In a soundbite and tweet driven new media world a snappy quote can go a long way. Easy to post, easy to retweet, and also a simple way to look clever (important when ego is a big part of our online profile).
Today the Internet was rabid with conversation focused on the passing of Osama Bin Laden. And many of my friends shared what seemed a thoughtful quote from the great Martin Luther King:
“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives but I will not rejoice in the death of one not even an enemy Returning hate for hate multiplies hate adding deeper darkness”
Except The Atlantic reports that not only did MLK never speak these words, they only appeared on the Internet yesterday.
A quick google search turns up lots of tweets, all of them from today. Searching Martin Luther King Jr. quote pages for the word “enemy” does not turn up this quote, only things that probably wouldn’t go over nearly so well, like “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.” I’m pretty sure that this quote, too, is fake.
Which reminds me of another quote that tells you a lot about communication in an instant world:
A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can get its pants on.
One billion people lack access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us. But working in the water sector, it sometimes feels like less than one in eight people even realize the world is living a water crisis right now.
To address this, my team at charity: water enlisted the awesome animator Jonathan Jarvis to produce alongside us a brief, entertaining video that can explain the breadth of the water issue in a few short minutes. We were also lucky to have the support of a great friend of charity: water, actress Kristen Bell as narrator.
Please take a few minutes to watch this video on how Water Changes Everything – and if you love it, share it anywhere you can!
And if I can make one ask of YOU – I would love nothing more for you to share this video on Facebook, Twitter, your own blog or even via email! Every view counts as we battle to tell the world about the one billion people living without life’s most essential need.
I’m an early user, and a fan, of the site. Founded by Lauren Leto here in NYC it has some serious brains behind it, and a small but loyal (and growing) following. Bnter right now reminds me of Twitter back when having 100 followers was a HUGE deal.
Today’s Politico email shared a great anecdote from ”In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives” by Steven Levy:
“Google was Obama territory [during the campaign], and vice versa. With its focus on speed, scale, and above all data, Google had identified and exploited the key ingredients for thinking and thriving in the Internet era. Barack Obama seemed to have integrated those concepts in his own approach to problem solving. Naturally, Googlers were excited to see what would happen when their successful methods were applied to Washington, D.C. They were optimistic that the Google worldview could prevail outside the Mountain View bubble. … [A]nyone visiting the Google campus during the election year could not miss a fervid swell of Obama-love. While some commentators wrung hands over the Spock-like nature of the senator’s personality, Googlers swooned over the dispassionate, reason-based approach he took to problem solving. … ‘It’s a selection bias,’ says Eric Schmidt of the unofficial choice of most of his employees. ‘The people here all have been selected very carefully, so obviously there’s going to be some prejudice in favor of a set of characteristics – highly educated, analytic, thoughtful, communicates well.’ …
“[O]ne of the company’s brightest young product managers, Dan Siroker [the Chrome browser], … got permission to take a few weeks off. … At [Obama] campaign headquarters in Chicago, Siroker began looking at the web efforts to recruit volunteers and solicit donations. … [H]e returned to Google to help launch Chrome. But over the July 4 weekend, he went back to Chicago to visit the friends he’d met on the campaign. Barack Obama walked through headquarters, and Siroker was introduced to him. He told the senator he was visiting from Google. Obama smiled. ‘I’ve been saying around here that we need a little more Google integration.’ That exchange with the candidate was enough to change Siroker’s course once more. Back in Mountain View, he told his bosses he was leaving for good. He became the chief analytics officer of the Obama campaign. …
“Just as Google ran endless experiments to find happy users, Siroker and his team used Google’s Website Optimizer [tool for testing site content] to run experiments to find happy contributors. The conventional wisdom had been to cadge donations by artful or emotional pitches, to engage people’s idealism or politics. Siroker ran a lot of A/B tests and found that by far the success came when you offered some sort of swag; a T-shirt or a coffee mug. Some of his more surprising tests came in figuring out what to put on the splash page, the one that greeted visitors when they went to Obama2008.com. Of four alternatives tested, the picture of Obama’s family drew the most clicks.
Right now I’m reading Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel – essentially a quick history of civilization and the role geography plays in shaping our past, present and future.
A chapter on technologies role in history yielded this interesting tidbit of info on the QWERTY keyboard that says a lot about human rationality and the power of vested interests:
Unbelievable as it may now sound, that keyboard layout was designed in 1873 as a feat of anti-engineering. It employs a whole series of perverse tricks designed to force typists to type as slowly as possible, such as scattering the commonest letters over all keyboard rows and concentrating them on the left side (where right handed people have to use their weaker hand).
The reason behind all of those seemingly counterproductive features is that the typewriters of 1873 jammed if adjacent keys were struck in quick succession, so that manufacturers had to slow down typists. When improvements in typewriters eliminated the problem of jamming, trials in 1932 with an efficiently laid-out keyboard showed that it would let us double our typing speed and reduce our typing effort by 95 percent. But QWERTY keyboards were solidly entrenched by then. The vested interests of hundreds of millions of QWERTY typists, typing teachers, typewriter and computer sales people, and manufacturers have crushed all moves toward keyboard efficiency for over 60 years.
Last week I was in Austin, Texas for the SXSW mega-conference – think Woodstock, for nerds.
While there I had the good pleasure to meet a great charity: water supporter and one of the smarter guys in the cause-marketing space, Simon Mainwaring, who shot this video with yours truly for his blog (apologies for the croaky voice… SXSW will do that!).
Simon is a must-follow if you’re interested in social media for social good, cause marketing or corporate social responsibility. And I’m not just saying that because he’s a fellow Aussie!
Right now he’s promoting his new book We First, one of the first books I’ve heard of that will laser in on the intersection between social media, social good and corporate strategy.
I’ve had the good fortune to be able to thumb through a pre-release copy of the book and can enthusiastically recommend you pre-order it here.
Last week I was the guest of the Personal Democracy Forum as they hosted one of their series of PdF Network conference calls, this one looking at charity: water’s success in online fundraising.
The PdF team were good enough to share audio of the event, and Micah Sifry put together a quick outline of the call I’ll share here:
Money is a by-product of great connections and great content. Again and again, Paull explained how charity: water focuses on serving its supporters with content that is worth paying attention to, and on insuring that their experience working with the organization is “filled with delight.”
There’s no “donate” button anywhere on charity: water’s Twitter or Facebook presences. Instead, those channels are used for what they do best, to help spread messages and build connections. Don’t view “donors as wallets,” he said. They’re people with whom to build rewarding relationships.
Pay attention to (and share) all the great stories that your members may have to share. Paull talked about Riley Goodfellow, an 8-year-old supporter of charity: water who convinced her friends to eat rice and beans for a month, and then got their parents to donate the money saved on food, and who carried a water can to school each day to understand what it felt like to have to walk to a well each day to get clean water. (Her whole story is here.)
Mycharitywater.com, the group’s distributed fundraising platform, has enabled thousands of people to build their own personal fundraising campaigns, many of them around donating their birthdays.
This approach has to be embraced from the top of an organization or it won’t work. Hands-on training for leadership can help a lot, otherwise people tend to reject methods they don’t personally understand. Also, charity: water is very much a “digital start-up,” Paull noted, with something like a third of its core staff devoted to online organizing, web design, coding, etc.
Podcast for: Using Social Media for Non-Profit Fundraising- charity: water’s Success