P16: a blog by Matt Kangas home archive
05 Mar 2008

NYC New Tech Meetup - March 2008

NY Tech Meetup - Mar 4, 2008 - "The Future of Organizing"

I've been subscribed to the NY Tech Meetup for several months, but I've never been able to get an RSVP until now. Woo! They had a pretty interesting lineup of speakers... different from their usual format, they invited folks from outside of NYC to present.

Below are my notes from the event.

Jordan Goldberg Stickk.com

Binding users to "Committment Contracts": losing weight, quick smoking, any personal goal.

The users declare how much money is at stake if they fail to attain the goal, and select the (charity, anti-charity). Bills through PayPal!

Choose "Referee" - someone to verify progress. They get an email notification, then are responsible for verifying the accuracy of the user's weekly reports.

Choose "Supporter" - someone to cheer you on, also gets periodic emails.

"Inbox" tells user each action (committment, referee, supporter) they need to take for themselves & others each week.

"Tagging committments" - helps people find other folks trying to achieve the same. "Giant AA meeting" :)

Peter Dietz - Social Actions, Montreal

"Help build a mashup of 29+ social action platforms"

Interoperability between "social action platforms" (29+ identified to date): sixdegrees.org, givemeaning, thepoint, change.org, firstgiving, fundable, razoo, helpalot, ...

Jesse Richards - Meetup.com - "Pledges"

Example: no Taoism meetups in Pittsburgh

User could start a meetup... but this is intimidating. Costs money, time.

Second option: sign up for a waiting list. Requests "pledges"

Then you can see other people who have made matching pledges in this area. Little "I Pledged" banner under user's icon. :)

Helps eliminate hierarchy between group and one organizer.

Launched in November 1, 70k people pledged to date (Mar 4).

More waiting lists than groups. Easily 10x, 100x maybe. "System for aggregating demand for community"

Paul Miller - SchoolOfEverything - London, UK

"Everyone has something to learn, everyone has something to teach"

Inspiration: "The Free U" at Stanford, 60s... if you had something to teach, you posted a sheet on a bulletin board. (See book "The Dormouse ..." for info)

What do you want to learn? Search for teachers in the area. Any topic that is legal.

Existing sites for building, sharing curriculum: - these guys are about brokering relationships

Feedback/reputation mechanism is what they're working on now (nothing in place yet)

Can organize classes on the site, but no way to see if there's demand for a class... yet.

Andrew Mason - ThePoint.com - Chicago

Inspiration: Started ~1yr ago, when he was canceling a cell-phone contract

Helps action groups reach critical mass (tipping point)... any kind of group action.

campaigns are:

many amusing campaigns

Can be used for fund-raising: "You pledge to contribute $X WHEN N people sign up"

"The Point is for... when every little bit does not count."

it's for finding out "how many people are needed to take X action, such that a company's policy will no longer exist"

Want to create a market for policy decisions in corporate behavior, and the cost (in people * action) to make it happen

Clay Shirky - HereComesEverybody (.org) –– A BOOK

"the power of organizing without organizations"

case studies: airplanes sitting on runways, users disgruntled, ... 1999 airlines could just wait it out, 2007 lawsuit succeeds. what changed?

case 2: "flashmobs", started in ny by guy who wanted to demonstrate how brainless hipster culture was! - when it got to Belarus, "mass eating ice cream" ... arrested by secret service!. provoked gov't into real action. - repeated to demonstrate to the world what life was like in Belarus - when used in high-freedom environments, flashmobs look silly. but in low-freedom places, becomes way to undermine authority

case 3: stickers in palermo against mafia. some media exposure. - then organized businesses online who refuse to pay off the mafia

"Media is moving from a source of information to a site of action"


Q: How are they looking to measure results (effectiveness)

stickk: looking to add "group committments", where money goes into a pot and those who succeed get a cut of the pot (!)

Q: Have these guys approached the large incumbent charitable orgs to help the scale?