Of all the problems that plague the plugged-in, social worker, one of the simplest remains the hardest to solve: Syncing…
Separating my SXSW swag into “take it home” and “throw it out” piles shows what makes for good, memorable promotional materials.
Our decision to open source Social Signal’s intellectual property has made me rethink my proposed panel for SXSW. This week, I’ve heard from folks who (like us) are eager to share their social media “secrets”. So why not use that to see whether social media experts to live up to their own hype?<
What I learned from my dear friend Michael: about love, about the world, and about having a damn good time.
Stop keeping up.
That’s the central message of my latest post for Harvard Business Online, in which I argue that we’re seduced by the relentless flood of must-have social networks, applications and gadgets. We focus on keeping up with the latest thing, instead of focusing on what’s important to us and looking for the technologies that support our own personal and business priorities.
For the past two months, I've been part of the digital strategy team for The Elders, an extraordinary NGO that was launched last year by Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel. The vision is to convene a council of elders for the global village; the founding elders include Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mary Robinson and Kofi Annan.
As part of this work, I've been supporting the web team for Every Human Has Rights, a campaign to spread awareness and support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year is the sixtieth anniversary of UDHR, and being part of its celebration is a wonderful echo of one of the first pieces of work I did as a grad student at Harvard, thirteen years ago. (Ouch!) At that time I was a research assistant for Andrew Moravcsik, helping him research an article on international human rights regimes (PDF) that he published in time to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the UDHR.
Moravcsik's article focused particularly on the creation of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), which, unlike the UNDHR, was designed to be an enforceable document that would give individuals the legal standing to pursue human rights issues in an international court of law. What the ECHR advanced was the idea of personal, individual-level responsibility for human rights advocacy; what it lost was the boldness and breadth of vision of the UDHR.
The EHHR project recognizes that online networks provide a way to have your human rights cake, and eat it too. EHHR is focusing on each of the core themes of the UN Declaration, a sweeping document that addresses basic rights in areas from religion to employement, and from freedom of expression to healthcare. But by asking people around the world to sign on personally — over the web — as supporters of that Declaration, it's reawakening the idea that each and every one of us has a role to play in supporting human rights.
And that role doesn't need to be limited to a courtroom. One of the key partners on the EHHR project is Witness, an online NGO that uses video and web technology to tackle human rights abuses around the world. Through EHHR and Witness's user-driven site, The Hub, anyone in the world can be an active advocate for human rights — a personal witness — by contributing a video or online story.
EHHR and Witness are just two pieces of a large and growing online ecosystem for supporting human rights worldwide. Global Voices Online gathers bloggers from around the world, including many who are writing under adverse — even life-threatening — conditions in their home countries. Ushahidi and the Tunisian Prison Map are putting human rights abuses in Kenya and Tunisia on the map (literally). The Martus project provides digital security tools to protect the effectiveness and safety of people working on the front lines of human rights protection.
The growing online human rights ecosystem of which EHHR is a part didn't exist when Moravcsik wrote his article. At the time, the courts were the best option — really, the only meaningful option — for individuals to engage in the public sphere of human rights. What made that interesting to Moravcsik was the way that human rights agreements allowed governments to dig themselves into structural commitments to human rights, with citizens serving as the hypothetical watchdogs.
Today there's a whole new set of tools to give those hypothetical watchdogs real teeth. But now, citizens don't have to wait to be invited into that role, nor do they have to find their way into a courtroom. They just have to pick up a cell phone, a camera, or a keyboard, and they can hold human rights violations accountable in the court of global public opinion.
The technologies are all there….all that's missing is the recognition of meaningful personal accountability for human rights. That's what EHHR puts back in the picture, by asking and every one of us to sign a personal commitment to the bold vision the UN set forth sixty years ago.
Of course, when the Declaration was written, most UN members would not have envisioned a world in which access to global communications could be virtually universal. Now that we have it, it's time to make human rights universal, too.
We're often approached by business and nonprofit organizations who are interested in tapping the power of the social web but don't know where to start, or how to get a feel for the possibilities. I'm delighted to be co-teaching a Hollyhock-in-Vancouver workshop next month that will be a great opportunity for Vancouver-based organizations to get smart about Web 2.0:
Web 2.0 and your organizationÂ
Are you interested in how online communities like Flickr, MySpace, and YouTube can empower your members and customers to carry your message out into the world? Could your organization benefit from deeper collaboration among your team members, clients, partners or the public? Could better knowledge-sharing, stronger relationships and closer communications inside your organization and with your core supporters foster more efficiency, insight and effectiveness?
The latest generation of "Web 2.0" or social web strategies and tools offer powerful opportunities for organizations to improve the way they work, communicate their messages, empower others, and serve the public. In this workshop you will learn how the latest tools for online collaboration and community building can make your organization smarter and more effective.
This workshop is designed for communications strategists, marketing managers, and webmasters who are interested in how this evolution of the web can help evolve your organization's online strategy. We will give you the tools, knowledge, and most crucially, the vision for how your organization can use the web as a stronger agent of change. Weâ€™ll also cover the nuts-and-bolts, introducing the latest tools so that you know which options are most promising for your needs.
About the presenters: Jason Mogus is the CEO of Communicopia, which has helped progressive companies and non-profits communicate and collaborate via the web for 13 years. Jason is also the founder of Web of Change at Hollyhock. Alexandra Samuel, PhD (Harvard), is CEO of Social Signal, and is helping some of the web's most ambitious community ecosystems use the social web to support dialogue and collaboration.
This workshop is co-sponsored by the Hollyhock Leadership Institute, Web of Change, Social Signal, Communicopia, Social Tech Brewing, and Impacs.
Visit the Hollyhock site, call 800-933-6339 x232, or e-mail registration[at]hollyhock.ca