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Posts Tagged ‘clay shirky’

Just thought I would share this interview since Clay Shirky does a good job of reviewing his main points in “Here Comes Everybody” and providing a couple of recent examples of the effects of technology on organizing.

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This year, the national organization for volunteer centers, HandsOn Network, has partnered with hollywood to promote volunteering and basically “make volunteering cool”.  This effort is also supported by President Obama, who launched the “United We Serve” campaign from the first days of his presidency and passed the “Serve America Act”.
With volunteerism and volunteer centers suddenly thrust into the national spotlight there are important changes underway that have serious implications for what we do and how we do it at our organization.  For example, President Obama’s website, www.serve.gov, encourages volunteers to start their own projects and use the site to connect to other volunteers who can help them in their community.
On the one hand this site has been great for us, because our data is pulled in to the site and a lot of publicity has gone into promoting it.  On the other hand, the site and the publicity around it takes the “professional volunteer manager” out of the picture and encourages grassroots organizing without acknowledging the important role that a volunteer manager can play in maximizing the ability of volunteers to create change in their communities.  Volunteer management is a relatively new field, with the Certificate of Volunteer Administration (CVA) just starting to gain steam and a new national association for volunteer managers coming into its own.
From what I read in Clay Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody, about the way new social technologies are revolutionizing the way that people can organize themselves and reducing the need for some professions, I believe that volunteer management is one of those professions that will be transformed or eliminated by the growth of these technologies.  When serve.gov was announced it should have been a great moment for volunteer centers across the country, but all of the volunteer center administrators that I spoke to were upset and fearful of what the new technology meant for volunteer management and volunteer centers.
Now, as many volunteer managers just started to embrace the President’s initiative, this new campaign from Hollywood, iparticipate brings up new fears and dillemmas.  We putting our messaging, our PR, in the hands of the mouthpiece with arguably the largest mouthpiece in the Nation, and it could turn out to transform the way our industry does business.
The iparticipate website states “Everyone’s a volunteer, some just haven’t met the right opportunity yet.  This is your chance to participate”.  I love it!  In my opinion that is the perfect wording for our campaign.  Unfortunately, the messaging is not consistent, and we are starting to see some questionable messages come out with recent PSAs and ads from the related programs.  Check out a few below and see what I mean….

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