craigconnects: Connecting the World for the Common Good

Craig's Blog

Why Birding Can Change the World

Birding is a popular thing that happens around the world. I like to view 'em from my home office, and in my Bay Area backyard. Western Tanagers are rare to see, but a real treat. You may remember that I donated some money to the Cornell Ornithology Lab to sponsor the Western Tanager. I spotted two on Saturday…

western tanager

(taken at limits of my telephoto lens)

The Global Big Day just happened, and the worldwide response has been pretty impressive. Cornell's goal was to tally 4,000 species around the world in one day—but now they're at 5,800 and heading toward 6,000—almost 60% of all the bird species in the world.

You can even watch the real-time results here. And check out the highlights over on the Cornell Lab's blog.


So far, more than 12,000 people representing 124 countries have sent in their Global Big Day checklists. Global Big Day's about appreciating birds, unique habitat, and diversity—as well as the way birds can bring together folks from all over the planet to protect birds.

Counting the two I saw, people recorded a total of 2,474 Western Tanagers on Saturday. If you're inspired, you can still to donate to celebrate this huge result and support bird conservation around the globe.


6 Startups Rocking the Women Startup Challenge

Hey, we’re two weeks into the Women Startup Challenge, and lots of startups really have their boots on the ground in Round One. The first Round of the Startup Challenge is a crowdfunding campaign. The purpose of this is to give all startups an opportunity to raise money for their startup.

Over $80K has been raised online so far, and there’s still a coupla weeks left. Another startup has told us that they raised an additional $50K offline through a funder who learned about their efforts through the Women Startup Challenge.

The first Bonus Challenge ended last week, and 3 startups won prizes: Queery and Mina's List won a Profile of their startup on craigconnects and Huffington Post (more to come…), and In the Stacks won a Social Media Audit from Rad Campaign.

WWT Read more on "6 Startups Rocking the Women Startup Challenge" »

How to Help Vets Get Jobs in Tech

We should do what we can to helps vets get jobs.

It's also good business, since about 12% of all unfilled US jobs are in IT, and Vets in Tech (ViT) helps get the job done.


ViT works with industry partners including Salesforce, Microsoft, Akamai,, and ManpowerGroup to get vets tech job training and placement.

For more, check this out

What’s Over the Horizon for Trustworthy News

Sometimes I say that "trust is the new black"; more recently, I like the notion that "a trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy."

However, it looks like news media has generally lost the trust of the American public:

This might have to do with major failures in mass news media:

  • Dean Starkman shows us that the press fully knew that the economy was a mess during the last decade, but never told the American public about it. (This appears to be an ongoing problem.)
  • There was a fake IRS scandal, where the press was alerted to the problem by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), but this received little or no coverage.
  • Six billion in cash was "lost" in Iraq, but the only real coverage was in Vanity Fair (I've asked, they tell me that article is fully fact checked).
  • There's what Jon Stewart calls the "CNN leaves it there" problem, where a news outlet knowingly airs clear-cut lying and then repeats it.
  • danah boyd gets to the point in "First: Do No Harm" when she asks,But 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? 


I'm only a news consumer, though people in the news business have shown me how the sausage is made, and I've seen a lot of ugly stuff. However, I'd like to focus on moving forward.

I've seen it in the form of the Trust Project with the additional suggestion by Jeff Jarvis.

The gist of this effort is to develop signals of trust for news outlets and individual articles. For example, a news outlet would commit to a serious code of ethics/trust and also diversity, and some means wherein the news outlet could be held accountable to that code.

In essence, an article would say "trust me" and back it up.

The ethics code work of the Society of Professional Journalists and that of the Online News Association are really good places to start.

So, the gist of the Trust Project is that:

  1. A news outlet promises to be trustworthy, indicating that via standard signals in publication.
  2. Articles from that outlet could be ranked higher, in places like Google News and the Facebook feed, than articles from sources that don't promise trustworthiness.

This is NOT about any news aggregator picking and choosing what's trustworthy; making such a claim would itself be untrustworthy.

Yes, this isn't easy, since a fake news outlet could claim to be trustworthy. We need some trusted network to test challenges to trustworthiness, maybe inspired by Wikipedia.

However, I've looked around, and I can't find any effort that provides any hope to get to a broadly trustworthy press.

Help us, folks, you're our only hope.


This post was originally published as part of a series commemorating The Huffington Post's 10 Year Anniversary through expert opinions looking forward to the next decade in their respective fields. To see all of the posts in the series, read here.

4 Twitter Tools That're the Real Deal



I tell folks that they should email me with social media posts to share with my networks because I believe in supporting good causes, and making an effort to give a voice to more people. Silos aren't effective in getting the job done, and social media's a great way to share your message.

My team and I test social networks and social media tools to see what's getting the job done, and here are 4 social media tools (that're free or pretty inexpensive) that might be worth checking out:

1. Twtpoll – Twtpoll is a social survey tool. You can use it for lots of different surveys. You can conduct hashtag surveys, where votes are sent via tweet using the hashtag. You can do simple polls, these are one-question surveys. You can choose to do multi-question surveys, or you can do a quiz, where you have a series of questions with correct answers.

twtpoll descrip

This one's not free, but it's just $7 per question. What would you poll your audience on?

2. Bluenod – Bluenod is a social graph that  gives you the global picture of any community related to a Twitter user or hashtag in map-form. You just enter a user or hashtag and can see a dynamic visualization of Twitter interactions. This tool allows you to filter based on  biggest influencers. You can even display the map on your site.


3. Topsy – Topsy's been called the Google of social media. It's a realtime search engine that indexes and ranks search results based upon the most influential conversations that folks are having every day about specific terms, topics, or pages. My team and I used Topsy to monitor the use of the hashtag #squirrels4good when we raised money for the National Wildlife Federation, for example. You can search everything or you can get more specific and look at links, tweets, photos, videos, or influencers.


4. TweetChat – TweetChat is a tool that lets you facilitate and monitor Tweet Chats and the use of hashtags. It's a great way to engage and expand your community. It's also an efficient way to highlight an issue. TweetChat has livetream feeds for each hashtag to let you participate in realtime.


What are you favorite tools for any social network? My team and I are always looking for new suggestions. Thanks!