Hi Gunner,

As usual, I followed your instructions and spoke to Eugene Kim during your Tech Center party the other night. Took me a while, since people kept talking to him (what’s up with these people?) Two hours later, I have to leave, and fortunately he’s still leaning on the same bit of wall.

We talk about our nonprofit wikizine project, how we have so many stories lined up, but not enough writers to write them. I say we’re testing a second approach: asking people who work in nonprofits to write about other people they know who are trying to make the world a better place. I say it’s like social networking, but instead of promoting yourself, you promote others.

Eugene bounced off the wall. Okay, I exaggerate. He moved from a leaning position to a standing position. He tells me how he was at this party the other night (what a party animal) where Pete Kaminski of Socialtext does this experiment, asking people to tell the story of someone else in the room. People let loose, having fun with it. Eugene explains that people might be too modest to talk about themselves, but they have no problems bragging about their friends.

So one thing I’d like to have the Commons do is be a place where people can brag about how their friends are changing the world. What I’d like to know from y’all: (1) is this a good idea? (2) who’s doing this already? (3) what’s a good way to do this?

I posted this letter on on our wiki, so you can comment there. Old School people like Gunner may email me instead, and I’ll do the posting for you.

Here’s what I imagine

  • the site’s in a pretty magazine format
  • it’s got various “edition” pages, e.g. a Tech Center edition about people housed there, a Peace edition about people in the peace movement, an Arts edition etc
  • you read a guys’s story, and see a map of people who contributed to writing her article, and who she’d written about
  • the editions get laid out by magic, depending on the story’s tags, and the number of writers contributing
  • it’s focused primarily on the valley and bay areas, but what’s to stop it from going global?
  • I’ve registered for a space on OpenServing, and if that gets approved, we can distribute all ad proceeds (all two cents of them) among nonprofits of each contributor’s choice. We’ll be rich!

Thanks again; Leo


  • from Gunner, Executive Director, Aspiration:
    • (1) is this a good idea? I think so, as long as you can keep it real. If it evolves to ass-kissing one-upmanship type stuff, no one will read it. But with earnest stories, absolutely!
    • (2) who’s doing this already? No one I know of.
    • re "what I imagine", All sounds good :^)
  • I think this is a stellar idea. Let me know if you get it off the ground - sounds like something we would want to link to from our site. - Darian Rodriguez Heyman, Executive Director, Craigslist Foundation
  • I love the idea of a non-profit eZine on OpenServing - Gil Penchina, CEO, Wikia
  • “I think the idea of having people talk about each other is an excellent and unusual one. I also think that you might want to feature a story about a particular nonprofit blog or service (i.e. 501(c)(3) radio, dogooderTV, etc.) in each edition. Another variation on this is to offer more multimedia and not just text stories. A friend of mine has recently developed a new video tool called Rosetimes which allows one person to conduct a video interview with another person in a completely separate location. Both interviewer and interviewee appear in the same frame in the final result. Just requires both ends to have a broadband connection, standard video camera and a VOIP application/microphone. I am happy to connect you with the creator, Phil Shapiro, and might even be able to conduct an interview/storytelling with someone you are eager to feature as a first run?”
On a separate note, but still in multimedia mode, here is a 30 minute video presentation on “the future of nonprofits” that I did at the San Diego Community Technology symposium this past August. Feel free to use it in an upcoming issue, again, if you want to feature some video as well as text. It provides an overview of how technology will be impacting the world of nonprofits/NGOs over the next 5-10 years. - Paul Lamb, Man on a Mission Consulting, LinkedIn