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Twittering for Good – the talk of Vancouver’s First 2009 NetTuesday

I really enjoyed last night’s Net Tuesday event, the first for 2009. Net Tuesday focuses on the use of social media by non-profit organizations and in support of social enterprises. There was a moment when I looked around the room at the beginning and I realized I recognized very few people in the room – a great thing to see at a social media event in this city, where sometimes it seems that everybody knows everyone else.

I welcomed the chance to learn more about 3rd Whale‘s iPhone application, which makes it easier to locate green businesses. I was glad to get to hear their clarification on how precisely they define a green business as well, and to hear that it’s a methodology with a strong community component. They recently merged with HappyFrog (which I’m more familiar with, having been part of their FrogSquad at the EPIC Green Living Show) – but I don’t have an iPhone so this is one attendee they won’t be getting a download from. ;)

I last saw (and even tried out!) Urbantastic at Launch Party 5 just before October, and even at that point they were giving hints of heading in a completely different direction than their previous events-clearinghouse web application model. Their model sees them hooking organizations up with “micro-volunteering” – a term referring to skilled labour that professionals can donate to an organization in lieu of direct service or money, fueled by a well-articulated ask. The question and answer period for them was terribly informative for me, as the non-profit savvy audience brought up interesting hurdles and challenges, while the Urbantastic team graciously explained the particulars of their model and approach. I noted the model’s similarity to TimeRaiser, which sees artists auctioning their art off to people who “pay” with time volunteering to organizations in need of skilled work. Heath and Ben acknowledged this, and that they viewed Urbantastic as an extension and ongoing instance of TimeRaiser. I’m excited to see if organizations are able to benefit from this model; I suspect the challenge may involve getting smaller non-profits (not just the big ones with IT budgets and people to match) to get the attention and cycles needed to make good use of the tool, and have no doubt the Urbantastic team are working hard to make it easy and lightweight.

The rest of the evening included:

  • Steve Anderson from Save Our Net, the campaign to ensure Canadian Internet stays neutral. (Richard and I have voted with our virtual feet and real dollars by supporting non-throttling ISP TekSavvy, and are very happy with our home Internet service.)
  • Monica Hamburg giving a presentation describing the community-building features in Flickr, with a great example from Capulet’s Bear Your Soul photo contest as part of the Save the Great Bear Rainforest campaign.
  • Lorraine from Fearless City, who was energetic during her informative presentation about how she used Twitter during Fearless City’s Phones for Fearless campaign (driving home how much I need to get on the “re-tweeting” bandwagon). I’m trying to work out helping Fearless extend their campaign to Toronto during my stint at ChangeCamp, hope it can all come together!
  • Joe Soloman, who wrapped up with some great tips on how to do cool little layman’s hacks with Twitter.

I also had the great opportunity to run into Jenn’s friend with a flip camera (I really must make a better point of remembering names, ack!) who caught me on video rambling incoherently about Obama’s inauguration prior to Kris’ fun exercise getting people to give a quote and their Twitter usernames (which resulted in a number of new neat people for me to follow).

Check out Raul‘s liveblog for a much more, erm, comprehensive review of the event too. And props to WorkSpace for awesome venue-loveliness and Communicopia for sponsoring!

One Trackback

  1. […] champion of micro-volunteering is Karen Quinn Fung of Countability Infinite.  After following a model from Urbantastic, a group championing micro-volunteering as an […]

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