“Dailyish updates” (draft post for The Seminal)

Draft.  Work in progress — feedback welcome!

The revised version will (hopefully) be posted on The Seminal

Get FISA Right logo

Ever since the my.barackobama.com email list melted down in July, Get FISA Right has had problems with communications…  We are going to try to start up to a daily newsletter/update that can get posted on the blog and then broadcast via email, Twitter, Facebook (maybe), MySpace, etc.

– me, on the Get FISA Right blog, January 23

Every activism campaign faces the challenge of keeping people informed without overloading them.  It’s particularly acute for Get FISA Right because we’re explicitly trying to engage with people who prefer to get their information via social network sites (Twitter and Facebook so far) as well as the more traditional blogs and email.*    Hopefully our experiences will be useful for other activism campaigns as well.

Our goal is for people who have even a little bit of time available to be able to quickly see what’s up — and where they might be able to help.   For active Get FISA RIght members and allies in the civil liberties community, it’ll be a minimum-investment way of staying informed.  For the 95%+ of members who only have time intermittently, it’ll be a quick way of coming up to speed when there’s an action alert.  And for potential members, bloggers, and the media, it’ll be an easy way of tracking what’s going on and deciding whether it’s interesting.

Assuming we can make it work, that is.  It’s worth a try.

The basic idea is described in the Next dailyish update page: draft it on the wiki.  When it’s ready post it to the blog and then broadcast via Twitter, Facebook, email, and eventually other channels.  As usual, the devil is in the details.

Last Thursday was the first attempt.  Since we hadn’t been any updates in several weeks, it was a fairly lengthy post.  The headings give an idea of some of the kinds of things these updates will cover: “discussions” (on the blog and wiki), “volunteers needed”, and “FISA in the news.”  Tuesday’s update was much shorter, and led with the two pieces of most important news.**

twitter logo by Svetlana GladkovaI broadcast the first Dailyish update out on the blog as well as Twitter, email, and my personal Facebook feed.  For the second iteration, I also posted it to the Facebook group and page (and included the link in the “Broadcast instructions” on the wiki page to make it easy for others to do the same).  Since I’ve been learning more about Twitter recently, I also tweeted to the #tcot and #topprog Twitter channels; and Harry Waisbren, who’s helping with our Twitter outreach, retweeted it from Get FISA Right.

It took me about 45 minutes to assemble and broadcast this morning’s daily update, which isn’t bad at all. With a little practice, it should be less than half an hour to put it together — and a minute or less for each of the channels.  Of course there’s no guarantee that people will read it … and in fact most won’t.  Still, it’s clearly got potential up as a sustainable, low-overhead way of keeping people informed.

An important point here is that this approach can scale nicely as we add new channels like change.org and MySpace.  change.org, for example, is starting up a group blog for us and other Ideas for Change winners, and that’s likely to be the best way to reach the 12,000 people who voted for our idea — and the other 200,000+ people in the change.org community, most of whom are likely allies.  Copying the dailyish updates to that group blog makes it easier for people there to stay informed.  Conversely, when good discussions break out there, we can include links to them in the dailyish update so that members who don’t hang out on change.org know that there’s something interesting happening.

At least in theory.  No doubt we’ll continue to evolve this approach as we get more experience — and feedback!   Please don’t be shy :-)  Suggestions, criticisms, examples of “best practices”, and so on, are all very welcome!


Twitter logo from Svetlana Gladkova on flickr
Licensed under Creative Commons

* well, and also because we wound up losing email contact with 80% or more of our original 23,000 members.  See Micah Sifry’s Can We Talk? Can They Listen?, Carlo Scannella’s Nomadic Democracy, and my Paging Clay Shirky for more.

** we’ve got a conference call Saturday, and our first post is up on change.org’s Ideas for Change in America group blog