Monthly Archives: February 2009

Lighting up Legislation

sunlight-logoThe Sunlight Foundation boasts a clear, straightforward motto that comes from the words of  Justice Brandeis:

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

Founded in 2006, this organization has a “non-partisan mission of using the revolutionary power of the Internet to make information about Congress and the federal government more meaningfully accessible to citizens.”

Big goal, you say?  Yes, and Sunlight is way on its way to achieving it. Already they have nearly two dozen projects underway, a bustling and eye-opening blog, and interactive contests and labs (including Apps for America, which awaits entries!).  These all provide refreshing illumination on the inner workings of big brother, especially for people like me who may not tune into C-Span very often.

Founder Ellen Miller announced Read the Bill in an inspiring email today.  This project represents a unique call to action for something that actually uses the internet to slow…things…down…for more thorough review.  Another project, Party Time!, exposes fabulous and fascinating Capitol Hill party scenes. And, of course, Sunlight twitters.

Very cool—check them out.  More to come.


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Filed under Fostering Sharing

Mouthing Off…

Imagine you asked an open-ended question about how members of an audience learned about a concert. Imagine you came up with these responses.

duck-to-duck-to-duck38- Word of mouth
31- Listing/review
29- Website
27- Print Advertisement
21- Email
18- Poster
16- Postcard
7- New York Times
4- Friend of an artist
2- Just walked by
1- block association newsletter

Thinking beyond the numbers, “word of mouth” permeates more than it initially seems. Why? Because “word of mouth” is not only words from lips. Recommendations, references, and interpersonal info dissemination come in forms beyond face-to-face and vocal. Here is my calculation of who really learned of this event because another human shared:

38 are self-reported “word of mouth” people
+ 15 (at least half of the “listings,” since these critics are trusted people)
+ 10 (half of the “emails,” since people, not just companies, send emails)
+ 4 (friend of the artist-this one is just a more specific “mouth”)
+ 1 (block newsletter could easily be considered friendly social gossip)

This really is 68 instances of social sharing (aka word of mouth)! (Though I wonder if we should be labeling it either of these terms.)

Line items on most arts marketing budgets (and probably most all marketing budgets, for that matter) and job descriptions are not in sync with the ranking above. Could it be because we cannot easily measure money allocated to and effort on behalf of sharing?

I would argue that measurable output is more important than input, especially today. We can cut budgets all we want, but providing customers with a megaphone undoubtedly gives organizations more bang (be it good or bad) for the buck.

So how can we spend time and money on social sharing? How can we make the shift in our budgets and job functions? (This goes for nonprofits and for-profits.) Here are two ideas, one simply and one not:

  1. Make every touchpoint sharable, via incentives, AddThis buttons, whatever.
  2. Think of every annoying audience member as a potential opportunity. (If someone is bugging you it is because they care. Even if they care only about themselves, in their mind it is still in relation to you. If you show you care back, they will notice and still care. If you don’t care back they will care even more. (Haven’t we all been here?) There is a chance they will tell others either way; at this point you cannot stop them from caring.) Here are some unconventional steps one arts organization took after embracing annoyances.

So now I ask, what could this be called in our budgets and on our job descriptions? CRM? Fire-fighting? WOMing?

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Filed under Fostering Sharing

Too much of a good thing

Oh the “Reply All” function. We all know how it feels to be bombarded with emails from perfectly kind strangers, be they friends of friends of our dad’s, overzealous rec league volleyball teammates, college buddies, or, possibly worst of all, work cohorts.

Everyone hates it, yet it still happens. Why ?  As with many perplexing questions, I believe it depends on the person. Here are a few culprits:

  • Lazy folks: “I don’t want to bother so I’ll do this to be safe…”
  • Careless individuals: “It’s an email. If they don’t like it they can delete.”
  • Clueless ones: “Great forward Fran..!!!  I liked your shirt yesterday…etc.”
  • Self-important peeps: “My time’s to valuable to have to say this twice.”
  • It’s too late people:  “17 emails already…what’s one more?”
  • Enough!! people: “A small request: Please let’s not hit reply all any more.”

These are cases of people blurting messages without taking a brief moment to think about audience. They represent a step backward to days of one-way, mass messages. These instances are not sharing, but yelling, even if they aren’t typed IN ALL CAPS.

Together we can stop the madness. One company has taken a step in doing so.

Nielsen Logo


In December, the Nielsen Executive Council (NEC) held an Act Now! event to review suggestions from across the business that would eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency. Beginning Thursday, January 29, we will implement one of the approved recommendations: removing the “Reply to All” functionality from Microsoft Outlook.

We have noticed that the “Reply to All” functionality results in unnecessary inbox clutter. Beginning Thursday we will eliminate this function, allowing you to reply only to the sender. Responders who want to copy all can do so by selecting the names or using a distribution list.

Eliminating the “Reply to All” function will:

  • Require us to copy only those who need to be involved in an e-mail conversation
  • Reduce non-essential messages in mailboxes, freeing up our time as well as server space

This is one of the many changes being implemented as a result of the NEC Act Now! initiative. If you have any suggestions on how we can continue to improve the way we work, please send your comments to Nielsen Communications.

Andrew Cawood
Chief Information Officer

In my opinion, brilliant!  Nielsen has not only listened to employees who are willing to join in open dialogue (regarding a company about which these individuals know better than anyone), but it has framed its decision perfectly.

Some disagree with the severity of this outcome; others have done the math to prove its value.

I’ll end this post by saying my friend at Nielsen is happy with the policy. And, he tells me something the lazy and clueless folks don’t know and don’t deserve to: “Reply All” still works at Nielsen. It just requires two thoughtful clicks via the menu bar. Seems only fair to sharers who care.


Filed under Case Studies, Email

Attention fellow Bloggers!

will-work-for-attentionDear classmates,
As Kim and I were chatting Tuesday night, we realized that adding a website/blog link to the signature line of your email is an ideal way to (discreetly) spread the word.  If you haven’t already, why not do it now?
Christy (

PS- Thanks, Kim! (Media for the Misses)

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Filed under Email

If a tree falls in a forest…

Someone once told me that advice is only advice if it does not matter if the person on the receiving end follows it or not. That was good advice. But does the same go for sharing?

In my opinion, and for the purposes of this blog, I think not. To me, it’s more about the receiver(s) receiving (and hopefully processing and appreciating) than the sender sending. It’s market focused. In other words, sharing is not so much deontological as it is teleological/utilitarian (to harken back to intro class terminology…sort of).

Here are some instances of each. Let’s make this an on-going list:

Facebook in general
Really good blogs
Google docs
This American Life
Permission marketing

Blogspot letting me use my WordPress identity to post comments

Not sharing:
Lazy emailing
Bad websites
Many Facebook status updates (i.e. “little junior has green vomit today”)
4th Generation iPod Nanos not supporting Firewall changing
25 random things
Endless reply-alls

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Filed under Defining Sharing

Throwing Sand

sandboxAt my first job sharing was important business. I worked at a pre-school, my alma mater.

It must be from those summer days on the playground that I gained an appreciation for the sandbox, and for how it has since morphed to facilitate a totally new kind of sharing. Google docs, Open Office, Wikis, and countless more act as valuable labs for learning from and building on one another in the adult world.

(I find also it interesting that, like physical sandboxes, the new ones are not without drama about playing fair.)

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Filed under Open Source Technology

Share @#$%!

In my quest to learn about  The Knot situation, I decided to first investigate the site that made it possible: Add This. Many such offerings exist; two other popular ones being Add to Any and Share This.

I was hoping to implement the option that suits my requirements for being helpful, but not overwhelmingly so:homepage_bnr

  • an email option
  • icon limits to prevent panic
  • allows readers to stay on my blog

I tried them all. And none had it all, so I turned this investigation into a competition. Whichever responded to my email and forum inquiries first would win not only my use, but my official endorsement. And this competition was not in my head only—I made it clear that my patronage hung in limbo.

The conclusion? You can’t always get what you want:


Because our button is javascript based, only users with a premium account will be able to implement it on their site. We apologize for any inconvenience, and thanks for giving us a try.

ShareThis Support

Broader conclusion #2: When an institution isn’t making money the notion of losing to the competition does not matter.

Would any Blog Spot bloggers be interested in trying this on your platform?

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Filed under Digital/Social Networks, Email