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Network-Centric Thinking and NGOs
Alex Steffen, 25 Aug 04

Jed Miller and Rob Stuart have written an interesting piece for the Planetwork Journal, Network-Centric Thinking: The Internet's Challenge to Ego-Centric Institutions, which centers on the question "How can groups open themselves to the kinds of transactionally-based activities that thrive in the age of networks?"

This is a pretty key question for NGOs these days, one which many people have begun to wrestle with. From a suporter's point of view, connecting with a campaign working on precisely the issue you care about from exactly the perspective you share is now only a Google search and a few mouse-clicks away. That means that if you care about, say, helping women in Africa gain access to reproductive health services, there's now no need to be a member of a big international NGO (or BINGO): you can directly support something like, say, Africa Action's Right to Health Campaign.

Now, I know nothing about Africa Action. I'd never heard to them before I Googled the words "Africa," "reproductive health," "women," and "campaign." But they seem legit, they seem focused, they have an online donation button. If this were the issue I felt most passionately about, they'd probably have my $100 right now.

What this means to larger, more established groups is that they need to begin thinking about how to compete for my Google-driven paypal dollars. That's going to take some major changes.

For more on this topic, I highly recommend the blog Network-Centric Advocacy

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