Facebook: Pay up or Shut Up aka Back to the Blog Again

I’ve been thinking about how Facebook’s new “rules” or algorithm(s) have changed the reach of organic social media. (Translation: You can’t just get 10,000 friends and expect ALL of them to see your post.) Especially for small causes and nonprofits.

Right now I recommend y’all post everything to your blog THEN Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Use a blog, like WordPress, to automate the posting to social media. Try to write your content in a way that it seems natural on all platforms.

Why? Because Facebook is putting the squeeze on those without financial resources. If you can’t pay up people won’t hear you. It’s another form of anti-Net Neutrality. Also known in 20th Century parlance as ‘PAY TO PLAY’. By putting YOUR content on YOUR blog you can decide where it goes and hopefully pay a lot less. Because in a year or two Facebook could price us out and be worthless to grassroot orgs.

I wouldn’t sling the hyperbole about Facebook if I thought they didn’t bait and switch. It’s true Facebook provides a great service. One that is worth paying for. But to get 1 Billion plus people to use it then slowly turn up the heat on those without money is ruthless. Facebook needs to solve this problem by providing free unlimited reach accounts to real 501c3 organizations.

Community Funded Reporting

This week Ruby and I went to two conferences in Minneapolis. The first one done in Open Space / Unconference style was New Pamphleteers/New Reporters:Convening Entrepreneurs Who Combine Journalism, Democracy, Place and Blogs at the University of Minnesota. (What a long name huh?)

One of the best ideas I heard this week was Spot.us.

“Spot Us” is a nonprofit that allows an individual or group to take control of news in their community by sharing the cost (crowdfunding) to commission freelance journalists to write important, or uncovered news stories.

Dave Cohn is behind this idea and he explained it to us via Skype. I was amazed at how few people where in this mini-session. Because it feels like a real innovation that could answer the burning question on every corporate journalist and CEOs mind, “How do we make money making journalism so we can get it done?”.

But the big difference between this idea, as I see it, and how media CEOs do is that this is about direct funding to individual journalist not organizations or corporations. Yet another middle man removed from the process of making media and protecting our democracy. But I don’t think the corporate media folks at this conference had thought about this that much. There were just too many competing sessions. Their loss.

I’ll be paying close attention to how Spot.us progresses. Dave plans to roll this service out to the Bay Area first then other communities one at a time. Sounds like a good plan. It worked for Graig’s List.

Local governments withhold public access TV funds

Local governments withhold public access TV funds. Get the story from this Independent Weekly blog post by Fiona Morgan called Legislature to consider future of public TV channels.

Both Chapel Hill and Orange County received money for Chapel Hill channel 8, on which The People’s Channel broadcasts.

Yet neither government has passed that money on to The People’s Channel. The law says local governments must spend the supplemental money on PEG channels, but it doesn’t specify which channels.

Chapel Hill spokesperson Catherine Lazorko says the town manager and town council have yet to decide how to distribute PEG funding. Chapel Hill operates its own government channel, 18, which broadcasts public meetings.

Orange County, which certified a total of three PEG channels, decided to spend all $29,400 of its supplemental PEG funding on its own government channel, 265, which broadcasts county commissioners meetings. The annual budget for Channel 265 is approximately $40,000.

There is also some discussion going on about it on Orange Politics. You’ll find my passionate comments there. Here is one.

I am very disappointed in the position Town of Chapel Hill Staff and Orange County Staff have taken in this situation. As Fiona’s article pointed out the law governing the funds distributed by the state is up to interpretation. But for the County Assistant Manager and Manager to hide behind a legal opinion that they support to retain funds purposely earmarked by the State for a local non-profit is disgusting!

I wish this were a case of unemotional bean counting in a disconnected bureaucracy. But it just doesn’t seem so. I look forward to more information coming to light on the attitude our public servants have had when dealing with our fellow citizens. If they treated other nonprofits with more loud public voices this way I think Council, Commissioners, and citizens would be publicly outraged.

Please consider donating to The Peoples’ Channel, taking a course to learn how to shoot and edit your own video at TPC, and asking your local representatives WHY our Staff members act this way.

To get a bit more background on the situation here is a PDF that describes PEG (Public Access Television) Funding.

Orange Networking is a real 501c3

Last night I opened an envelope from the IRS. In it was Orange Networking’s acceptance letter giving the organization official tax exempt status. Orange Networking is now a real 501(c)(3) organization! YEAH!

Orange Networking (ON) is a non-profit organization working to foster equal access to the Internet so that all people may benefit from the use of digital communication tools. ON shall provide support to people who live or work in Orange County, North Carolina in the use of open, safe, and accessible computer networks.

Help Teach Someone to Read or get their GED

Might you be interested in helping someone learn how to read? If so please contact Yashna Padamsee at the Durham Literacy Center ASAP. yashna (at) durhamliteracy (dot) org More info bellow.

I worked in AmeriCorp for one year at the Durham Literacy Center. Its a serious organization that’s been working very hard teaching people for over 20 years. Helping someone increase their reading literacy can have a dramatic effect on the quality of their lives. If you want to see the world change for the better this is a great place to start!

Please blog about this if you live in the Triangle Area.
Thank you.

From Yashna:
Do you want to be a tutor with DLC?

Why you would
To make a difference in your community!
Empower an adult through reading, teach an adult English, help a teen get his or her GED.

Here is how!

1. Attend a one hour volunteer orientation

When: 2.26.08 6-7pm OR 2.28.07 6-7pm

Where: Lakewood Baptist Church/ Education Building
2100 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, NC
Google Map

How: Call or email to sign up OR just show up!

2. Sign up for tutor training (TT) at the orientation
NOTE: *If you missed the orientations please call in you want to register for TT

3. Attend tutor training
(required to attend all three dates)

Monday March 5, 2007 6-9pm

Wednesday March 7, 2007 6-9pm

Saturday March 10, 2007 9am – 3pm

4. Get started with a student.
Work one on one with an adult student twice a week to help improve their reading and writing skills.

Looking forward to working with you!

phone: 919 489 8383 ext 27
fax: 919 489 1456


Check out Change.org

Non-profit techies have been dreaming of ways to use new web 2.0 stuff to help good causes. We’re always suggesting people use Digg, Facebook, De.licio.us, Flickr, and YouTube for positive social change work. Problem is they are all separate services with communities that aren’t focused on non-profit missions. What would happen if we mashed all these functionalities together and got non-profit people involved? Enter Change.org. Now we have such as site. Check out the Orange Networking page I created.