Posted on December 12th, 2013 by craigconnects
Folks, a while back my team and I created a list of the Top 10 Women in Tech Orgs and I'm following up with some of the suggestions that have been sent in. I checked out all of the orgs that people commented about, and appreciate the great women in tech organizations that are really getting the job done.
Here are 5 more women in tech orgs that you should know about:
App Camp For Girls teaches girls how to brainstorm, design, build and pitch iPhone apps. It's a place where girls can put their creative power to work, concepting and building apps, while learning more about the business of software and being inspired by women who are professional software developers. The org is planning to expand beyond Portland, Oregon, in Summer 2014, and are recruiting organizers now.
Women Tech Council provides mentoring, visibility and networking for women. The community is built for women who currently work for technology companies, and for those that may work in technology roles in other market sectors. Women Tech Council provides leadership, resources, and mentoring for women while maintaining a strong bond with the business community supporting avenues for top technology talent and visible sponsorship opportunities. They support women-owned and women-operated technology companies, and pride themselves on recognizing women leaders and entrepreneurs in the technology business and supporting them.
Dames Making Games is a nonprofit, educational feminist organization dedicated to supporting Dames interested in creating games. They welcome all people of any gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, race, religion, ability, nationality, socioeconomic status, and immigrant status as members. Their goals are to:
- Demonstrate the value of diversity in a broad range of disciplines related to games
- Highlight the achievements of diverse Toronto-based gamemakers
- Provide a community and venue for dames to confidently explore playing, discussing, and creating games
Women in Wireless is a great community of visionary mobilists. The org empowers and develops female leaders in mobile and digital media. They do this through inspirational panels and webinars, leadership development, mentoring, and networking.
Women's Coding Collective began with the merging of Web Start Women and their counterpart Codagogy. Web Start Women's mission was to encourage women entrepreneurs in the local community to learn tech skills that would further their businesses. Then they built Codagogy to make web programming education accessible to women anywhere and everywhere. These initiatives grew and developed so that a new name was needed to encompass all that they had become, hence the Women's Coding Collective (WCC). The WCC is an even stronger, more focused web development community for women coders and creators.
Any other orgs you think I should be looking at? Thanks!
Posted on December 10th, 2013 by Craig Newmark
Much of the business of Washington is based on getting info around, much of the good news has not been reported, and I'd like to get the word out to make things better. This is the short, oversimplified version, based on 37 years of direct observation in both private and public sectors.
This is mostly about doing software based on actually listening to people and then acting on feedback, with a focus on the "ground truth" and what we can learn from that.
I think it was 1969 when some guys at Bell Labs started inventing something called Unix. It was a simple, very effective operating system, which could be ported to most any computer, since the source code could be checked out by outsiders, then adapted. It was in the spirit of what we now call "open source," but the code was AT&T proprietary, limiting its use. Key to its effectiveness was that it was built in modest increments, by people who'd use it, both at Bell Labs and at the universities and labs who built Internet tech.
Note those elements: Built with real humility, talking to people, piece by piece.
Back then, software was most often developed starting with requirements or specifications docs. These were written by managers or people in marketing, the popular kids, who didn't so much as talk to the people who'd run the software.
Once the docs were written, they tossed it to the people who'd write the code.
If the software actually got developed, it would frequently be late, over budget, and sometimes bought by no one except people who had to. (That's like a lot of Federal software projects.)
In Washington, this is called the "waterfall" approach, since the docs are kind of tossed over some barrier which limits the ability of coders to talk to people, and which meant the software was frequently built as a big, complex monolith.
I saw this approach used to develop the first operating system for the IBM Series/1 minicomputer, great hardware, in the late seventies. Whenever I asked why the software was so hard to use, I was explicitly told by the developers that usability wasn't a requirement. (I'm not making this up.)
Bell Labs asked us about porting Unix to the S/1, and my recommendation is that we could do better, but why fix what's not broken?
Turns out that a modest, maverick effort at IBM Research resulted in S/1 Event Driven Executive, which I feel was much better than the official product. For the matter, two versions of Unix were built for the S/1, both too late.Otherwise, the history of the whole industry could be different.
Years later, Linus Torvalds figured that Unix was pretty good but too proprietary, so he started building what's now called Linux. It's pretty much a Unix clone, but it's open source in the sense that anyone can build stuff on it.
(Special props to Linus, who initiated this global, grassroots effort. Linus, like Jimmy Wales and Craig Newmark, is not an Internet Billionaire.)
That worked in a really big way, and much of the world runs on Linux, not only servers but our phones. Specifically, the Android operating system is a tight version of Linux, and it runs on hundreds of millions of phones. Even though developed in a large corporate environment, Google, it's a pretty modest effort, based on what people need, rather than the imagination of the popular kids.
For the most part, government software is done using the waterfall approach, in isolation from the people who'd use it, even as much of private industry has moved on. However, there have been efforts which go against that grain.
Long ago, clinicians at the Department of Veterans Affairs realized they needed a really good health records system. Without permission, they built something called VistA, built by the people who use it, ground up. It's perhaps one of the largest, and most effective health records systems around. No waterfall requirements, just a very modest approach.
Now, Veterans Affairs got the Veterans Benefits Management System, VBMS, just in recent months. It hasn't been reported, but the piles of paper you see at VA offices has been disappearing dramatically after they were scanned in. Vets' claims are just starting to get processed this way, and it looks good so far. We need to get Vets Service Orgs like the American Legion, Vets of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Vets directly involved, via the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal, or vendor software via Digits to Digits.
VBMS development involved a lot of waterfall stuff, but much more recently, VA people are actually directly listening to people on that and acting on that. If vets, VSOs, or VA workers find a problem or have a suggestion, they contact contact actual humans to get stuff done.
Terminology: the antithesis of the waterfall approach is usually called "agile software development." I'm not very smart, and the version of it that I've practiced is this:
- listen to people
- do stuff based on that
Please permit me to call that "agile"; seriously, I'm kinda simple-minded, that works for me.
(Seriously, people can contact for specifics. I'll act in my capacity as the official VA "nerd-in-residence", hold me to that. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
So, here's the deal:
- small, modest efforts by programmers get stuff done, they can ask for forgiveness later.
- listen to the people who use the system.
- even systems started by the waterfall approach can become much more agile, with commitment from the boss.
- open source approaches get stuff done, often a lot better than proprietary approaches. Can cost less, get done faster, possibly more reliable and secure.
Programmers who get stuff done this way, well, we're nerds. The alternative to the Federal government's waterfall approach to software development? Get the popular kids, for the most part, out of the way, and let the nerds get stuff done.
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Posted on December 3rd, 2013 by craigconnects
Hey, #GivingTuesday is the real deal, and I'm happy to be able to participate in it. #GivingTuesday's a global event that inspires people to give to causes they're most passionate about.
My gut tells me this is really good, #GivingTuesday has gotten what sounds like real traction, with 10k partners in all 50 states and beyond (according to Henry Timms, the guy who's made the whole event happen, from 92nd street Y in NYC). #GivingTuesday is the story of thousands of organizations coming together around philanthropy, volunteerism, advocacy, and education.
This year, I'll be giving to IAVA, Casa de las Madres, a local women's shelter, and Poynter. I'm also giving $70k to the CrowdRise #HolidayChallenge that lots of nonprofits are participating in.
Here are 5 ways that you can participate in #GivingTuesday:
- Give to your favorite team over on CrowdRise's #HolidayChallenge.
- Post an "unselfie" – to do this, you'll need to post a photo of yourself with a piece of paper in front of you face that says how you'll be giving back on #GivingTuesday. You can share this across social networks using the hashtags, #Unselfie and #GivingTuesday.
- Check out Great Nonprofits' #GivingTuesday guide. There are great tips and tricks for raising and giving money for your cause.
- Remind others the importance of giving, especially after days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- Even if you can't give money, remember that you can give your time and your passion. #GivingTuesday is all about coming together for what we believe in.
What's your story, and how will you give today?
Posted on November 29th, 2013 by craigconnects
I'm frequently asked by good orgs that I support to share their work, and sometimes they ask me the best way to track the engagement that's occurred. I've compiled a list of some free tracking tools that can really benefit you personally, or that can help out your org. These could be especially useful with all of the end-of-year campaigns coming up (including the CrowdRise Holiday Challenge that I'm helping to fund).
5 Free Tracking Tools to Help You Out:
1. bitly – bitly is a great way for you to shorten links and then track their click through rates. If you sign up for an account, you can store all of the links that you've shortened, and then track how well the link is performing with your audience. It's possible to shorten links without signing up for an account, but if you get a free account, you'll be able to access historical data.
Just click "view stats" and you'll have insight into:
- How many times the link has been clicked;
- The percentage of clicks;
- The number of bitly links that have been created from your original URL, and who created them (if the person has a public account);
- The date that the link was clicked, and an hourly breakdown;
- What social media platforms the bitly was shared on;
- Where the link was shared geographically, and where the most clicks were coming from;
2. Topsy – Topsy allows you to analyze conversations in realtime, and provides instant social insight. You can analyze any topic, term, or hashtag.
Once you conduct your search, you'll have access to a few different stats:
- All web mentions of your term, topic, or hashtag – or you can specify that Topsy just shows you links, Tweets, photos, videos, or influencers that relate to your search;
- You can sort by language;
- You can sort by relevance, newest, or oldest;
- You are able to view the Tweets per day that mention your search, and from there you can view top Tweets;
- Topsy reveals how many Tweets mention your search over the past 15 days, and it provides a Topsy sentiment score;
- You can chart replies to your Twitter handle and view when the most people are responding, and what they're saying;
3. Twubs – If you plan on hosting a tweetchat or having a hashtag livestream at an event, Twubs allows you to register a hashtag. Once you register the hashtag, you can update event details or hashtag details and create a page for your particular hashtag. Once the page is setup, you can set up a main account (i.e. your org's Twitter handle) for the hashtag that will show up in a different, prime stream.
Other features include:
- Scheduling Twitter Chats that will show up in Twub's global calendar;
- Adding additional hashtags to stream on your main hashtag page;
- Customizing your hashtag page to match your branding;
- Watching the livestream of your Tweets as people use your hashtag;
- Adding websites that may be relevant to your hashtag;
- Allowing other folks to be admins for your particular Twubs hashtag;
- Blocking trolls and spammers (don't feed the trolls!), as well as blocking words that you don't want included in the stream;
- A moderated fullscreen feed module that allows you to control a customizable fullscreen display of Tweets that you can project anywhere;
4. Twitter Counter – Twitter Counter is a really good site to track your Twitter stats.
The free version will track:
- How many followers you have and how many you are following;
- Your increase of followers over a period of time (you can choose the time period);
- Comparisons between you and your competitors or partners;
- Increases or decreases in followers, Tweets, and folks you are following from the previous day;
- Your daily average follows, tweets, and following;
5. socialmention* – Similar to Topsy, socialmention* allows for real-time social media searches and analysis, but has more filters for types of medium . The site will show you trends underneath the search bar if you're interested in perusing, or you can type in your own trend that you want to search. For example, if you want to type in keywords from a blog post you published last week, or the name of your org, you'll get a variety of results.
Results will show you:
- socialmention*'s perceived sentiment of the keyword or phrase you typed in;
- The last time the search phrase was mentioned;
- A list of top related keywords;
- The top users who have mentioned the search phrase;
- How many unique authors are talking about it;
- The top related hashtags;
- The sources from which the results were pulled;
What tools have you found to be useful, folks?