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Tech4Good Meetup Discusses Online Community Building

Tech4Good is a meetup group that connects people from all types of industries. Whether you are a non-profit organization, a funder, a programmer, an individual with a great idea, or a social changemaker, this meetup group will welcome you.

As most good meetups do, members are encouraged to share, learn and collaborate.

This month’s speaker, Justin Isaf, briefed folks about the benefits of managing communities. Justin currently manages 4 million comments a month for the Huffington Post Media Group, and has eight years of experience building highly leveraged online communities.

He covered topics like :
– how to spot the trolls who spam communities
– the importance of reaching critical mass of contributors and commenters
– how to get people talking to each other
– and…a URL to download an e-book version of Randy Farmer’s Building Web Reputation Systems.

Justin also offered three tactical approaches to leveraging communities (Twitter, Forums, and Blogs) while giving insight into their strengths and weaknesses. Twitter, for example, can be used to build conversations between followers, but those kinds of communities will never grow as large as the more traditional Forums. Blogs, on the other hand, give Community Managers more control over their communities than the other two approaches. Justin also discussed the Pros and Cons of being a community manager. “You need to have thick skin to do this work,” he stated after describing an experience where one of his former community leaders started spreading rumors about him on the web.

Read more

WordPress 3.1 Book Giveaway – Free!

The last few blog posts I’ve posted here have all started out with “exciting news” – this one’s no different as we’re doing a Giveaway of a WordPress book!

WordPress 3 Complete by April Silver is a thorough guide on all things WordPress and even includes code samples if you get the e-book. We’ve got an advance copy and will be posting a review soon. But you don’t have to wait for my review – you can win a copy today. To enter to win a copy of the book, simply post a comment on why you want this book, how you would use it, or simply link to your current WordPress site. A winner will be chosen randomly using random.org.

What you will learn from this book :

  • Install WordPress in a variety of environments
  • Upgrade WordPress from older installations
  • Add images, videos, tags, and categories to blog posts
  • Personalize and control the content of your website
  • Manage the look and feel of your site with customized themes
  • Allow users to have a variety of control over content
  • Link your website to the outside world through feeds, syndication, and podcasting
  • Create custom post types to manage books, movies, people, or anything else you can imagine
  • Design and create your own themes and plugins from scratch

So – leave a comment! Let us know in the comments section why you could use this book and you could win a free copy. Good luck!

New Directors / New Films New Website

There’s no other way to say this – we’re really proud to announce the launch of NDNF’s new site : http://newdirectors.org.

In collaboration with the MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, we built a custom WordPress theme to house the film festival’s lineup. In celebration of the festival’s 40th anniversary, we developed a few custom post types to store the 300+ films in their archives. The website includes a directory of films, along their directors, and an interactive timeline.

The design was put together by MoMA’s fabulously talented Art Director, Brigitta Bungard.

For a preview of what’s to come on the big screen, take a look at the listing of this year’s films.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

UPDATE : You can read a bit more about the festival on the NYTimes.

MTV Act Launch

We’ve got super exciting news – a project we’ve been working on with MTV + Purpose is finally out in the wild!

MTV Act Blog

Together with the fantastic design and strategy team at Purpose, we developed a custom wordpress plugin for MTV’s Act Blog, helping move people towards collective action.

Some of the basic tech details …

Our custom plugin utilizes custom post types to allow MTV to build a directory of actions. The plugin also connects directly to the Social Actions database and gives the MTV bloggers access to a large set of actions to plug into their posts.

MTV Act Widget

We also worked with the Gigya API – this particular piece encourages visitors to share their actions with their friends.

Many thanks to all the folks who spent countless hours working on this!

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/jackomo/status/32677789358366720″]

Raising Money on Facebook

Either you’ve got a Facebook page (or you about to set one up). Either way, you’re probably wondering how to use that page to generate some cash. You’re not the only one. So the good folks at Nonprofit Webinars put together this great webinar on just that – how to use facebook to help your organization raise money. This particular webinar and series of slides was put together by the very fantastic Jeff Patrick, President & Founder of Common Knowledge.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/NPWebinars/status/30370329859723264″]

We’d love to hear from you – how do you plan to use facebook to help you raise money?

EarStudio Relaunches New Site in WordPress

Ear Studio

It’s been a busy few months. In addition to launching a new photography site, this past November, we helped relaunch EarStudio.com, a digital media studio founded by artist Ben Rubin. Ben has collaborated with great folks like Laurie Anderson, Paul Virillio and Diller+Scofidio/Renfro. In 2007, he was commissioned to install Moveable Type in the NYTimes building.

Using WordPress + the Thesis Theme, we were able to deliver a fully manageable site. The new site includes a featured content gallery, a blog, galleries within every page (using the Simpleviewer wordpress plugin), and a completely customizable sidebar. And because we’re using the Thesis Theme Framework, he can update a majority of his fonts and colors without knowing any CSS code.

Check out the site and let us know what you think!

Ear Studio

And if you live in NYC, make sure to check out his new solo show at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery. It’s awesome!

New Photography Site

We’re happy to announce the launch of a new wordpress site for NYC Based Photographer, Kristofer Dan-Bergman. The site features a full gallery system, a sweet blog, and a nice slideshow on the homepage. The site was built with ThemeFoundry’s awesome Photography Theme.

You can see Kristofer’s live site by clicking here or clicking the image below

Below is a conversation I had with Drew Strojny, the founder of ThemeFoundry re: the launch –

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/jackomo/status/27074436800716801″]
[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/drewstrojny/status/27139518666637312″]

And, for those interested in getting the theme, click here to purchase the Photography Theme.

Creating with Social Media

Today, I’ll be speaking at Pratt on the topic of social media. Personally, I hate the phrase social media, but love the ethos of sharing, collaboration, and coordinated groups. For those who can’t make it (or for those tuning in after the discussion), take a look at the articles I’ll be mentioning : Malcolm Gladwell’s article “Small Change : The revolution will not be tweeted” in the New Yorker, as well as Beth Kanter’s reponse, Social Media for Good.

This workshop is partly based on the class I am currently teaching “Creating with Social Media

you can register for the class here

Go Take a Hike – with Elastic City

Elastic City Logo

This Summer, Elastic City (one of our recently launched projects), is giving walks throughout New York City. But these are not your typical tourist walks. These walks are led by artists. Todd Shalom, the founder of Elastic City, realized the idea while suffering from altitude sickness in Cusco, Peru.

The walks intend to make its audience active participants in an ongoing poetic exchange with the places we live in and visit. Artists are commissioned by Elastic City to create their own walks. These walks tend to focus less on providing factual information and more on heightening our awareness, exploring our senses and making new group rituals in dialogue with public space in the city.

The walks have been featured in TimeoutNY, WNYC, Wallstreet Journal, Gothamist, and other publications.

To listen Todd talk about the walks on WNYC, click here, or hit play on the player below

Browse the walks listing and rediscover New York.

Upcoming classes at 3rd Ward

This Spring and Summer, I’ll be leading a series of workshops and classes at 3rd Ward. Topics will focus on ecommerce, online marketing, social media, online communications, building an online audience, and finally – a 3-part wordpress workshop.

The classes were initially designed to be taken together, but are now flexible enough to be taken as individual components. Below is a description of all the courses.

Curious about past courses and workshops I’ve led? Want to peruse lots resources or just kill a Saturday nigt? Great. Check out my new archive of workshop resources.

Create Using Social Media

Facebook is now among the top 3 most visited sites in the world. This course will focus on how to leverage platforms like twitter, facebook, and flickr to create dialogue around your work, support your research, and build community. Many artists, non profits, and businesses are successfully using these online publishing platforms to share their mission, values, and process.
Section 1: Tuesday 7:00-10:00p, May 11

More info…

Email marketing is the most effective way to reach your customers, audiences, donors, and constituents. During the workshop, we’ll cover best practices for generating effective email campaigns. We’ll take time to actually consider what you can do to grab your reader, and move them to action.

Section 1: Monday 7-10p, May 24

More info…

Learn the basic mechanisms of e-commerce: who’s involved in transacting online? What are the roles of different parties? What happened when users click the “Submit Order” button? We’ll cover the necessary steps to set up and run your own online store: Get an Internet merchant bank account. Find a reliable host. Learn how to utilize your ecommerce technology.
Section 1: Tuesday 7-10p, May 25

More info…

iPhone apps versus Mobile Website

For the past year, I’ve been working with clients who are itching for an iPhone app, but don’t yet have a dedicated mobile site. iPhone apps have great potential for engaging your current customers and building out your location based services. Before beginning development on an iPhone app, though, you need to ask “Should we focus on building out an iPhone app when we don’t yet have a mobile site built out? Do we have resources to do both at the same time?”

Why should you develop your mobile site before investing in an iPhone app?

Heather from DIOSA Communications addresses this questions in her latest article. Below are the 5 main points. For the full explanation, visit the original article.

1) Almost anyone with a mobile phone can access your mobile website whereas only iPhone users can access your iPhone App.

There are 4.1 billion mobile subscribers worldwide (277 million in the United States) and just a small fraction of those are iPhone users.  

2) Mobile websites are easy to update whereas if you want to update an iPhone App, then the user has to download the Updates.

Essentially, updating an m.yoursite.com is a bit easier than updating your app and asking users to download the update.

3) As the smartphone market expands, are you then going to also launch multiple versions of your App?

Are you going to also create Apps for Palm, Blackberry, Android, etc.?

4) Social networking sites all have mobile websites and their traffic grows every single month.

(think m.twitter.com, m.facebook.com, m.youtube.com)

5) Text alert campaigns need mobile websites to be successful.

If you’re engaging customers via text messages, a mobile compatible site that loads quickly is absolutely essential

Related Links:

Four Reasons Why Nonprofits Need a Mobile Website
10 Nonprofit Mobile Websites
PhotoKast’s Guide on How to Build an iPhone App

Social Media Bootcamp | Resources

During SMartCamp (Social Media Art Camp), nonprofits, artists, arts organizations, bloggers, strategists, and a bunch of other really really interesting people gathered to talk about the intersection of Arts, Culture, and Technology.

As part of SMartCamp, we also ran a 4 hour Social Media Bootcamp. The workshop, which was limited to 20 participants (broken up into smaller groups of 5), allowed attendees to develop the foundations of a social media strategy, or workshop an existing social media strategy in a small group setting with one-on-one support from workshop leaders.

The workshop leaders included
Farra Trompeter
Maryann Devine
Damien Basile
and me, Jaki Levy.

Each facilitator gave a short 10 minute presentation, and then led a conversation within the small groups. All 4 presentations are included below (for even more SMartCamp presentations, go here).

Read more

Setting Up an Ecommerce Site

This winter, I’ll be teaching a series of classes at 3rd Ward. The first part of the series will be a workshop focused on setting up an ecommerce store. We will look at live sites and multiple ecommerce platforms. This will be a great class and flexible enough to meet your needs. Read below for more



Running an online store enables you to sell your works and products without the constraints of time and space. This seminar serves as a crash course in running your own online business. Two main topics will be covered:

The basic mechanism of e-commerce: who’s involved in transacting online? What are the roles of different parties? What happened when users click the “Submit Order” button?

Steps to set up and run your own online store. Get an Internet merchant bank account. Find a reliable host. Learn how to go about your ecommerce technology. Consider buying an off-the-shelf solution, renting technology from a 3rd party provider, or using open-source or free shopping cart software packages. Learn about payment processing with PayPal, 3rd-party hosting and doing it yourself. Get familiar with shipping methods, managing inventory and your products, securing online transactions, designing your store appearance, and basic search engine optimization (SEO).

Jaki Levy founded Arrow Root Media, a New Media Production and Consulting company. Jaki has worked with multiple non-profits, including: Issue Project Room, The Field, Dance/USA, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, Queens Council on the Arts, DanceBrazil, and Soundstreams.  His online initiatives and work with Misnomer Dance Theater helped the company secure over $1.25 million in grants from the Doris Duke Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation to help develop new initiatives for the arts online. He was also the recipient of Cisco’s $25,000 Digital Incubator grant. In 2010, he will be officially launching elastic-city.com, a full ecommerce site devoted to artistic walking tours in NYC.

573 Metropolitan (btw Lorimer & Union), Brooklyn


Organizing 2.0: How to Plan for Your Website Redesign

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”
– someone who planned

Whether you’ve got an existing site, or need a new one, you need to plan either way. While a web designer or programmer can help you build a site, it’s up to you to figure out “What do I need?”

(via Julie Blitzer @ Advomatic)

New Site: Hudson Valley BarnHouse

So what’s been happening down at the barn?

Well, glad you asked…

We just recently launched a new site: Hudson Valley BarnHouse

The site was built for a rental property in Warwick, NY offering rentals to vacationers and people who simply want to get away. The site features a full lightbox gallery, fully customizable font colors, and is completely mobile friendly (so people on the go can navigate to the property).

I’ve included a few pictures below, but go ahead and see the site for yourself. Heck – who knows – you just might find a great new deal for your next winter vacation!

(thanks to the Elegant Themes community for great support and great themes)

Watch the video below for a glimpse on how the web is touching people everyday.
(via Gawker)

(thanks for the video Mitch!)

New Privacy Policies on Facebook, Cake, and Death

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberger recently announced that Privacy Policies will be changing on Facebook.

Here is an excerpt from the facebook blog:

“Facebook’s current privacy model revolves around “networks” — communities for your school, your company or your region. This worked well when Facebook was mostly used by students, since it made sense that a student might want to share content with their fellow students.

Over time people also asked us to add networks for companies and regions as well. Today we even have networks for some entire countries, like India and China.”

Still with us? Okay – this is the “good” stuff:
“The plan we’ve come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone.

We’re adding something that many of you have asked for – the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload. In addition, we’ll also be fulfilling a request made by many of you to make the privacy settings page simpler by combining some settings. If you want to read more about this, we began discussing this plan back in July.

Since this update will remove regional networks and create some new settings, in the next couple of weeks we’ll ask you to review and update your privacy settings. You’ll see a message that will explain the changes and take you to a page where you can update your settings. When you’re finished, we’ll show you a confirmation page so you can make sure you chose the right settings for you. As always, once you’re done you’ll still be able to change your settings whenever you want.

We’ve worked hard to build controls that we think will be better for you, but we also understand that everyone’s needs are different. We’ll suggest settings for you based on your current level of privacy, but the best way for you to find the right settings is to read through all your options and customize them for yourself. I encourage you to do this and consider who you’re sharing with online.”

Ok – everybody got that?

Make sure you review and update your privacy settings when the time comes.

In other Facebook news, Facebook has also updated its policies on sweepstakes. For more on what that might mean, read this great article on TechCrunch about spamming people and making a shitload of money on facebook (written by Dennis Yu, a former spammer).

Ok – now you can enjoy Eddie Izzard’s Cake or Death in Lego Stopmotion