What a difference two years makes!

Only about 1% of the AAUW members ever attend convention, but many more are extremely interested in what happens.  As someone who’s been on communications teams at the branch and state level, I’ve been passionate about getting information out “to the folks back home” since my first convention in 1999. At first (1999, 2001), I was concerned about posting information of my personal activities (e.g. IT 2001 campaign), but then I started documenting the North Carolina delegation (2003, 2005, 2007). Those were mostly posts I did from my room after all the events were over.

In 2007, in response to the culture change to have more information immediately available, we also tried using twitter to get information out from the floor of the convention. Louse (@weegspin), Kate (@skeggy), and I (@nes49) were pretty much shouting into the void, though — there was no real way to get the word out to the members that another information stream existed. See the report on that experiment.

This year, however, there was a rich “twitter stream” on all aspects of the convention. Staff and members both contributed, and while there was limited “conversation” with the folks back home, at least the word got out to many who were able to follow along. See the transcript.

What changed? Here’s my list:

  1. Facebook happened. In the spring of 2007 a student from Alabama had started the first (and still the largest) AAUW Facebook group. After the 2007 convention, a second group was started by students from Illinois Iowa to help unite the younger members.  Starting in the fall of 2007, Facebook started attracting the “not so younger” members who were able to find each other, and they started conversations on how to use Facebook to advance the mission. The 2009 convention itself had a group.
  2. AAUW started a blog in early 2008. The staff’s use of “web 2.0” technology to raise awareness and support conversations legitimized the use of “putting unfiltered information into the public domain” in addition to the tightly controlled e-mail lists and the properly more formal research reports and www.aauw.org in general.
  3. In late 2008, AAUW committed to sponsor the Feminism 2.0 conference, and that conference in February, 2009, demonstrated the possibilities of both blogging and micro-blogging to forge connections and build support for a wide range of issues on the feminist agenda.
  4. So by June 2009, we had folks with blogs, facebook profiles, twitter, flickr and more who were ready to report back to the members at home about all that was going on. More than that, they could find each other and share photos, comments, and updates. I don’t know all that went into the staff’s decision not to publish a daily “newspaper” about the convention — but I think the coverage was pretty good without that extremely labor intensive project. Of course we’re still using e-mail lists and other tools to gather information for state newsletters and web sites, and more will be coming out in the next few weeks. But I think we did a credible job of getting the flavor of convention to those who couldn’t attend but were engaged enough to follow the information stream.

Again, I’m just seeing part of the elephant, but I have to give credit to Linda Hallman who took over as ED in January 2008 for supporting a culture that allowed this experimentation by the staff. Thanks, of course, to all the staff members and volunteers who participated. After such a big disappointment with twitter in 2007, this 2009 information sharing has been great.

I wonder what things will look like in 2011…

I’m back on twitter

Okay, we’ll give this another shot. I started on twitter in 2007, but dropped it as a time sink that didn’t have a high enough signal to noise ratio. I also figured that anyone who cared much about what I said was my friend on Facebook and would see notes there. So for the last several months, my twitter use was pretty much limited to following @kim_gandy and @cnnbrk on my phone (though it’s sometimes surprising to see what CNN thinks folks need to know RIGHT NOW.)

The Fem2.0 conference brought it back to my attention (though I still think scrolling the #fem2 tweets on the screen behind the panelists was more distracting than valuable, and the twitter based meetings were *really* low on signal to noise). Also that meeting helped put twitter on the AAUW radar, so there’s now an “official” @aauw twitter stream and a few of the staff chime in on their own. I’ve still no evidence that AAUW members in general are into twitter — I expect (as I found in 2007) that the number of AAUW twitterers compares to the number of AAUW Facebook users about the way twitter/facebook has penetrated the general population. That might be down from the 1:100 ratio to more like 1:30 — but with only on the order of 1000 folks on Facebook who identify with AAUW, I’m not convinced there’d be a big payoff for twitter. [But then, I remember crying as I was leaving the “younger members session” in Phoenix in 2007 — the panel said “use text messaging” but my note about twittering the convention was rejected as  inappropriate for the Convention Daily.]

We’ll see if I stick with it (and can control the time sink). Two new tools may help:

  • The Firefox add in Shareaholic. Almost a one-click tweet of an interesting link. Let me know if you find those annoying. I still do use del.icio.us for things of lasting value (particularly tag aauwtech).
  • Web interface tweetree.com. This is something like twitter.com on steroids —
    • gives additional info on links including showing  the media links as pix or videos,
    • has a box to do a search directly (instead of moving over to search.twitter.com),
    • shows (as best as it can figure) the original message when a friend posts an @reply,
    • supports retweet directly (without copy/paste),
    • and more.

I’m still being circumspect about following other folks – so don’t take it personally, just consider my borderline ADD and twitter @nes49 to get my attention (or, as my twitter profile still says, find me on Facebook).

Why I’m going to Fem2pt0

On Monday, I’ll be at the Fem2pt0 conference in DC. While not quite an “unconference,” the “point” of the conference has been a little vague. But AAUW was a co-sponsor and it sounded interesting, so I signed up.

My background for the conference (which I guess I am thinking of as mix of web 2.0 and feminism) includes

  • Working on web minus 1 strategies for using technology to connect people since 1982.
  • Using web 1.0 strategies to connect feminists, in particular, since 1996
  • Using web 2.0 strategies for feminists and other organizations since 2005.
  • Supporting the NC Women United coalition with web/virtual office strategies since 2002 when the nonprofit that had been managing that organization’s projects lost its funding.

I’m a fan of WordPress and Facebook. I’m a twitter dropout (but for limited use of twitterfeed). I’ve been a noisy advocate for better use of technology at AAUW since 2001, and am currently serving as admin of the largest AAUW Facebook group which is about to pass 1000 members.

I hope to connect with new folks and learn new strategies to

  • promote AAUW’s mission and feminist goals
  • learn how to better use 2.0 strategies for fundraising
  • engage volunteers, particularly feminists (of all generations)
  • keep up with the whirlwind pace of new techniques that help us all share information without succumbing to information overload.

So, as you can see, I’m a “work on the plumbing” kind of person — not much feminist theory in my background, and I’ll let others do the heavy lifting of crafting positions that I’m glad to help publicize.

I’m looking forward to the day!

Going back to tab navigation in iGoogle

I’ve been recommending iGoogle for awhile — particular using iGoogle to display RSS feeds. It’s my default home page — showing AAUW headlines from a few sites, general news from a few sites, the weather here and at Mother’s, a clock, a couple of stock tickers, a few “fun” widgets, etc.

I’ve also set up a tab to access my Google docs –makes sense not to have that cluttering the main page since I think of it as a completely separate application.

A week or so ago, the tab navigation (at the top) changed to links on a left-hand sidebar. This apparently has something to do with Google’s earlier announcement of Open Social and their desire to reserve some screen real estate for updates like those that Facebook displays on your home page. But for me at the moment, the whole left-hand sidebar has just two links — a silly waste of space.

In the notice about the change, the unofficial Google blog says:

If you have the new version, but you prefer the previous interface, go to the settings page and select English (UK) from the list of languages. Please note that this is just a temporary fix.

Works for me, for now.

I guess the question is “When will the grand convergence come, and how will it fit on my 1400×1050 screen and my 1949-model brain?” For now, when I want to see updates from my contacts, I go to Facebook (not twitter, not friendfeed, not Google). When I want a quick overview of the world around me, I go to iGoogle (not Facebook).

When “real world” applications and “applications affecting contacts” start to run on the same platform, what will the UI look like to keep those different classes of applications both displayed in a way that makes sense?  Will my screen or my head explode first?

Script to work with list of members in Facebook group

Okay, I’m now the administrator of a largish Facebook group and facing the problem of finding a particular member when I want to add them as an admin. The following script may be helpful to convert the list of all members to a delimited text file that can be imported to Excel, and used for that purpose or other metrics.


  • You can get the list of all members from the “edit officers” page.
  • My version of Excel (2002) isn’t working too well with non ASCII characters in names. If anyone knows a UTF-8 converter that could be used here (to, say, remove diacritical marks and such — we’re not dealing with huge amounts of non-ASCII data), please let me know.
  • There’s nothing but name and network here. But if you’ve got another list of stakeholders, it might be able to match your Facebook supporters with that.
  • Networks don’t show for some folks. It may be a problem with people who are in more than one network — haven’t really investigated.

# convert list of members (most recent to earliest) from a facebook group
# format
# First{additional} Last {(Network)}
# to the format
# Number:First{additional}:Last{:Network}
# where number is earliest to most recent

sed 's/make officer//' | # delete cruft
sed 's/^ *\* //' | # delete more cruft
awk '{printf "%s\t%s\n", NR,$0}' | # number lines
sort -nr | sed 's/^[0-9]*.//' | # print in order of last to first then delete numbers
awk '{printf "%s:%s\n", NR, $0}' | # renumber in the order folks joined the group, with number as first field
sed 's/ \([A-Z][^ ]*\) (/:\1:/' | # if a network, put separators before last name and network
sed 's/ \([A-Z][a-z]*\)$/:\1/' | # if no network, put separator before last name
sed 's/)//' # delete trailing ) for lines with a network