Convio has had Convio Widgets and Personal Outreach Pages for a while now, but today they announced their Convio Personal Events,

“… a comprehensive online application designed to help individual supporters or members of nonprofit organizations, associations, institutions of higher education or faith-based organizations host and market personal events around a cause, theme or campaign…”

When the big names start getting into widget fundraising and personal events we are starting to look at a massive movement towards decentralizing the organizational website. Instead of having a single ‘official’ landing page, Convio is driving the trend towards having hundreds of smaller widgets – a kind of the best people to raise money/awareness are your donors, so lets give them the tools to do it philosophy. I predict that this type of decentralization is going to be the trend that drives fundraising and philanthropy into the next stage.

By seeing each constituent as a node in a network rather than a part of an organization, group fundraising helps you tap the knowledge, enthusiasm, and the peer network of people already giving to your cause. Its the wisdom of individuals in a crowd, applied to outreach.

Advertisements

Hi – please vote for my manifesto on changethis.com. Its pretty much a guide on how to use crowds to help you raise funds online.

Those of you that have been following this blog, and its predecessor ikissnoise for a while, will know that I have been a big fan of LinkedIn as a social network for business people. They do seem to be lagging behind the rest of the social networking crowd in terms of features. A recent announcement that they will be releasing an API within the next 9 months has been met with some criticism that it is too little too late.

So what other strategies are open to someone who has seemingly missed the API bus? Jeremiah Owyang recently posted some interesting thoughts on his blog.

One key feature I see that LinkedIn from benefiting is to become the online source of the resume, not just the networks that are connected to the jobs. Help users to answer; “what skills have I learned, who else has them, where can I find others with these skills”. There’s an opportunity to expand the tool as the online resume.

If LinkedIn is to become the premiere social networking tool for businesses (as stated in this article) then they need to consider joining all the communities that existing in the context of business. If I were working at LinkedIn, I would be pushing an API to Facebook quickly and also universal login that web managers could integrate into their site. This identity systems could feed into recruiting systems, monster.com and even the ‘career’ pages on corporate websites –let me fill out my core information (or different versions of it) once and submit to many. It’s an API really, and would actually be a competitor to some identity management systems, almost like OpenID.

I believe that if LinkedIn doesn’t open an API sooner than 9 months, they may be falling back further than they think. Although the hResume move was interesting strategically as hResume has not been widely adopted yet.

Push vs Pull

June 29, 2007

Yes, I love Ajax, heavy downloads, gimmicky names and sites and all. Yes, the push vs pull debate is so 1999. Not in the Ajax world where heavy loads can bring your server to its knees in a matter of minutes unless your Ajax is properly optimized.

Engin Bozdag, Ali Mesbah, and Arie van Deursen of the Delft University of Technology have compiled a technical report on various push versus pull techniques of building Ajax applications based on an example application that they built.

Their conclusion?

We have compared pull and push solutions for achieving web-based real time event notification. The contributions of this paper include the experimental design, a reusable implementation of a sample application in push and pull style as well as a measurement framework, and the experimental results.

Our experiment shows that if we want high data coherence and high network performance, we should choose the push approach. However, push brings some scalability issues; the server application CPU usage is 7 times higher as in pull. According to our results, the server starts to saturate at 350-500 users. For larger number of users, load balancing and server clustering techniques are unavoidable.

Worth a read if your team is developing an Ajax application.

Poseidongroove

June 13, 2007

I’ve been getting into Poseidongroove‘s posts lately. I think his comment on the Context of Use for Dynamic Languages pretty much sums up how I feel about software.

“… These days it’s not that hard to find something that almost meets your business needs. If you’re coding over 30% of the functionality, I think that’s bad !!! …”

Yesterday eBay made a series of announcements regarding new APIs and developer tools, calling for the company to rebuild the technical guts of its eBay.com site as a series of modular services, rather than a single, unified application. Today, David Berlind chipped in with an interesting analysis of web based APIs from Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and eBay becoming the new platform providers in the way that in the desktop era it was the operating systems of Windows, Mac and Unix that provided the primary platforms for applications.

In a sense what he is saying is that if we compare the API providers to Windows, or Mac, then the next step in application development is the user interfaces that are being built on top of those APIs. Microsoftware.

the Holy Grail for companies like Salesforce, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, Google, et alia: to be in the infrastructure business but to let developers be the ones that drive adoption through innovation. Sure, if you’re one of those or other API providers, it helps to provide prototypes or something that’s minimally functional to get new users started. But when I look at where Google is going with Google Apps (of which Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets are only a part), my sense is that there are innovators out there that will come along and build user interfaces on top of Google’s APIs that are far more compelling than Google’s native interfaces.

So where does that leave the nonprofit looking to leverage current trends and forthcoming trends? For a second stop thinking of the organisation as single unfied organisation based on a single platform. Start thinking of it as a technological enabler for a cause. The tools to enable that cause are developed and then the constituents are given these tools to develop their own version of the tools on top of them. In the way that Excel allows you to develop your own spreadsheets, rather than in the way that eBay releases a new API. If your constituents are savvy enough, you can always give them an API as well.

btw if you read through to the end of David Berlind’s article one can not help but think that he is arguing that the business to be in is the business of creating a better UI. I think Joel may agree.

Its a game of inches

June 10, 2007

Dave Winer says, “To create a usable piece of software, you have to fight for every fix, every feature, every little accommodation that will get one more person up the curve. There are no shortcuts. Luck is involved, but you don’t win by being lucky, it happens because you fought for every inch.”

I tend to agree with him. You do one tiny thing every day, after a couple of weeks, its ready. Then you make the developer use it, (s)he’ll find several other improvements that annoy them as they try to use it. Only then do you release it. Then comes the hard part, you listen, you listen to the users, you implement the feedback that makes sense.