Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The digital economy is thriving in DC

As Digital Capital Week 2010 came to a close this weekend, it was clear that DC has a vibrant digital economy. The event also demonstrated the many opportunities to use social media for social good. This 10-day event was chock-full of interesting, forward-looking discussions. Here are some of the highlights.

Transparency in government
The government is using new technologies to engage its citizens in a more open and transparent way. Data is being made more accessible.  The panelists seemed to agree that within the next 18 months much of the data would be available. This prompted Clay Johnson, who recently left Sunlight Labs, to say that the next step in transparency is an “information diet” meaning that we need to be careful about the news sources we select.

Alex Howard wrote a great summary of the Gov 2.0 sessions on Huffington Post.

Open leadership
Charlene Li, author of Open Leadership, talked about how social media can change the way people lead. Her thoughts on organizational change are relevant particularly as the government becomes more participatory. She encourages leaders to define the rules of engagement in the "sandbox" of openness.  Read the introduction.

Focus on organizational goals
A theme running throughout the week was the importance of using social media strategically. There are many ways to engage your audience, but the focus should not be on the technology. The bottom line is social media can help achieve the goals of the organization. I'll write more about this in future posts.

The connected me
At the 140 Conference, organizer Jeff Pulver described how he connected with a variety of people through Twitter.  In his opening remarks he emphasized the social value of social media. People can donate skills, not just money.  You can catch part of what he said in the last two minuets of this video. The program he put together showed the application of micro-blogging in areas as diverse as emergency response, education, dating, film making and the military.

Failure and criticism in public
We learn from our mistakes. But in social media, our mistakes take place in a very public way. Geoff Livingston, Allyson Kapin, and Justin Thorp described their experiences of failing or being criticized in public.  Simply put, the conversation will happen with or without you. You have to decide how to participate. Geoff wrote about the topic here. Jill Foster, who moderated the panel, later tweeted: Live, fail, thrive.

Thanks to the organizers iStrategyLabs and Shinyheart for this event.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Women Deliver: Five things done right

The Millennium Development Goal #5 is to reduce maternal mortality and achieve universal access to reproductive health. Each year hundreds of thousands of women die from preventable deaths related to pregnancy. Women Deliver was established to help end maternal death. Its message is that maternal health is a human right and critical to sustainable development.

The Women Deliver 2010 conference in DC ends tomorrow. Here are five things I like about their online advocacy efforts.

1. Inform The website has facts, figures, and links to background information about family planning, HIV, or maternal health in general. The site offers downloadable fact sheets and publications.
2. List next steps Once informed, people may want to take action. Individuals, governments, civil society organizations, and the media can make a difference. Women Deliver tells you how.
3. Give something Free widget to add to your site. You could get the full library, or select a specific video.

Watch live streaming video from womendeliver at

4. Socialize Links to YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook appear at the top of every page. The Twitter feed for the conference shows up next to the webcast.

5. Use good design I saved this one for the end because it probably cost the most. This site was done by Aardvark Brigade.

Women Deliver has delivered on the message and the execution. The conference has got the attention of many, including Melinda Gates. She chose the occasion to announce a $1.5 billion investment in maternal health. That should help toward achieving the Millennium Development Goal #5 by 2015.