Foursquare Checkins On Election Day

FourSquare LogoYou know the dandy little sticker you get after voting, “I VOTED!”? Foursquare, the popular mobile-based geo-location game has collaborated with Rock the Vote, Pew Center, Google and the Voting Information Project to create the digital version for the upcoming election. “Every day we see new examples of Foursquare encouraging and reinforcing positive behaviors,” said Foursquare’s Eric Friedman in a statement. “We’re excited to harness the power of Foursquare to drive civic engagement through the ‘I Voted’ badge.” Foursquare currently has over 4 million users. You can download the app to your phone, and/or sign up online.

To pull it off, they’ve collected data on 107,000 polling places. When users check in at these locations and include the hashtag #ivoted, they’ll get the “I Voted” badge in Foursquare, and be added to real time maps and data collected from around the country.

The Foursqaure project builds on the 2008 Twitter #VoteReport, a project that allowed users to share information during the presidential election about their polling places (what was going well, and not so well) in order to make sure everyone was able to vote in a timely and accurate way. Data from the Foursquare project will be used to plan additional initiatives to increase voter turnout and ensure smooth voting experiences for the 2012 presidential election. You can follow the project on election day here.

Allison Fine, one of the co-creators of Twitter #VoteReport, and co-author with Beth Kanter of the excellent book The Networked Nonprofit, will be presenting a webinar with Darim on November 3, from 1-2pm in celebration of our 10th anniversary. All are welcome to this free webinar (though space is limited). Register here!

I’ll be checking in on election day. Will you?

Women Who Tech – I’m Not The Average Story

womenwhotechThere’s a good thing cooking on September 15th. It’s the third annual Women Who Tech summit, a series of phone-based panels featuring the who’s who of women in technology, includingRashmi Sinha of SlideShare, Kaliya Hamlin of Shes Geeky, Shireen Mitchell of Digital Sistas, Beth Kanter, Amy Sample Ward, Michelle Murrain, and Lauren Vargas,, Irene Au of Google, Amy Jo Kim of ShuffleBrain, Heather Harde of Tech Crunch, and Lynne d. Johnson, formerly of Fast Company and now with the Advertising Research Foundation (plus a couple smart men, such as Clay Shirky and Geoff Livingston). The event is a series of stellar panels (again, by phone, so you can participate from anywhere), including “Social Media ROI”, “Launching Your Own Startup”, and “Self Promotion: Is This Really a Rant About Gender?”.

I totally get the premise of the summit, that women are underrepresented in mainstream media and blogs and conference panels, that we need to break down barriers to women’s participation in the technology sector, and the need to create a network of women in technology who can be called upon as experts in their field.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, “only about 11% of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing in 2009 had current or former female CEOs or female founders, according to data from Dow Jones VentureSource. The prestigious start-up incubator Y Combinator has had just 14 female founders among the 208 firms it has funded.” Women Who Tech is not the only women-focused event on the calendar. In December, the influential technology conference TED is holding its first women-focused conference. (More stats and resources about women in tech are available here.) I applaud these events, not for their sometimes interpreted as “affirmative action for women” approach, but for their celebration and encouragement of women who are breaking down perceived (as well as actual) barriers.

The thing is, I grew up in a different world, where my CEO-of-educational-technology-startups mother worked long hours to excel at her career, make the world a better place, and be a 100% mom at the same time. It’s possible that she worked harder than her male colleagues, or had more to balance with her roles at home, but from my point of view as a kid and young adult, women could do anything. The fact that I have chosen to work in a tech-related field isn’t because I am trying to change percentages, or represent my gender in high level decision making. It’s because it excites me, and I’m good at it. Gender never played into my decision (if it had, I would be doing something else?), and it rarely presents itself as an issue in my professional life.

That being said, there are definitely times when I look around the room and find myself in the company of mostly men. I like to think I’m rather Zen about it. I take note, and then move on. Recently, I’ve been putting together a panel for a social media session at a major national Jewish conference. I’m struggling to find a man for the panel, you know, just for the sake of diversity. So in my world, thankfully, the experience is not as one-sided as the venture capital statistics seem to say. (Note to self: I wonder how different is actually is in the nonprofit world – reflecting on my experiences at NTEN conferences, the presenters are heavily weighted towards women. Currently seeking the latest stats). The goal here is not 50/50 equality all the time. The goal is to recognize both real and perceived barriers, and to abolish them.

While others may interpret events like the upcoming Women Who Tech and TEDWomen as equally sexist as the venture capitalists whose decision making percentages they quote, I think the greatest power of these events is to give women who didn’t have moms like mine a similar sense of “anything is possible.” Further, as women, we do face unique challenges (as me sometime about the weeks leading up to announcing to my clients that I was pregnant for the first time, or how I paced around the house with a newborn in a sling, the wireless phone clipped to my hip, and a headset on – someone should have taken a photo). But most of all, these events are tremendous for one main reason: they showcase tremendous talent, all in one place.

The Women Who Summit event is an easy-to-swallow $20. Really. So mark your calendar for September 15th, from 11am to 6pm Eastern time. All you need is an internet connection and a phone line. Check out the schedule and register online. There are even after parties in a handful of major cities. I might try and get myself to the New York City one. Anyone care to join me?

Plus, I’ve got 2 passes to give away. Leave your comment here with your thoughts on gender and technology and I’ll pick two winners before Rosh Hashanah (September 8th). But go ahead and buy your pass now. You can always give it to the nice gal (or guy) down the hall. With a pink bow around it. Or not.

Data Is The New Soil. What Are You Growing?

It is no surprise that we’re increasing inundated with data. The amount of information collected and recorded is unprecendented. The question is: what will we do with it, and what value does it have. In for-profit business, the data about online purchases, demographics, or reasons for calls to a customer service line help a company be more effective, efficient, and ultimately profitable.

As I’ve worked with many Jewish organizations, I’ve learned that few are tracking data in useful ways, and even fewer are using this data to improve their programs, communication or allocation of resources. Data collection and analysis goes far beyond what funders may ask for in grant reporting, and productive data usage requires first and foremost that you’re asking the right questions.

In this TED video, David McCandless shows the power of data visualization. While the raw data may be overwhelming and not particularly useful, visualizing data may bring important patterns and relationships to light, and laying data sets on top of one another (frequency and geography, for example) can uncover important stories that otherwise would have been invisible. This “knowledge compression”, as he calls it, makes data useful. For those of us not yet collecting much data at all, these new ways of looking at the data may inspire us to start!

David says the word in the street is that “data is the new oil,” meaning it’s ubiquitous resource that can be used for different purposes. He adapts this to “data is the new soil”. And data visualization is flowers blooming from this fertile foundation. Check out the video from TED for more, including a few laughs:

Crowdsourcing the Jewish Future: What’s Your Vision?

[crossposted from jlearn2.0] Passionate about Jewish learning? Have Big Ideas about what 21st Century Jewish learning might look like? Share your vision … and you just might win an all expense trip to the upcoming Jewish Futures Conference – not to mention a world-wide audience!

BJENY-SAJES and JESNAs Lippman-Kanfer Institute invite you to submit a short video that communicates your response to the following question:

As we move toward a world where learning happens anywhere and everywhere, authored by anyone, what could Jewish learning and life look like in the future?

Those submitting the top three responses will be flown to New Orleans on November 7-8, 2010 (all expenses paid) to present their thinking at the Jewish Futures Conference. The Conference will be held on Monday, November 8, 2010 as part of the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America.

High profile presenters, combined with up and coming innovators from the Jewish and general world, will each be given 10-18 minutes to describe their vision for the future of Jewish learning in the context of emerging new digital and social technologies.

Submissions will be accepted in the form of 4 minute videos by August 27, 2010 and should be sent to: [email protected]

Questions? Contact Rabbi Arnold D. Samlan: [email protected]

What are you waiting for? Come on over and check out submission and event details here now!

What’s your vision? Share a preview in the comments below!

Apply Now: Get Your Leadership On With NTEN’s Technology Leadership Academy

nten leadership academy logo Yes, folks, it may be summer but it’s time to start thinking about going back to school! NTEN is offering a special 9 week webinar-based Technology Leadership Academy. The Academy will accept 50 nonprofits with budgets under $2 million, to be represented by 2 participants from each organization, including the executive director and a tech-responsible individual.

Attendees of the Academy will be able to:

  • Articulate the value of technology in their organization for themselves, funders, and other key stakeholders.
  • View technology as integral to every department in their organizations.
  • Recognize options for funding IT projects in their organizations.
  • Staff technology effectively.
  • Manage the organizational change that technology can produce.

Topics include:

  • Future of IT in Nonprofits / Presented by Edward Granger-Happ
  • IT Planning and Implementation / Presented by Steve Heye & John Merritt
  • Introduction to IT and Systems / Presented by Andy Wolber
  • Information Management Systems / Presented by Laura Quinn
  • Effective Internet Presence / Presented by Katya Andresen
  • Evaluation: Technology ROI / Presented by Beth Kanter
  • The Human Side of Technology / Presented by James Weinberg
  • Weekly Ask the Experts sessions including Charlene Li, Founder of Altimeter Group and Auther of Open Leadership

The Academy is being offered through the generous support of Microsoft and will run from September 29 – November 22.

Learn more about the Academy and guidelines for application here and if you qualify and are interested apply here!

Don’t miss out – the deadline for applications is Friday, July 30th. Applicants will be notified of their status by August 6, 2010.

Why Old Spice is So Spicy

A new phenomenon has taken over the social media airwaves these last few days. Out of the blue, least expected, it’s the Old Spice Guy. I don’t watch much TV, so I missed the TV ads earlier this year where Old Spice introduced actor Isaiah Mustafa (“the man your man could smell like”). With a serious voice and a towel wrapped around his waist, the Old Spice Guy has responded to questions and comments received through Twitter, Facebook and Reddit via 30 second YouTube videos. Haven’t seen them? Entertain yourself on their branded YouTube channel (which opens with the original commercial if you haven’t seen it).

Throughout the short and intense blitz, Old Spice had uploaded over 180 videos for its campaign, which have generated over 5.9 million views and 22,500 comments. (Source: Network World).

viral video chartThe campaign is fascinating for its viral success. This chart from Visible Measures shows it’s relative success compared with President Obama’s victory speech, the video of President Bush’s dodging of a thrown shoe, and Susan Boyle’s surprising vocal performance on TV, all major viral hits.

The secret? While Old Spice Guy responded to regular folks (Johannes S. Beals tweeted a request for a marriage proposal to his girlfriend), he also focused many of his responses to questions posed by sports stars, celebrities and major publications. For example the online tech site Gizmodo asked via Twitter, “will anything surpass the loofah as the predominant body wash-applying technology?” The response was this. And of course, Gizmodo posted the response video on its website and other channels, amplifying the views even more.

George Stephonopoulos and Justine Bateman got responses, as did Perez Hilton (669,000 views) and Ellen Degeneres (284,000 views). Alyssa Milano has enjoyed a series of flirty virtual courtings, including a delivery of flowers from the Old Spice Guy. Guy Kawasaki (Silicon Valley venture capitalist and social media maven) got a humorous reply, playing off his name:

The first key lesson here is about connecting with your audience personally. While Old Spice is only responding to a relatively small number of questions, Mustafa is speaking directly to individuals, seemingly person to person, rather than logo to consumer. There’s a big difference.

Second is knowing how to use your influencers. Isaiahs first videos responded to bloggers and journalists that had written about the Old Spice commercials. He then moved to celebrities, and chose random individuals whose questions or comments would make for great entertainment (like the marriage proposal). By responding to people (and companies) with large audiences, Old Spice is able to leverage their brands to exponentially increase their own success. And when the campaign starts to get viral, everyone wins. Gizmodo, for example, is thrilled to have gotten a video response (and a few million people may have just learned about Gizmodo for the first time), and Old Spice is thrilled Gizmodo posted is on their own site (reaching millions of their readers). It’s a win-win for all.

Third, make it fun! If people are enjoying engaging in your campaign (tweeting, sharing, talking about at Starbucks or at the gym), it will intensify. Whether you’re selling Old Spice or trying to get people to come to Jewish Trivia Night (my favorite tweet comes from @SixthandI Synagogue: “Test your knowledge to the tune of ‘Let’s get quizzical…quizzical’ I see you dancing 80’s style in your cubicle,” followed by a link to their event.

Want to learn more?

Rick Bakas gives a good overview of why this social media marketing campaign is so effective including a reminder to have fun.

ReadWriteWeb shares the inside scoop on how marketing firm Wieden Kennedy created and executed the campaign, including all night filming sessions in Portland, OR, where they averaged 7 min of production for each 30 second response.

FastCompany interviews the team that orchestrated the campaign.

And a guy from Reddit asked for the audio to create an Old Spice Guy voicemail message. He responded with many audio options to create the message. Now you can have your own. http://www.oldspicevoicemail.com . While the 2 day blitz of video responses may have ended this morning, it’s fascinating to see how others have picked up the ball and run with it.

How are you empowering and energizing your community to support your mission and goals? While the Old Spice campaign may seem leagues away from nonprofit endeavors, the lessons learned from this success surely apply. Use your influencers. Make it personal. And remember to have fun.

Cleveland Jewish Federation Puts Community at Your Fingertips

Turns out Birthright Israel NEXT isnt the only Jewish organization with an iPhone app. In addition to BRI NEXTs Mila4Phone, there are hundreds of other Jewish apps available through the iTunes store. Some of them are Torah related, others are related to Shabbat, prayer, Kashruth, or learning.

One organization that is leading this trend in the Jewish community is the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland. Its app, Jewish CLE, features a community calendar, interactive maps, a community director and links to the Federations YouTube channel, twitter feed and event photos.

JewPoint0 caught up Steph Dlugon, director product marketing of iNomadics, creator of Jewish CLE, to learn more about how the app came together.

A look at Jewish CLE's Calendar function

How did Jewish CLE come to be?

About a year ago, iNomadics had this idea about creating apps for places like nonprofits, and community and arts organizations. Because nonprofits always have events or time sensitive information that they need to get out to their constituents, we felt they needed to develop a mobile presence. We approached the Jewish Federation of Cleveland with the idea of developing an app. The Cleveland Federation thought it was a good idea and we started working with the people there to figure out what their needs would be and to develop the best features. A year ago was early on for nonprofit organizations to be thinking about the mobile web. One of our challenges was to find a forward-thinking group that saw the benefit of a tool like this. Even though it took some time to hash out the details, initial talks with the Cleveland Federation were really promising. They seemed to get the idea, the benefits and usefulness of having an app right away.
Whats so important about a mobile presence?

I think about the Internet of the 90s, when everyone scrambled to have a website. That same trend is happening now with going mobile, and its happening much faster than in the past. Its important for organizations, if they want to stay viable, to adopt a complete mobile strategy. And the ones that do will be able to stay relevant and thrive.

What was it like working with the Cleveland Federations leadership? We had talks with different groups within the organization throughout the whole process. Because the app was a pretty new idea, we had a bit of a challenge trying to explain its benefits to different groups in the organization. If we ever got stuck, we would regroup and bring in other people to help make it work… If there is one lesson learned its the importance of open communication from the beginning so that everyone understands what is happening.

What is Jewish CLE all about?

There are a couple layers to it. First is the news feature, which just gets information to people, and that is why I think its being downloaded all over the world. Second is the events piece, which has events from entire Jewish community, not just Federation events. That is an engagement piece that is really important. A lot of organizations in the community can benefit from the app, which should help to bridge all gaps in community. Another piece to the app is the call to action stuff. Were trying to direct people to different ways to get involved. Not just directing people to the Federation to donate. We are helping people learn more about the Federation, which helps to connect people and get them on the same page. If the end result is information or donations either way to us its awesome.

How are you evaluating or tracking the impact of the app?

There is not really a formal evaluation process on our end. Im sure the Cleveland Federation is tracking usage and downloads. We are looking for feedback from users from the Federation on how to improve it. But, measurement and evaluation is an interesting concept. Consider: do we look for ways to justify the printing of calendar, or of owning a phone system? No, that is just the basics of running a business. We have to get past the question of should we or shouldnt we? to the question of should we do it this way or that way?

So, readers: Have you downloaded the CLE app? Thoughts? This way or that way?

The Networked Nonprofit

Last week I dove into the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Conference, commonly known at #10NTC. (I dare you, search for that on Twitter and see how active is STILL is, days after the conference wrapped up. Us NPtechies are an enthusiastic, passionate and smart bunch. You can also find 58 Powerpoints from the conference on Slideshare, 870 photos on Flickr, videos on Youtube … need I go on?)

Screen shot 2010-04-09 at 4.18.20 PMOne of the best sessions I attended was where Beth Kanter and Allison Fine (among the gurus of nonprofit technology) presented their upcoming book, The Networked Nonprofit (due out in June, but you can preorder here). These two women completely understand the future of nonprofit organizations in the digital age, and I could listen to their wisdom, humor and case studies for days.

One element from their presentation keeps knocking around in my head, the idea of three stages of organizational development in this networked era.

  1. Fortress – an organization where there are insiders and outsiders, and the two rarely meet or interact;
  2. Transactional – an organization that is engaged with their community, but with the sole focus of transactions, such as getting people to sign up for an event or make a donation;
  3. Transparent – an organization that fully engages and empowers their community to accomplished shared goals.

I love the simplicity of these three stages, and the acknowledgment that getting on social media platforms is not the ultimate goal. Plenty of people are promoting events on Facebook and measuring success by the number of tushes in the seats. But the real paths to accomplishing our mission and goals, and the more accurate measurements of success go far beyond this. They also require a leap of faith, and the ability to take that first leap.

Remember the first time you climbed to the top of a high dive as a kid, your heart beating so hard you thought it would leap out of your chest, and that moment when you finally hurled yourself into the air? It’s the same moment really. And remember when you went back again and again and again to do it over and over? Yeah, it’s like that too.

So tell us — what stage are you at? What do you need to move from one stage to the next? Where do you see examples of “transparent” organizations or activities?

Learn Hebrew in the Palm of Your “Yad”

In January, Birthright Israel NEXT launched its first iPhoneapplication, Mila-4-Phone. The application (app), a Hebrew-learning program that uses flashcards and includes audio pronunciation, has been downloaded more than 3,000 times so far.

Such success signals the grand potential for Jewish organizations to use apps to reach their constituents in a new way: right in the palm of their hand.

Graphic from Mila-4-Phone App
Graphic from Mila-4-Phone App

Apps are what websites were to an organization ten years ago, Daniel Brenner, executive director of Birthright Israel NEXT, said. Back then, we used to joke “you are not real until you are virtual.”

Brenner makes a good point. In the web of the 1990s, websites were static and reference-focused. Today, the web is increasingly more fast-paced and social-focused thanks to the ubiquity of user generated content and the rise of social networking sites.

As apps bring the social web to phones and other mobile devices, organizations are pressed to deliver valued-added content that is more than just reference material.

Apps challenge organizations to show how ongoing, updated information from the organization is relevant to users, Brenner said.

For Birthright Israel NEXT, the key to compelling content was listening to its target base, a population that was expressing interest in returning to Israel and learning Hebrew.

We view the iPhone app as having two mission related functions one educational and one community building, Brenner said. One element of our mission is to deepen the connections that young adults have to Israel Hebrew learning certainly does just that.

But the real power of the app is that it is building a community of over three thousand young adults who share an interest in Hebrew language. Since we are involved in promoting ulpanim in ten cities and in holding ‘beit cafe’ events where Americans can meet Israeli peers and work on their Hebrew, the iPhone app serves as a magnet for folks with a shared interest and has encouraged people to meet others who want to learn Hebrew.

While the app may not be for every Birthright Israel alumni, it has attracted a large, focused following with more than 3,000 downloads from 49 countries.

Niche followings are the best type of followings, Brenner said. Knowing that over 3,000 young adults who are for the most part unaffiliated Jews and who did not go to Jewish day school all want to learn Hebrew is a very good thing.

Seeing a Jewish organization invest in a new technology and using it to reach its base in a 21st century model transcending space, time and place is definitely a very good thing.

So good that other Jewish organizations are taking notice. For instance, Mazon has an iPhone app as does the Cleveland Jewish Federation, which launched Jewish Cleveland in March.

Will apps be the new websites of the 2010s?Are you or your Jewish organization thinking about creating an app? Sound off in our comments.

Video of Mila-4-Phone in Action

To learn more about Mila-4-Phone check it out here.If you dont have an iPhone, or iPod touch, you can still join in on the mobile- Hebrew-learning fun with Birthright Israel NEXTs Hebrew Word-A-Day Text Messaging program. Just text Hebrew to 41411 to get started.

No More Scissors and Paste: Bringing the Shabbat Service Online

By Matthew Grossman, BBYOs Executive Director

Last week BBYO announced the launch of what I believe is an exciting, inventive tool available to engage teens in a meaningful Shabbat experience: Build a Prayer. As a free, online tool the site is designed to connect youth with prayer and Shabbat like never before by allowing them to build and customize their own service.

At BBYO, I constantly see teens, advisors and staff members using unique spaces and creativity to offer relevant, powerful Shabbat services, a unique challenge since most teens have only experience services within their synagogue. This challenge is only made more difficult by the fact that most teens arent comfortable in a traditional siddur they dont know where services start and end, what to include, or what is safe to leave out.

To meet that need (and often times to save money), these worship services are typically guided by a teen-designed collection of songs, poetry and prayers that is compiled through an effort of photocopying, cutting and pasting together old song sheets and prayer book passages. As an organization, we saw the need to provide Jewish teens with an accessible place to explore prayer and its meanings doing it online also happens to save some glue.

What makes this site so exciting is that it brings thousands-of-years-old prayers into a modern day realm that teens relate to. It is streamlined and easy to use. In a few clicks of a button, teens have a complete service in front of them in which they feel some much needed connections. While not every teen feels comfortable finding their way in a traditional siddur, Build a Prayer allows teens to put together a basic Shabbat service in a space they can easily navigate.

The site is designed for teens, educators, camp counselors, youth group advisors, JCC professionals, chavurah leaders basically, anyone who is interested in putting together a Shabbat service in a formal or informal setting. The site allows Hebrew, English and/or transliterated text to be compiled with ones own pictures, prayers or poetry toward the creation of a custom Prayer Service which can be printed and used anywhere.

With help from www.myjewishlearning.org and a series of videos, users can learn more about the traditions and tunes behind specific prayers. Additionally, a content library holds creative elements from individual prayer services as they are created. Because this is an online resource, people can collaborate on the development of each service and comment on them once they are placed in the Build a Prayer library.

While recent studies show that participation in traditional religious experiences decline during the teen years, the desire to connect spiritually on ones own terms remains strong. Build a Prayer is another resource we are offering the Jewish community as a way to better connect with Jewish teens. Organizations looking to reach the teen audience should look at this as a tool to literally bring prayer to life.

Matt Grossman is the Executive Director of BBYO. He began his career at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Matt is also a member of the Darim Online board of directors. Matt currently lives in Washington, DC where he works at BBYO’s international headquarters.