May 31, 2012

Exploring how to strengthen tools to engage citizens

By BC Gov Photos on Flickr

Gathering at MIT seeks to inspire & enable community action

JD LasicaIt’s been a crazy month of travel, with my giving talks at the Women’s funding Network Summit and the California State PTA convention in LA, a Google conference on Internet freedom in D.C., and now I’m in Boston for the next two days participating in an important gathering at the MIT Media Lab put together by the Knight Foundation.

Called the Tech for Engagement Summit, the invitation-only gathering brings together 70 leaders and innovators in new technologies for a collaborative working session. The overall goal, we’ve been told, is to explore and to buttress technologies that can be used “to inspire and facilitate on-the-ground action” at the community level. That requires strengthening the network of practitioners working in the space, reviewing the state of tech for engagement and coming up with opportunities to collaborate and work together in the months ahead.

In 2008 I wrote a 110-page book for the Aspen Institute on Civic Engagement on the Move: How mobile media can serve the public good (free download). And I’ve been involved with the Knight Foundation for years (and was among the first round of winners for the Knight News Challenge), so I admire convenings such as this that cut across sectors (business, social enterprise, government, nonprofit, academia) to get us to some common solutions to lift up our communities and make sure we have a strong foundation for citizen engagement at the local level.

An all-star cast of participants

Knight has pulled together an impressive list of participants, including:

  • Susan Crawford, Visiting Stanton Professor of the First Amendment, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Scott Geller, CTO and President, Points of Light Digital
  • Urs Gasser, Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
  • Marci Harris, CEO of POPVOX (whom I recently interviewed)
  • Joichi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab
  • Nancy Lublin, CEO + Chief Old Person,
  • Michael Smith, SVP of Social Innovation, The Case Foundation
  • Christopher Hoene, Director of the Center for Research and Innovation, National League of Cities
  • Jennifer Pahlka, Founder & Executive Director, Code for America
  • Max Schorr, Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer, GOOD
  • Micki Krimmel, Founder, NeighborGoods
  • Damian Thorman, National Program Director, Knight Foundation
  • Ethan Zuckerman, Director, Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab

Looking forward to connecting with everyone here. Not sure how much live-tweeting there’ll be, beginning late this afternoon and ending late Friday afternoon, but here’s the hashtag: #tech4engage

May 14, 2012

How to use social media for students & schools

PTA conference: Embracing community outreach while protecting student privacy

JD LasicaOn Friday I flew down to Anaheim to give a 90-minute presentation, “Communicating in a Networked World,” to a packed room of about 250 attendees at the California State PTA Convention.

We had a great give an take about how social media can be used, by Parent Teacher Associations and other organizations, to advance schools’ and school districts’ business goals. I present at a lot of workshops and it was great to see the amount of interaction throughout the session — not just questions to me but PTA reps pitching in to help their colleagues.

Topics covered Facebook, Twitter, storytelling, Pinterest,, community strategies and more. More than half the workshop was spent on Facebook — probably 80 percent of the PTAs in the room had a Facebook page, compared with 20 percent that had a Twitter account.

Business reasons for using social media

Why use social media if you’re a PTA or educational association? I suggested these reasons as a starting point:

  1. Enhance the educational experience at your school (this needs to be the main reason, and one that you revisit time and again)
  2. Promote your PTA, school or school district
  3. Involve the community in decision-making
  4. Feedback loop with community
  5. Enlist volunteers

Continue reading

October 13, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: The fight for the future

“One True Act of Patriotism” by Shysti: 3 minutes of hip hop-infused activism and public discontent.


A movement takes hold in cities across America

JD LasicaLike many of you, I’ve been captivated by how the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread to cities across nation in the past four weeks as the grassroots movement’s message has resonated with an increasing number of Americans.

We don’t get too political here at Socialbrite, given that we assist organizations of all political stripe learn how to use the social Web. But we’re been tracking the burgeoning Occupy movement as it’s spread from New York to Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and dozens of other cities, fueled by the great disparity in attention paid to average Americans — the 99 percent of us — compared to the outsize influence exercised by the top 1 percent. (Here’s a New York Times backgrounder and Wikipedia article on the evolution of the movement.)

Some related groups have jumped into the fray, such as Occupy D.C., which has been holding marches and meetings in Washington’s McPherson Square, organized via social media. Trendrr reports that Twitter conversations about the protests are producing 15,000 tweets per hour.

Consider what’s fueled this movement:

• The top 1 percent of Americans own 42 percent of the nation’s financial wealth. The 400 highest-income Americans — whose income averaged $227 million each — paid only 21.4 percent in federal income taxes, the IRS reports. And the richest 400 families own more wealth than about 150 million Americans combined. (Can you say, banana republic?) Oh, and you can bet many of those billionaires will be influencing the 2012 elections, with no counter-balance.

• Corporate profits have reached their highest level as a share of the economy since 1950s, the New York Times reported Sunday.

• Worker pay as a share of the economy is at its lowest point since the mid-1950s.

• Top wage earners are paying less in taxes than any time since the 1950s.

• Wall Street salaries have risen 11.2 percent per year over the past 30 years, while regular folks’ salaries have risen 1.8 percent, a new analysis shows.

• The jobless rate for college graduates under age 25 has averaged 9.6 percent over the past year.

As the Times’ editorial put it: “The country needs a shift in the emphasis of public policy from protecting the banks to fostering full employment, including public spending for job creation.”

Where to follow, and join, the movement

Here are a few of the places where you can keep on top of the latest Occupy Wall Street developments:

• On Twitter: #OWS, #occupy, #occupytogether, #occupywallst and #occupywallstreet.

• More than 900 events have been set up — get your Occupy Together widgets.

• The WeArethe99Percent blog on Tumblr chronicles the latest activities of the movement. Continue reading