Archives for the month of: August, 2010

I am delighted to announce that the Case Foundation has just released a new report that I wrote about a recent White House / Case Foundation conference. The report is called Promoting Innovation: Prizes, Challenges and Open Grantmaking. Here’s the Foundation’s description:

Promoting Innovation: Prizes, Challenges and Open Grantmaking

In spring 2010, the Case Foundation together with the White House Domestic Policy Council and the White House Office on Science and Technology Policy teamed up to host a daylong public-private strategy session focused on promoting innovation through the use of prizes, challenges and open grantmaking. . . . This report is a summary of the lessons, learnings and findings discussed at the conference, and highlights some of the shining examples of the power and pitfalls of crowdsourcing ideas and innovation.

Case Foundation CEO Jean Case wrote a blog post introducing the report, in which she says:

We’re proud today to release a new report as part of our “Case Studies” from the spring gathering, Promoting Innovation: Prizes, Challenges and Open Grantmaking, a daylong strategy session we co-hosted along with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Domestic Policy Council. This event brought together over 200 individuals representing more than 35 government agencies and 35 private sector and nonprofit organizations to discuss lessons and strategies from experiments in prizes, challenges and open grantmaking.

The Promoting Innovation report is meant for anyone who may have missed the conference, or wants to share some of the chief learnings with colleagues who weren’t able to attend.

The White House has posted a piece on the report, too, on the blog of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. That blog bost calls the meeting “groundbreaking” (it was) and points out the section of the report that contains five dos and don’ts of using prizes and challenges for leveraging resources and driving change.

I could not be more pleased about this report, and I am grateful to the Case Foundation and to the White House for making it possible.

Here’s a question I get asked often by organization managers considering getting more active in social media — Facebook in particular.

One best practice when it comes to Facebook Pages is to set the default setting so that visitors are looking at posts not only by the page owner but also by fans.

But: “What do we do when people start posting a whole bunch of stuff to our Wall?” asks the boss.

Excellent question. By and large, most organizations will get innocuous notes from fans. But for organizations with a cause that some may find controversial, or that are for some other reason possible targets of attention, may attract less desirable kinds of posts. What do you do? Just delete them from the Page? Engage?

New DC-local journalism startup (with which the local blog I co-lead, Rockville Central, is associated) is one such organization. It’s a news outlet. People are attracted to it, as a way of promoting their own causes or bringing up their own issues. is committed to engaging with audiences, though — and not hiding behind an organizational wall. How they are handling their Facebook Page is a good case example of a classy move.

Recently, someone who says they are a veteran (I believe it, but can’t verify) left numerous notes and posted document scans about spraying Agent Orange in Guam. It’s a serious issue, but the tone is also more intense than most organizations might want to get behind.

Rather than just delete the posts, Page admins wrote this:

Thanks for sharing the docs. We generally only cover local DC/VA/MD area news, but I made sure to copy down all your info here. I’m removing the repeat posts from the page, but keeping record.

Not only is the poster now more likely to be a friend and see as honest brokers — so are other people. Here’s a tangible demonstration of the commitment to two-way.

Here it is in situ:

Click for full size

Well done, guys.

News Cameras Very Interested

Over the weekend, I accompanied my son to Brickfair 2010 at the Dulles Expo Center. Brickfair is a completely fan-driven annual conference. People come together to share their love of Legos, to show of scenes and models they have built, and to swap bricks.

Daniel and his friend Jeremy had created a rock concert model, a show by a fictitious band called The Sharks. It was complete with a crowd surfer, light show, and a sound booth. I was proud to see it gathering lots of interest and some news cameras too.

The whole thing fascinated me, so I made this video while I was there:

As I mention in the video, Brickfair puts me in mind of Clay Shirky’s idea of cognitive surplus. It’s not exactly the same thing, but the basic thrust is similar.

More fundamentally, though, Brickfair (and the huge number of other fan-driven conferences across a variety of interests) are testament to the idea that people like to make and share. The Internet has made it easier to organize situations where people can get together and do that — and do it while they don’t happen to be together, too.

Here’s a closer shot of The Sharks:

The Sharks in concert! (Click for full size.)