Yesterday I saw the Front Line (PBS) documentary that covered Kiva whose approach to economic development is to use a website to match first world individuals as lenders with third world entrepreneurs who need micro-credit (aka small loans, ex. $500).
It would be far better if we could match first world donors with third world social change organizations. So people would donate the money instead of loaning it (note: this might be a downside to participation as Kiva was claiming a zero default rate at the time of the Frontline documentary, so the people lending money weren't actually donating it). Also it'd be for social change, so a lot more rewarding than having someone running a successful fruit stand.
I'm working on optimizing the page load time for this website, particularly for the homepage, and am achieving great things!
Converting Dynamic Pages to Static
If this is possible, I highly recommend doing it. I converted 20 pages into static html, which is generated once per day (I kept the original copies of the pages in PHP so that people who install this software can automatically customize them -- though on second thought, that wasn't completely necessary).
Conditional Use of Caching
While I cannot always use a cached version of the homepage, since someone migth log-in,
Young People For (is that name proper grammer?) is an interesting organization in the field of student activism, by which I mean they are well-funded and thus powerful.
They have an insightful breakdown of
who is in their network
The states they chose look random to me, other than perhaps they are going for larger states.
The good thing is that they are going for continuity - hopefully that will help campuses with turnover which is one of the main difficulties that student activists face.
Yesterday I read Activism Inc. I strongly recommend reading it. It's insightful and short. The thesis I got from it was that thousands of progressive-minded young people are joining canvassing operations, lasting an average of several days, and burning-out.
These young people could be forming the backbone of social movement organizations, however instead they burn out and find non-activist jobs (like being teachers).
The book argued that conservatives are succeeding in placing young people into conservative organizations, however the left is failing.
I'd be very interested to read a book on what the conservatives have done that works so well for them. I suspect part of the answer is that they may have larger sums of money that can create more organizations and better-paid positions (whereas canvassing jobs in particular, and other leftist jobs are generally lower-paid).
A very creative approach that I didn't know was possible.
A small version of our web calendar on your site (Hudson Valley, ActivistResource.org)
The advantage of this approach is that you can call an external php script with parameters and include it in your site. It's like a type of web service.
The fact that CampusProgress.org recently chose to feature a pro-militarism article about US volunteers joining the Israeli army fits with its moderate version of student activism.
They let almost anyone write. But to feature an article requires an editorial decision. And to not just advocate Zionism (and support for a racist religious sectarian state) but to also advocate for the use of military force, and even in the wake of the disasterous attacks on Lebanon and Gaza -- makes you really wonder what kind of "progress" they stand for?
CampusActivism.org recently achieved a Google PageRank of 7. The site had been at 6 for a couple years, with a brief period where it dipped to 5.
This is particularly significant as PageRank is a logarithmic scale with an estimated base of around 6. So having a PR of 7 is six times better than a 6. On the other hand it could just be a tiny improvement, an increase from 6.49 to 6.51 would show up as a move from 6 to 7.
I suspected that my PR of 6 was a high "6" and might one day reach 7. The website was increasing its traffic and the number of incoming links gradually, and its PR should grow accordingly.
Dot Organize just published a study of 400 social change organizations on how they use technology called:
Online Technology for Social Change: From Struggle to Strategy
Today I participated in an auction for the activism.org domain which ended with a final bid of $1300. Someone else won. In the last 5-10 minutes, it went from $500 to $1300. The auction was done at snapnames.com.
While online social networks are potentially useful for recruitment, they present a danger to activists by promoting bad strategy and ineffective forms of networking. By contrast a good social change network, such as Activism Network, will encourage strategic thinking and promote grassroots activism.
Good Uses for Online Social Networks
First, let us examine where online social networking ought to be most useful and see how it does.
I suspect online social networks are most useful for recruitment. This makes sense if they operate like off-line networks. It is clear from social movement research that the most critical factor to mobilize people to participate in social movements is a network (aka relational) tie to someone else involved. People are generally recruited by their friends or acquaintances. Even if you are recruited by a stranger, through additional participation in group events, one becomes acquainted with group members and this dramatically increases the likelihood of a cycle of continued participation.