There is no doubt going to be a lot of new content and ideas flowing from the recently completed Government 2.0 Camp. Here is one of the first things I've stumbled onto - a video of Peter Corbett’s session - Creating a Citizen Driven Idea Sourcing Platform and Needs Matching System.
This very idea was one I and some colleagues were discussing the other night in trying to brainstorm ideas on small business in Portland. Systems where citizens/businesses can connect with others, identifying needs, providing help, asking for help...it's such a natural extension of the way the world of the web, and social media, is evolving.
Last week there was an event at Nedspace where "A group of Oregon investors and entrepreneurs, upset at the pace of
public investment in startup companies, plans a rally today to launch a
grass-roots effort to shake $100 million loose from the Oregon
according to an article on Oregonlive.com entitled:
Oregon-based firms press for more state investment support
I sent some questions to the reporter, Mike Rogoway because I just don't understand some of the statements in the article (not because of the reporting, but more likely I don't understand the investing process of the fund that the article is about):
The statement below seems to directly contradict what the article says is being done with that money:
The state treasurer's office says those funds are already committed, and it can't use retirement funds for economic development efforts anyway.
What she means, maybe, is that the State itself can't, but in reality that is exactly what Credit Suisse is being asked, by the state, to do, right? Making that statement somewhat disingenuous?
Are all the funds committed? Further down it says:
$5.5 million directly into three Oregon companies..
What's the difference between investing in companies and in economic development efforts? Its sounds like, also, that only 5.5 million, out of 150 million total, has been actually committed....or, as above, the whole 150 million has been committed, to Credit Suisse, to invest in Oregon companies.
Is that possible? Sounds crazy that there might be 145 million dollars sitting around these days.
Who could I talk to to learn more about that fund? Does Credit Suisse have a local spokesperson I could talk to?
The article states that the money was to be invested with VC firms...which, I believe, generally only invest pretty large sums of money into "home run" companies, that can become market-beaters., and provide outsize returns (eventually)...in other words, the big ticket gamble..which I would propose at this point in Oregon's economy is a terrible idea, or at a minimum a very short sighted one.
Not to mention the fact that the money (seems like) is still, pretty much, just sitting there 5 years later. Is an appropriate response...."What the hell???"
After 5 years, Credit Suisse found a total of 3 worthy Oregon companies they felt comfortable with giving 5 million dollars? Out of 150 million?
If the state legislature authorized that system, can they re-think/re-tweak it to make it actually useful? In what way is it currently useful? Earning interest? (Not that passive income is all bad). The article also says rapid investment won't generate the "long-term return the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund requires". But...I don't know....5 years is pretty cautious. Seems to me "not" investing will guarantee "no" return. Is that OK with the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund?
Maybe Credit Suisse should not be the arbiter here. Maybe there should be a mandate to DO SOMETHING WITH THE MONEY. And if Credit Suisse can't suisse it out, maybe someone else can.
What is missing from this equation? Could a timely and coordinated effort to dislodge/invest that money accomplish a lot of things...including helping Oregon's reputation as an innovative partner for entrepreneurs? Because right now, of course, Oregon has no such reputation despite the energy of the entreprenurial community here in Portland.
Readers, please fell free to correct my erroneous assumptions above. I may just be tilting at a windmill, but there are gale winds blowing, and the windmill has been sitting unused up on that hill for 5 years...are we tired of looking at it yet, wondering why it's there?
Social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter
have become vital tools for volunteers as they wage a desperate,
round-the-clock battle to protect Fargo from the river and spread the
word about rising floodwaters.
It's pretty simple stuff...all stuff that any small business should be considering these days as social media awareness becomes as "must-have" as a business card. At a minimum, small business should be AWARE of potential uses for social media to improve their bottom line and efficiency, so they can make a conscious decision as to how (or if) to engage in the evolving world of social media.
The "Left The Box" blog has a post today on hiring a Community Manager...outlining the great reasons why a social media campaign needs a community manager at the helm.
Really, every organization that depends on community needs one...and what organization doesn't depend on community in some way? A few years back, the utility of the web had evolved to the point that the notion that you could get away with not having a website for your organization was considered foolish and short-sighted. The role of a community manager who can monitor your organization's on-line presence, respond appropriately to problems or challenges, and develop and execute a strategy around engaging that community (whether it's brand marketing, fundraising, sales, reputation management) is one that soon will be considered absolutely essential.
I think many organizations (thinking non-profits here) figure that with budget constraints and this economy, how could you possibly add staff at this time?
There are of course many studies done on the ROI of social media, that make a convincing argument for taking the plunge...but I also wonder if there might not be a "time-share" approach that could be used for budget sensitive organizations? Much like most orgs do not have accountants on staff, but hire one as needed, or for quarterly review, etc., perhaps a 3 or 4 organizations, maybe with similar local constituencies, could form a collective in a way to get some Community Management help. What if the local history museums of Astoria, Bend, Tillamook and Yakima, Wa., all "went in" on a Community Management strategy...crafted for each of course, but, as they are of similar structure, scope and audience, could share tools, strategies and implementation costs, with each supporting a quarter of the budget?
Of course, the next step is...who puts that collective together...more on that next!
Here's the whole article on Left The Box, well worth a read:
Accountants - monitoring expenditure (actually I should set my wife up with this….)
Interior Designers - take a picture and Twitpic it every time you see a color, picture, style you like
His post recounts a meeting he (Problogger Darren Rowse) had with his acupuncturist...the end result being that his acupuncturist remembered some symptoms Darren had experienced because he'd seen it on Twitter!
We'll see more and more examples like these as the obvious benefits of Social Media for small business become even more apparent...even those twitter posts that are seemingly about "nothing"....are still data from which meaning can be gleaned.
Mark Drapeau, co-founder of the Government 2.0 Club, has written an excellent primer on how those in government might begin thinking about how to use web 2.0/social media principals in their work. I think it's important to note that while his post discusses particular tools, like Twitter and Facebook, the more important take-away is that the evolution of the relationship between government and citizen is towards engagement as conversation..." citizens are not mere receiving vessels for press releases and whatever you put on your government website."
It is a mind-set, a way of thinking, more than anything else...the article walks, step-by-step, through a process of how to explore the world of social media. "As top-down decisions trickle throughout government and grassroots efforts propagate upward, are you prepared to join the conversation? It’s happening with or without you."
And....I may make a bumper sticker of the follwing to hand out to those who are dipping their toe in the social media waters......BLOG LAST.
Read the whole article to find out why that is such excellent advice:
Portalfuze's Social Media blog has published a white paper on Nonprofits and Social Media. It starts from ground zero, defining social media and how it relates to nonprofits. Portalfuze is a business, and as such they pitch their own expertise/offerings in enterprise level social media tools. Some of the language and organization tend towards "consultant-speak", but, it can be read also as one company's strategic thought process in how to do needs analysis for your organization. So...if you like wonky style white papers, this could be a useful primer.