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October 12, 2004 » 2:37 am

E-Advocacy Brown Bag Discussion

Emy Tseng invited me and about 10 others to join her at the Community Technology Foundation in San Francisco for a brown bag discussion of e-advocacy, especially relating to underserved communities. The folks I meet through Emy are always interesting, and I especially appreciated the ethnic diversity of those attending this meeting. I don’t get too caught up with race when it comes to my work, but I’m definitely conscious of the fact that most of the folks in this space are white men.    (2FS)

Some quick takeaways and thoughts:    (2FT)

  • Advocacy tools need better multilingual support. It’s not enough to localize tools; you also have to make them usable.    (2FU)
  • There’s certainly a lot of room for folks in the e-advocacy space to collaborate. But the real problem is not choosing tools, but knowing what online capabilities exist and how they can be integrated into an overall advocacy strategy.    (2FV)
  • Many small to midsize nonprofits struggle simply to keep their computers running and their email working. Transitioning to using more sophisticated tools is a big, big step.    (2FW)
  • Some people brought up issues regarding in-fighting within coalitions over who owns or controls mailing lists. Identity Commons offers an interesting technical solution to this problem, in that it gives control to the individual.    (2FX)
  • Several folks talked about the need for techies to avoid jargon and speak in a language these organizations understand. I disagree. Shared Language is not one over the other; it’s different communities developing Shared Understanding. There’s no one-to-one translation between technical and nontechnical concepts. Techies have to work to understand users, but users also have to work to understand technology. Only then does Shared Language emerge and coevolution becomes possible.    (2FY)

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