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Blogger Corps
Jon Lebkowsky, 16 Nov 04

Former CNN journalist turned blogger Rebecca MacKinnon blogged yesterday about an idea that occurred to her during Bloggercon III:

we need to think more about how blogging tools and the blogging process can be used by the non-profit and activist community - not only in the U.S. but around the world. This is not merely a matter of blog-evangelizing to the uninitiated. It's also about adapting blog tools and blogging techniques to the needs of people who want to go beyond online conversations to real-world action. For early blog-adopters, blogging was an end in itself. For the activist community, blogging has to be an effective means to a concrete end.

In the final wrap-up session of Bloggercon III, I suggested that socially conscious members of the blogging community (of all political persuasions) might want to organize a "Blogger Corps." Through it, bloggers could donate their time to help poorly funded activists or non-profit groups to figure out what blogging tools are right for them, set up blogs, and develop effective blogging strategies.

Rebecca's soliciting ideas for making this happen in the comments section of her blog, and there's an email list for discussion, blogcorps at To subscribe, send a blank email to blogcorps-subscribe at In his comment, non-blogger Jon Garfunkel suggests other technologies, not just blogs:

The trouble with blogs being that they are too easy to set up... organizations should consider a more manageable community information structure that's not bound to the blog concept, like the Civ. Civ's can handle the "me too" posts...

"The Civ" he's referring to is his own concept, and his site Civilities is the prototype.

Sean Bonner and Jonas Luster had been talking about a similar concept, Bloggers without Borders. Aldon Hynes points to a blogger coalition called Strengthen the Good, described by its tagline: "Using the power of weblogs for open-source charity. Don't just fight evil: Strengthen the good." My friend and fellow Austinite Sarah Looney posts a pointer to, a project of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, sponsored by Gary Chapman and Lodis Rhodes, who have incorporated social technology and community informatics as part of their curriculum.

Finally, there's an organization called Aspiration formed specifically "to connect nonprofit organizations with software solutions that help them better carry out their work." Aspiration works with nonprofit-focused technology stakeholders: the nonprofits themselves, developers, tech support organizations and funding sources, facilitating their collaboration. I've been in several conversations with Allen Gunn and Katrin Verclas over the last month; they're part of the loose Activist Technology collaborative that formed while the Dean campaign was still active. Katrin posted on the Omidyar Network that Aspiration is part of the Blogger Corps discussion.

Activist and community-focused technologies are exploding, and the various projects and sites I've mentioned here are just a tip of the iceberg. We could have whole longer discussions about tools like Civicspace and Advokit that have emerged during this presidential campaign and the impact they'll have on campaigns to follow, and we could say a lot about the role of social technology in developing nations. We're just getting started.

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Don't forget BeneTech, ApproTec, and similar organizations around the world that have been using online resources to promote global change at the grassroots for many years.

Only after I started exploring the network of online facilitators did I discover how large and well-developed it is -- surprising only because of our collective ignorance.

These folks don't make the rubber-chicken conference circuit, don't get noted by the digirati in the blogosphere, and aren't featured in the Next-Big-Thing press. They're too busy making change. But they can still use our technical and financial support.

Posted by: Bob Jacobson on 16 Nov 04

Excellent info and links, all. Thanks.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 16 Nov 04

We've written about both groups before, Bob, so they are noticed in at least this corner of the blogosphere...

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 16 Nov 04

Right... specific links are



Thanks, Bob!

Posted by: Jon Lebkowsky on 17 Nov 04



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