May 2, 2012

An engaging, uplifting nonprofit promo video

Code for America from Inkerman Road on Vimeo.

Code for America: 5 tips on upping your video game

Lauren MajorCode for America, a nonprofit that uses technology to transform local governments, boasts a creative, compelling promotional video that not only clearly describes its message but also engages its viewers to get involved. In just five simple steps, any nonprofit can follow its example.

Be human and personal

1Be sure to make a personal connection early in the video. Many organizations and causes have a cohort of motivated, smiling people behind it. Bring these people to the forefront and show how upbeat and promising working for the cause is! Code for America illustrates its work environment by interviewing employees about what part of the job and cause they like. People are human and social creatures and are more inclined to stick with a video if they can relate to the on-screen subjects.

Use captivating visuals

2Watching a talking head is no fun for anyone. But listening to someone speak while looking at colorful flowers or a fun work environment is far more interesting. The supplemental footage in a video that does not capture a talking head is called b-roll. For example, Code for America’s video displays a shot of the office while founder Jennifer Pahlka speaks over it. Continue reading

August 10, 2010

Cool Gov 2.0 sites you don’t know about


Web 2.0-fueled resources to help each other as citizens

Target audience: Political activists, change agents, NGOs, nonprofits, social change organizations, educators, librarians, citizens.

JD LasicaIt’s become a cliché to be skeptical of what government can do for society. But there’s a burgeoning movement called Government 2.0, the term for attempts to apply the social networking and integration advantages of Web 2.0 to the practice of government.

Part of our mission at Socialbrite is to break down silos between sectors. We think activists, NGOs, nonprofits, cause organizations and others can benefit by taking advantage of the panoply of Gov 2.0 sites and resources that have sprung up in the past few years.

I’ve put together the following directory of Gov 2.0 resources — I’m guessing some of these will be new to you. Know of others? Please share your own favorites in the comments below.

See Socialbrite’s Sharing Center for the full directory of Gov 2.0 resources.

Government entities

tools-data Helping the public share useful information

Data is at the heart of Internet applications., which launched in May 2009, seeks to not just provide greater access to government data but to establish a framework that makes it possible for the public to create and share useful data. From the site: “As a priority Open Government Initiative for President Obama’s administration, increases the ability of the public to easily find, download, and use datasets that are generated and held by the Federal Government. provides descriptions of the Federal datasets (metadata), information about how to access the datasets, and tools that leverage government datasets. The data catalogs will continue to grow as datasets are added. Federal, Executive Branch data are included in the first version of” Start by browsing the Tool Catalog. See also: Open Government blog, Open Government Initiative, Open Government Working Group

DCgovLOGO The app store for Washington, DC

We think rocks — it provides apps and Web 2.0 solutions created or funded by the city of Washington, DC’s technology team as well as third-party apps created by independent developers. In some ways superior to the federal gov’s, provides a model for city governments everywhere to follow. Included are apps on where to find parking in DC, historic tours, crime info, wi-fi locations and a DC atlas. Related:,


GovLoop: Keeping gov employees in the loop

Asocial network for government begun in 2008 by a single federal employee in his spare time on the social platform Ning, GovLoop now has more than 30,000 members at all members of government. Its goal is simple: to foster communication and share ideas among government staffers.

Apps-gov Taking your agency to the cloud

Aproject of the U.S. General Services Administration, is a resource for cloud computing applications designed to make federal agencies harness Web 2.0 technologies such as cloud computing. The site says: “Whether it’s business or productivity applications, cloud IT services or social media solutions, is the place to get your government agency in the cloud.”

recovery Track Recovery Act spending

Slow to get off the ground, is the U.S. government’s official website that provides easy access to data
related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse.

Nonprofit & public-spirited organizations & projects


Code for America: Connecting city governments and Web 2.0 talent

Anonpartisan, non-political organization, Code for America helps city governments become more transparent, connected and efficient by connecting the talents of Web developers with people who deliver city services and want to embrace the transformative power of the web to achieve more impact while spending less. CFA works with city officials and coders to identify and develop Web solutions that can then be shared and rolled out more broadly to cities across America.


Do Tank: Ideas for democratic action

New York Law School’s The Do Tank: Democracy Design Workshop strives to strengthen the ability of groups to solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflict and govern themselves by designing software and legal code to promote collaboration. Tools alone cannot create a culture of strong groups. Hence Do Tank projects address the role of legal and political institutions, social and business practices and the visual and graphical technologies — what they term the “social code” — that may allow groups not only to foster community but to take action. Beth Simone Noveck, U.S. deputy chief technology officer for open government, founded it.


Expert Labs: Helping the government to listen

Anonprofit organization, Expert Labs is an independent initiative created in late 2009 to help policy makers in the U.S. government take advantage of the expertise of their fellow citizens. Its first major goal is to help the White House answer the question: What are the big scientific and technological challenges that America should tackle? Run by former SixApart executive Anil Dash, who was recruited by the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, Expert Labs may evolve into an incubator of Gov 2.0 projects.

Lawrence Lessig

FixCongressFirst: Fighting the influence of money in politics

Founded by author and Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, FixCongressFirst is a project of Change Congress, a nonpartisan advocacy organization whose sole purpose is to protect the independence of Congress by fighting the influence of money in politics. Its goal is to restore public trust in our government by passing a hybrid of small-dollar donations and public financing of elections.

govtrack Tracking the U.S. Congress

Afree Congress-tracking site begun in 2004, gathers the status of legislation, voting records and other congressional info from official government sites and then applies the latest technology to make the data more accessible and useful. The site reaches about 1 million people a month. Almost half the entries in Sunlight’s 2009 Apps for America contest drew on data from GovTrack.


MAPLight: Shining a light on politics & money

Anonpartisan, nonprofit based in Berkeley, Calif., offers search tools that illuminate the connection between Money And Politics (MAP) via a database of campaign contributions and legislative outcomes. Its Committees Tool provides a window into special interest influence, revealing campaign contributions received by each committee member from special interest groups for key bills placed before every Congressional committee. Interview at Socialbrite.


Open Congress: Track congressional bills & votes

At OpenCongress, everyone can be an insider by tracking congressional bills and votes by members of the Senate and House. OpenCongress is a free and open-source joint project of two nonprofits, the Participatory Politics Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation.


OpenSecrets: Investigating money in politics

Aproject of the Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets shows the connection between money and influence, offering tools, datasets and a blog. For example, its OpenData release lists the top 100 organizations across industries and makes the data downloadable in various formats. The center is continually enhancing the site to help us see who’s giving and who’s getting.

public-resource Making public information public

Anonprofit organization, has been instrumental in placing government information on the Internet, such as these reports detailing codes passed by California state agencies. Its founder and president is Carl Malamud, author of eight books and former CTO of the Center for American Progress.


Sunlight Foundation: Making government transparent & accountable

Aa nonpartisan nonprofit based in Washington, DC, the Sunlight Foundation uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable. The organization focuses on the digitization of government data and the creation of tools and websites to make that data easily accessible for all citizens. It’s a think tank, campaign, investigative organization, grant-giving institution and open source technology community rolled into one. See especially its Sunlight Labs project. interview with co-founder Ellen Miller. Continue reading

June 2, 2010

Gov 2.0: A new roundup of resources


Government entities, public-spirited orgs and more

Gov20JD LasicaThis afternoon I’ll be speaking on a panel at Personal Democracy Forum in New York on “Refining Your Social Media Smarts: Campaign Successes From YouTube to Facebook to Twitter,” following the Mobilize Your Cause Bootcamp I co-presented yesterday at CUNY to 40 participants to kick off the PDF conference.

I’ve been deeply interested in Government 2.0 for years, from my discussions with United We Serve and the Obama transition team’s discussions about supporting All for Good to our meeting with California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

This week Socialbrite has released a directory of Government 2.0 resources as part of our growing Sharing Center. Some of the sites include: Helping the public share useful information The app store for Washington, DC

GovLoop: Keeping gov employees in the loop Taking your agency to the cloud

Code for America: Connecting city governments and Web 2.0 talent

MAPLight: Shining a light on politics & money Continue reading