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7 ways to get involved in tech right now

The best way to get stuff done is to get involved, and to connect those who already have their boots on the ground.

Summer is almost  here, and it's a really good time to get involved. My team and I have compiled a list of ways you can get involved in tech.

tech

Ways to get more involved in tech:

  1. Either join a Girls Who Code club in your area, or start one if there's not one already. Girls Who Code partners with school networks, community based orgs, libraries, faith-based centers, labor unions, and tech companies to bring Girls Who Code Clubs to communities all across the country.You can start a club if you’re a girl, parent, teacher, school or community leader, or anyone else who wants to bring computer science ed to your community.
  2. Get a ticket to the NonProfit 2.0 Unconference in DC. I'll be keynoting with Majora Carter, and will be talking about grassroots organizing from the bottom up. The Unconference is only $45 on June 26, and you can use the code nptech for 10% off.
  3. Host a screening of the Black Girls CODE documentary in your community.  Black Girls CODE's more than a program, it's a movement. The film tells of the movement, created by San Francisco-based computer programming pioneer Kimberly Bryant, to expose young black girls to the world of computer programming and all the possibilities that they can achieve.
  4. Visit a hackerspace. Hackerspaces are community-operated physical places, where folks can get together and work on their projects.
  5. If you're a DIYer, stay up all night trying to install linux on your laptop, or take your laptop apart and put it back together. Perhaps, make a social network in your dorm room.
  6. Get involved in an open source community as a tester. You can find Drupal's community here, and you're able to find out more about how to contribute to WordPress here.
  7. Get involved with Code for America in your city. Their philosophy's that citizens have the power to help their cities.

What would you suggest folks do to get involved in the tech space? What motivated you to get involved? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear your story.

Tips to Drown out the Twitter Noise

Folks, this has become a big issue on Twitter –  how do you get to the real good stuff on your Twitter feed? Where are the tweets from your community? And how do you make an effort to use Twitter most effectively for you and your organization? My team and I compiled a list of tips to drown out the Twitter noise so you can easily access the most useful content and conversations.bird

  • Use hashtags - Hashtags are still really useful. People and orgs will tag their content based on the topic, and this lets you find the latest trends or the niche content that interests you. For example, nonprofit tech related tweets tend to use the hashtag, #nptech, progressive groups use #p2 and #activism, feminists tend to use #fem2, and other good hashtags include #gov20, #vets, #milfams, #philanthropy, and #socent (social entrepreneurship).
  • Keep an eye on #FF - When tweeters that're the real deal post a Follow Friday (#FF), they're carefully selecting people who are the real deal. This is an effective way to find "friends of friends" in the Twittersphere.
  • Don't be afraid to unfollow tweeters - If you follow someone and realize that their tweets just don't interest you, don't hesitate to unfollow them. It's not rude, it's efficient.
  • The mute button - Twitter just rolled out a new mute button yesterday, and everyone will have it soon. The point of the button is to silence people you don't want to unfollow, but are tired of seeing their tweets in your feed like if they are live tweeting a conference for several hours. According to Twitter:
      • To mute a user from a Tweet, tap more and then mute @username. To mute someone from their profile page, tap the gear icon on the page and choose mute @username.
      • The muted user will not know you’ve muted them, and of course you can unmute at any time.
      • The muted user will still be able to favorite, reply to, and retweet your Tweets; you just won’t see any of that activity in your timeline.
  • Build lists on Twitter - You can organize your Twitter followers into different lists. If you're into tech, for example, you can have a tech list where you group all the techie folks, if you are following people who tweet about journalism ethics, you can make a list for them. Once you have a list, you can click on it and just see a stream of users' tweets who you've assigned to that list. To manage your lists, go to your Twitter dashboard, click "More" then "Lists" and you'll be taken to a page that lets you do everything Twitter List related. (See image below for more…)
  • Subscribe to lists on Twitter - Other people have already done a lot of the work for you by creating their own lists. You can seek out lists that interest you, and subscribe to them. This will help you to further involve yourself in the Twitter community, and is a good way of finding others who tweet about your interests without much effort.

Craig Twitter Dash

What tricks do you use to manage your Twitter account and drown out all the extra noise?

Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference is back for social change

Folks, the Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference is back, and I'm keynoting this year alongside Majora Carter, who's the real deal. Nonprofit 2.0 is DC's only Unconference dedicated to the social cause space.

Here's some info about the conference according to co-founder, Allyson Kapin, who also happens to be part of the craigconnects team:

"Nonprofit 2.0's more than just a conference on the next generation web. It’s a next generation conference in format. Have you ever gone to a conference just for a keynote, but the workshops weren't up to par? Nonprofit 2.0 delivers the best of keynotes and workshops, offering keynotes led by innovative nonprofit campaigners, thought leaders, and strategists in the space, but in an unconference way, with no PowerPoints, 15 minute leads, and open questions and dialogue to give a voice to everyone."

Following the keynote sessions, Nonprofit 2.0 shifts into a full-on Unconference with workshops facilitated by DC’s brightest minds strategizing for social change.

Untitled

What's an Unconference? Well, you start with a blank wall and, in less than an hour, with a facilitator guiding the process attendees create a full day, multi-track conference agenda that is relevant and inspiring to everyone in the room. All are welcome to put forward presentations or propose conversations that you'd like to have with others and:

  • questions you want answered;
  • information you want to share/present;
  • a project you would like help on;

As people register, the conference organizers will be posting proposed topics on their blog.

Last year's event sold out pretty early, so get your tickets now, if you're able, and don't miss out.  You can use comp code nptech for 10% off registration fees.

As I mentioned, I'll be keynoting this year with Majora Carter, one of the biggest activists and disruptors tackling urban revitalization in communities that are often ignored. The smart Craig Newmark will be talking about the non-traditional business philosophy of "doing well by doing good," and my belief in the advantage of “bottom-up” grassroots action.

I've heard that Majora will discuss her journey, message, and vision to revitalize communities that are forgotten. Her TED talk on Greening the Ghetto is the important stuff.

Join us on June 26thth at SEIU for what promises to be a 4th sold out unconference. Folks, this is the real deal, and tickets are just $45. Plus, I can get you 10% off with the comp code nptech. It's not altruism, it just feels right.

And, please note that any net proceeds will be donated to a local charity.

 

A Transitioning Veteran’s Biggest Challenge

DMG PhotoWhile transitioning out of the military, the greatest challenge I faced is one that many Veteran organizations don’t attempt to solve. I wasn’t wounded and I don’t suffer from psychological burdens with PTSD that keep me from chasing success, as these challenges far surpass the ones I’ve experienced.

What I’m referring to, something that I believe applies to all Veterans, was my lack of understanding about the differences between military and civilian career progression. 

Military job fairs, translating Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) to civilian skills on resumes, interview training, and other mechanisms for helping Veterans transition are valuable services that combat challenges during transition.

However, while in the military I followed a rigid career path as I was promoted to higher rank. Roughly every few years, the group responsible for career progression in my unit gave me limited options to choose from for my next military job. There were many mentors available to me who had followed a similar path to make it easier for me to make an informed decision.

If I worked hard at obtaining a specific job that was on my list of options, I could increase my likelihood of getting it.  Yet, if I did no extra work to get my next military job, the military would still give me one.

I found a very different scenario in civilian life. I was fundamentally unaware of the tactical actions I had to take to succeed, which proved overwhelming and frustrating after my career in the military. I was lucky to overcome this and find what I love to do, but am concerned that many of my fellow Veterans are not so lucky.

While leaving active duty, I often heard ex-military folks suggesting a common set of options for my post-military life: government agencies, defense contractors, medical device sales, getting that next level academic degree. I’m sure many Veterans hear the same advice, and treat those options as if they are the only ones available, falling into old habits from how they found their previous jobs in the military.

mil jobfair

But those options didn’t fit my ambitions. I realized that my true list of options was limitless, yet I didn’t have that person assigned to me to ensure I ended up in a position that suited my skills; nobody standing by to mentor me as I made a decision that would impact my family and me for the rest of our lives.

I found two key skills most valuable to help overcome this transitional challenge:

1) Networking to find mentors – Because no one was assigned to give me a job, I learned that networking was key for civilian employment. Finding a “wingman” to go with me to networking events (where I felt awkward and uncomfortable otherwise) to introduce me to his/her network was enormously helpful.

Organizations that help connect you to like-minded folks in specific civilian industries, such as Vets In Tech and Get Skills To Work, are great places to start searching for these live events and mentors.

Online social networking tools allowed me to research people who had the job I thought I wanted, and I was able to use those tools to get to more of those people than I ever expected. RockTech’s platform (tailored with content for Veterans in partnership with General Electric) can help Veterans looking to get more from LinkedIn.

The marriage of online and offline tools was overwhelmingly useful.

2) Selling my plan to my new mentors while seeking candid feedback – You never really have to sell anything in the military, especially not yourself.  You have to earn badges and ribbons, make rank, and score well on evaluations, but you rarely have to verbally sell yourself as you do in civilian life to get your next role. This concept is inconsistent with the humble professionals we are taught to be while in uniform.

Additionally, when you present your battle plan, the military teaches you to deliver it with confidence and a command presence that leaves no question in your conviction for executing that plan.

You can’t tell your troops to take a hill and then say “… er, um, unless you guys have a better idea?” Because many veterans join the service early in life, often while still teenagers, we often don’t know where to start crafting our civilian battle plan and just aren’t qualified to speak with such confidence.

We need to make a plan and ask for candid feedback from mentors who have experience to help confirm or deny whether our plan makes sense. An extra challenge here is that many civilians handle Veterans “gently”, out of respect for their service, often being too nice to provide candid feedback.

If you fall into this category as a mentor to a Veteran, realize that this Service member has likely weathered much worse than a verbal disagreement. You’re doing them a disservice if you don’t provide constructive criticism to help them shape their career.

If you know of resources for Veterans to use in their transition for these or other skills, please share them in the comment section.

Smart words about journalism from danah boyd

danah

 

 

danah's the bravest and most effective writer on matters like keeping kids safe on the Internet, getting the facts out in areas where people tend to make stuff up.

Her post on Medium might articulate a lot about journalism, both from a journalism and a news consumer perspective. You can read it here.

She gets to the point, writing simply and effectively.

"… since when did the practice of journalism allow for uncritically making shit up? ::shaking head:: Where’s the fine line between poor journalism and fabrication?"

Also, check out her new book, It's Complicated

(Note to self: this also reminds me that I don't write so good.)