Saturday, October 28, 2006

Social Networking & The Environment, etc.

Today I read an article titled " Social Networking Grows Up," written by Sarah Lacy on October 26, in the Technology section of Business

"Name for me one other social-networking site that's having an intelligent debate about health care or Iraq or about the environment," she quotes Tom Gerace, key investor and supporter of

Lacy notes that "The year-old site is trying to create an online space for the NPR crowd." She quotes Bill Kling who is president of American Public Media Group, one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming. ' "We discovered there is someone—usually many people—who know more about any subject we broadcast than we do," he says. What's more, they seemed to be yearning for a way to interact with the stations, not just passively listen to the radio.'

My assumption is that new applications for Social Networking, especially on natural resource and environmental topics is just beginning. Blogs, Wikis, and discussion groups are growing in number and, I believe, will provide a much needed public dialogue which should influence future management, political and scientific decisions. I also assume that interactive web sites that provide a lot of visual information about natural resource and ecological issues, and at the same time invite people to participate (interact) in these discussions, can be an important stimulus for this dialogue.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Google Earth - 2006 Election Guide

Google Earth has added the 2006 Election guide, another amazing interactive feature, to the U.S. maps to allow people to find information about Congressional Districts in every state. Two sub-layers can be turned on or off and include the U.S. Election guide and the U.S. Congressional Districts that shows the defining borders of each district.

You can click on the Election Guide placemarks to find the following information:
1. Election Information:
  • Register to Vote and Voter Information
  • Campaign Finances: FEC, Center for Responsive Politics
  • (Link to - Total amount of dollars raised by each candidate)
2. Candidates: (Name and Party)
  • Related web sites
  • News
  • Images

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wikis for Grassroots politics

On 10/18/06 I wrote about Hot Soup, New Social Networking for political and other opinions. The web site became live the next day and the potential looks promising, even though there are a some issues or bugs that I hope will be worked out soon. / Update 10/25/06 William Beutler sent me a a blog entry that is much more critical of

Today I found a reference in TechNewsWorld, to an article written by Tom Sowa, on 10/9/06 in The, titled "Wikis get political."

"Two relatively new sites that transfer the wiki idea to the world of grassroots politics are Campaigns Wikia and"

Campaigns Wikia - "The Mission: It's time for politics to become more intelligent, and for democracy to really involve the people. Broadcast media tells you what to think and doesn't let you get involved. It's time to focus on what you need, what you care about, and the messages you want to get out."

More Perfect promotes "creating a more perfect union: more perfect is an entirely new approach to democracy - enabling more direct public involvement and participation, and creating a marketplace of ideas where we, the people, can collaborate with each other on matters that affect our daily lives."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bill Moyers, PBS - "The Net at Risk"

Last night the Public Broadcasting System, aired a very important program about Net Neutrality issues that is also available to view on the Internet by Bill Moyers titled, "The Net at Risk." A "live discussion" and 'blogs" are also available on the PBS web site "Moyers On America."

The web page provides a statement that "The future of the Internet is up for grabs." Will citizens have the same open opportunities for personal expression and social networking that have been developing for more than a decade? Or will Congress, in the very near future, allow a few very large corporations to construct a "toll road" which could restrict these new emerging opportunities in the future?

We should all be actively involved in insisting to our elected representatives that this issue deserves a thorough public discussion throughout America. This topic may be one of the most important of our times. Imagine that Blogs, discussion groups, sharing photographs and other creative multimedia efforts, etc., are restricted in the future, instead of encouraged as we have come to expect.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hot Soup - New Social Networking for political and other opinions

Tomorrow, Oct. 19, a new social-networking Web site will launch named It "aims to give an online voice to the millions of U.S. residents who keep up with the news and influence the opinions of their friends, family and coworkers," according to an online article today in Macworld. 'The goal is to create smart, civil debate, said three of the site’s co-founders during a preview Wednesday. “Americans are tired of yelling at their TV screens,” said Allie Savarino, a Hotsoup co-founder who also helped start the social-networking site. “They want a voice of their own, and they want someone to listen.” '

I had read about the Hotsoup project, and registered for membership, in July with the understanding that it would be operational for the 2008 national elections. Interestingly, it now appears it will be available for citizens to use for the upcoming 2006 mid term elections. I wonder how many people might participate and whether it will make a difference in just a few weeks. Check it out and tell your friends about it, and we will see what happens.

Another source of detailed information about is another Wiki type site named, "Source Watch" a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. One overview comment is that " "will be organized in a way similar to, with areas for information and networking so people can connect to one another"; "will also include discussion boards throughout the web pages"; and "will feature a ranking system to allow users to rate how persuasive, interesting, and relevant they find someone else’s insight or opinion to be."

My understanding is that another goal of the Hot Soup project is to try to get politicians to take a stand, before elections, on issues that large numbers of people support. I sincerely hope a significant number of issues that start to be discussed immediately are related to local, regional, national and global issues related to natural resources, environment, ecosystems and climate. In addition, I believe that as more people learn how to participate in this type of Social Networking effort, they will be inclined to participate in other civic projects and even start their own project blogs, wikis and discussion groups for people with mutual interests.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Social Networking tools are "also" being used by Business

Community Groups and organizations are learning how to use Social Networking tools but they are also becoming popular with big business organizations. Martin LaMonica, in an article on C/Net, titled "IBM warms to social networking." quotes Michael Rhodin, the general manager of IBM's Lotus division.

"The guiding idea behind the effort is to help people tap into the collective knowledge of their co-workers, in much the way consumer social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook connect people online.

"The real phenomenon of Web 2.0 is the concept of community," Rhodin said. "What if you could create tools that allow you to tap into the collaborative wisdom of a community?"

I believe this is what is beginning to happen with individuals and groups interested in natural resources and environmental ecosystems. The more we can encourage people to learn about this new phenomenon, and the more people are involved, the possibilities for creating better decisions for the future are limitless.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Environmental Countdown sponsors Amanda Across America

Environmental Countdown is creating a project to highlight online video of people across the country who are leading efforts to change their communities for the better. One video is available now titled "Spill at Newton Creek." Their web page notes that " Later this fall, we will launch as a full site where anyone can submit videos about what they're doing in their cities and towns across the United States."

Currently Environmental Countdown is sponsoring Amanda Congdon's Trip Across America and playing select videos from communities along the way. For this project Amanda has created an interesting web site that also has a wikia project where visitors can suggest interesting places she might visit and also a section called "Environmental Awareness" where visitors can enter information about environmental projects they want to highlight. Amanda has a significant Video Blog Internet following and this is a neat new way to let people learn how to particpate in a Wiki project.

One of the wiki trial pages was titled "Rain Gardens" and I submitted a link to the Interactive Watersheds project for the Potomac Watershed Partnership where we produced a 360 degree panorama and video describing the construction of a rain garden at the Blue Ridge Community College on the Shenandoah River in November 2000.