest Academy's model which is commonly used in the student movement (ex. Grassroots Organizing Weekend - GROW trainings)

The Midwest Academy Organizing Model - Several Criticisms

MSN New Search Goes Live

MSN had been testing their new search engine for months. Now it is online. At least some of the time. You won't always see it. This being online is a bad thing because they didn't improve it.

I'm mad that the number one ranked website for "activism" is a spam site. It belongs to a network of inter-linking websites that are all owned by the same company. These websites do not rank in Google. Probably Google banned them for being spam. This spam site has a keyword density of almost 50% in the meta keywords and description tags.

The websites in this network have public forums. Their forums suck. They make money from ads.

CampusActivism Update

I'm currently doing a lot of networking with other activist tech projects. I'm strongly considering working with CivicSpace which is a Content Management System (CMS) based on Drupal. It's popular among politically oriented developers.

CivicSpace emerged from DeanSpace (a website platform used for Dean groups, in Howard Dean's 2004 run for the Democratic nomination).

CivicSpace is still in its early stages (version 0.8), but they have big plans. They have the same goals that I do - namely of creating a network of websites that share activism data. CivicSpace is currently running on 100 websites. Thus it makes sense to join-in on the project. Hopefully I'll fit in!

A Review of MoveOn.org

An excellent review of what Moveon.org has been up to recently.
Part I
Part II

Large Chocolate Bar Spotted

Before Christmas, Trader Joes had a massive stack of 10 pound Ghirardelli semi-dark chocolate bars for $19.99. Unfortunately they contained milk.

Very Early Beta of GOAD Works

GOAD (Grassroots Online Activist/m Database), aka "The Network", to a large degree works. You could add, edit, search, and browse - and it will generally work. This makes me *extremely* happy!!!

At first I thought I had a serious slowness issue on my hands (it took 30 seconds to add a person), but now I suspect that the problem isn't so bad and that my webhosting company was partially to blame (the server was running slow). Now the server is doing better and you can add a person in 5 seconds with GOAD. Editing a person takes the same amount of time. By contrast you can add/edit a person in approximately 1 second if you do it directly on campusactivism.org. Browsing is much less of a problem as that only takes 1 second with GOAD.

Classism in the Student Movement

I recently wrote up some research that I did in 2000 looking at how national student groups (USAS, YDS, SPAN, MDE) have more chapters in elite universities. I used the US and News World Report rankings for universities. For instance, USAS had 11 times more groups in the top quartile of schools than in the bottom quartile. It's just a short note - about a page long.

The most active groups (as evidenced in USAS by the inequality in the schools that had sit-ins which was greater than that of its membership), and probably the organizational leadership as well are even more stratified in terms of class.

Sharing a Database - Ideas Regarding Standards for Developers

I'm working hard on creating a system to share an online activism database between as many websites as want to join in (it's looking like a beta will come out in January - email me if you want to help test it!).

So far, as one of the very few individuals involved in sharing activist data and putting it online, I've been deciding on my own what information to track. With sharing it gets fun because people will have different ideas on what we should be tracking.

I see several options.

1. We can require that everyone tracks the same data. The reason to do this would be to avoid having incomplete data. For instance, if you were tracking student activists and some websites didn't ask for graduation dates - you'd run into trouble. I learned in sociology, doing linear regressions, that missing data is messy.

Comments

I turned anonymous comments off, because of all the spam comments (from people who want to generate links to their websites).

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win (A Game): A Civilization Scenario for the US/Canadian Student Movement

This is a feasible idea that would be a lot of fun, but I don't have enough time or motivation to implement. I'd help if someone wanted to work on it.

Civilization III (Conquests version) provides a gaming platform which can be extensively modified to create realistic scenarios. You can recreate the fantasy world of Middle Earth, Star Trek, or the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Or you could create a game where different national student activist groups struggle for organizational supremacy!

I say this having been a member of one organization which challenged another organization to a mud-wrestling competition that was to be held at a big national conference.

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