Participants Make an Unconference

Last week I attended NonProfit 2.0, an unconference dedicated to the social cause space.

It was a most productive day.

What is an unconference? It’s a group of people who come together to learn in a common field — in this case, social media media and its value in the nonprofit world.

The organizers were Alysson Kapin, Geoff Livingston and ShireenMitchell. The people who show up make the session, they told the audience.

We heard from two keynote speakers first thing and then as participants, we tossed out topics we wanted to learn more about. Some had been suggested via email in advance. And just because you suggested the topic didn’t mean you had to lead it, although that did happen.

After the session times were filled in on a white board, we all wandered off to find the sessions of interest to each of us. What if the session turned out to not be what we expected? Shireen told us, “Use your two feet.”

Before I knew it, it was almost 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. How could the unconference be over?

It was an unconvential and productive way to spend a Friday afternoon. I have dozens of ideas for my blog (I’ll be sharing with you throughout the coming weeks) and for work. I also had lots of business cards and 12 pages of notes on my Netbook.

Now I simply need to find some unfilled time to make it all happen.

Citizen Journalism Hopes to Impact BP Crisis

Geoff Livingston, a professional communicator, author and co-founder of Zoetica, is taking citizen journalism to the Gulf today. He and others want to find ways to help the fishermen impacted by the BP oil spill.

Says Geoff, “We will use all of our blog tools and social media capabilities to tell the stories of the people we meet and share them with our online community.”

(photo from Geoff Livingston's blog)

“It will be the personal story of how the spill is impacting people,” Geoff said Friday. “The story is so big it’s daunting. We want to bring it down to a personal level.”

Working with Citizen Effect, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., Geoff and others will be in the Gulf this week to talk with those impacted and with those who are able to affect change.

In addition to the social media platforms, Geoff says, he already has several commitments for wider distribution. “We anticipate it being reported a little bit,” he says.

“I want people to feel like they can do something,” says Geoff. “We have to help each other. We want to find a way to help out the fishermen.”

One way to do that is to tell their personal stories.

Reading to Learn about New Media

Who says books are going the way of the dinosaur? Sure, there are Kindles and Readers, but when you’re working at your computer trying to figure out Facebook, SEO or just what the next big communications trend will be, a book is a helpful and welcome tool.

Since I’ve been writing about social media frequently since starting this blog, I wanted to share five books that you might find of interest.

1) “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us” by Seth Godin makes clear that the Web has eliminated the boundaries that often prevent tribes from forming.  Now that any group can become a tribe, who is going to lead them?

2) Twitterville: How Business Can thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods by Shel Israel shares revealing stories of Twitterville residents. On Twitter, which is dominated by professionals, word spreads quickly.

3) “Now Is Gone: A Primer on New Media for Executives & Entrepreneurs” by Geoff Livingston with Brian Solis started as a way for Geoff to share the epiphanies he had with regards to the changing communications landscape. I met Geoff about six months ago and then worked with him on a Twitter campaign.

4) “The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web” by Tamar Weinberg will help you understand how social web technologies work, and learn the most practical and effective ways to reach people who frequent these sites.

5) “The Truth about Search Engine Optimization” by Rebecca Lieb is the book for you if you don’t know what SEO stands for. This book isn’t going to give you the technical know-how you’ll need but it is easily digestible and gives you and idea of what you need to do with respect to SEO.