Here in Portland, OR, we have what you might call “an abundance” of breweries. Even in a beer-loving town, it can be a challenge for new or smaller brewers to get attention among so many good choices. To help, tap houses and bars sometimes do what’s called a “Tap Takeover,” turning over all their draughts to a particular brewery for a night as a way of introducing all its different styles to its customers.It’s good for the brewers, and it’s good for the beer drinkers.

Inspired by the idea, we thought we’d try something similar now that we’ve merged with Tech Impact. For November, we’re turning over the Best of The Web to some of our new colleagues to let them introduce themselves and share some of the most interesting things they read about nonprofits and technology this past month.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, allow me to present the Tech Impact Best of the Web Takeover

Kera Dorsey
Las Vegas
Admissions Manager

(ITWorks | CXWorks | PunchCode)

Comcast Forced to Pay Refunds After Its Hidden Fees Hurt Customers’ Credit
File under “is this really news, though.” Internet Service Provider contracts are notoriously misleading, but what’s surprising is the happy ending to the article, where Comcast had to refund the customers’ money and restore their credit in Massachusetts. Now, if only I could get a refund on the time I’ve spent on hold with internet tech support…

Samsung’s Foldable Smartphone Reportedly Costs $1,770, Launches in March
I’m a child of the ’90s, so I remember foldable phones being a thing. Pierce Brosnan rocked the Ericsson JB988 in his role as James Bond, and I inherited two of my dad’s old Nokia Communicators. Samsung is leading the charge with this new foldable design, and I can’t help but wonder if this iteration of the fad will wear off just as quickly as it did the first time.

Patrick Callihan
Executive Director

People Come First in Digital Transformation
Technology cannot solve all of our social issues or even all of our internal challenges, which means that people may very well play the most important role in Digital Transformation. For this newly released research—a whitepaper entitled “Digital Nonprofit Skills Assessment”—
NetHope studied some of the largest NGOs in the world working across a variety of verticals and geographies. The research included interviews from over 300 professionals inside those organizations to probe for their own skills and their organizations’ capacity. The findings are outlined in the executive summary, but suffice it to say that the sector has some work ahead to adopt digital skills in a rapidly changing environment. It’s not just for technology’s sake, but to make us better organizations that respond to the world’s most challenging needs.

Jordan McCarthy
Infrastructure & Security Lead

One the most important and underappreciated systems that powers the Internet is called the Border Gateway Protocol system, or BGP. This system is basically a GPS tool with real-time traffic information for the entire Internet, which every bundle of information that travels through the Internet consults to determine the fastest possible route to its destination. What’s amazing about this system is that it isn’t maintained by a single company, like Google Maps is, but is rather a concerted collaborative effort involving thousands of BGP authorities (Internet Service Providers, major Internet companies, government agencies, and other organizations that maintain route information) all around the world—all of whom work together almost solely on the basis of trust. 

The system depends on every BGP authority being willing to accept and pass along updates to routing information and traffic flows from peers all over the globe, regardless of political alliances, trade disputes, and other geopolitical fault lines. Since no single entity has the capacity to independently verify that all the BGP updates coming in from around the world are valid, these constant streams of updates have to be blindly accepted by everyone, on the presumption of global good faith. This is in many ways a very inspiring and idealistic system, but it’s also very fragile. These two articles discuss how easily the BGP system can be broken, and what happens when it is:

A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley
The past decade has seen an immense amount of research, commentary, and generalized hand-waving about what, exactly, our relationship with Information Technology is doing to us as a country, a species, and a planet. Some crow that the rapid diffusion of computers and Internet access have helped us achieve previously-impossible levels of productivity and prosperity; others assert with equal passion that our obsession with our screens is damaging our ability to concentrate, regulate our emotions, and relate to each other in a civilized way.
Last month, the New York Times revealed that some of the people who are most fearful of the negative influences of information technologies are the very folks who are creating those technologies—and some of these people are going so far as to hire dedicated nannies to keep their kids away from the technologies they’re creating. If the people who are building the tools we all spend 12-plus hours a day with are afraid of their own kids using them, that poses some pretty uncomfortable questions, which we’re going to need to confront sooner or later.

Elizabeth Levy
Events Manager

 

Seven Game-Changing Things Nonprofits Can Learn from For-Profits
Guidestar always puts out great articles and some informative and thoughtful pieces, but I particularly like when they combine it with some snarky and funny perspectives. This article, one of hundreds that talks about ways nonprofits can learn and act more like for-profits, sprinkles in some laugh-worthy pieces of advice, but can honestly get you thinking about ways nonprofits can enhance their operations. For instance, can we provide all-you-can-eat hummus bars or on-site gym trainers? Probably not, but there are other, uniquely-nonprofit ways we can incentivize and keep great staff.

Powerful Women Don’t Need the Limelight to Be Influential. Here’s Why.
During a peak time in our national conversation around women’s place in leadership positions, it’s refreshing to read about the characteristics women bring to their positions of power that differ from traditional leadership styles. I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and for, amazing women in my decade-long career in nonprofits, and some of their most-welcomed and advantageous skills were their soft ones. While not a blanket approach for all women leaders, it’s empowering when women in the workplace value their natural way of leading without feeling the need to adapt a more masculine approach.

Michele Tomlinson
Marketing and Communications Manager


PetSmart Charities Uses Mobile Location Technology To Drive Adoptions
It’s raining cats and dog thanks to real-time location targeting. PetSmart Charities used GroundTruth’s Location for Good tool to drive awareness and traffic for its annual adoption event. The digital campaign targeted potential adopters by location, interests, and past shopping behaviors to increase foot traffic at key adoption events. The plan worked quite well! This is a great example of how the use of innovative technology can further an organization’s mission. GroundTruth’s Location for Good program donates media campaigns to generate awareness and action for nonprofits.

How Your Nonprofit Can Use Marketing Automation to Drive Donations
This is a good reminder of how and why nonprofits can and should be using marketing automation tools. Automation saves time and helps to tailor your message to various audiences based on specific interests. The upshot? Targeted communications often lead to better relationships and more donations.

Claire Billington
Data Services Associate


Data Leeks
You read that right, leeks involved in data leaks. Need some inspiration for what to bring to your next potluck? Firefox has put together a list of recipes that were exposed in large-scale email hacks. Security has never been more important, either for your personal data or grandma’s secret recipe. Seriously.

The 97-Year-Old Park Ranger Who Doesn’t Have Time for Foolishness
This is neither about technology nor nonprofits in particular, but is without question the best story I read this month. Betty Reid Soskin has had many careers, most recently as a park ranger at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. “In my younger years,” she says in the article, “I aspired to changing the world. Then reality kicked in, and I settled for 500 square feet.” May we all strive to make our 500 square feet a better place.

The Web We Lost
This is not news from the last month or even the last year, but in my defense, the author himself has been re-circulating this in the last few weeks. In a blog post far ahead of its time, Anil Dash muses on the rise and fall of social platforms not built for billion-user scale. He argues today’s web is focused on constraining user creativity, but stresses that time will fix these things. Six years since the article was written, you may be surprised at how much still applies to the current state of the web. It left me wondering how similar the landscape will be six years from now.

The Secret History of the Future
A partnership between Slate and The Economist, this podcast compares modern technological advancements (AI, driverless cars, and 3D printing) with how society reacted to technological advancements in the past (18th century robots, horseless carriages, and plaster casts). I’ve listened to the entire first season in the last three weeks, and every episode is a gem. I highly recommend the episode entitled Human Insecurity, about how supposedly unbreakable systems and codes are always (you guessed it!) broken.

Sam Chenkin
Director of Consulting Services


‘The Business of War’: Google Employees Protest Work for the Pentagon
Tech giants have long kept their workforce happy with high salaries and free meals. But things seem to be changing. Google has recently faced extreme backlash over plans to coordinate with the US Armed Forces and over issues with gender inequality and harassment. This month Google Employees walked off the job in protest (We’re the Organizers of the Google Walkout. Here Are Our Demands). Tech companies have tremendous power and it’s important they learn that it is at least possible for their staff to hold them responsible.

Spend “Frivolously” and be Penalized Under China’s New Social Credit System
The logical conclusion of technological innovation might be less collective liberation and more totalitarian nanny state. Check out this truly terrifying system now rolling out in China. A new “Social Credit” app and system tracks everything citizens do (jaywalking, complaints about the government, fines, hours of video games played) and assigns a social credit score. Those with low scores are unable to book travel or access other basic services. This is the reason technology professionals need a code of ethics.

Francis Johnson
Director of Technology Services

Four Ways to Build Flexibility Around Innovation
Associations Now published this tech feature about innovation best practices that I found really helpful. Innovation, like designing a book that can be read within the palm of one hand, allows companies to adjust to the demands of their consumer base. But ideas alone will not produce the strongest effect—in fact, this article suggests four main things to keep in mind when it comes to new ideas and strategies:

  • Survey not only what is going on within your sector, but also what innovation lies beyond your sector.
  • Focus on finding a pain point for constituents and organize your ideas around addressing that pain point.
  • Find an influencer (company, executive, celebrity, etc.) who can amp up the press and buzz around your idea.
  • Don’t be afraid to continue using old ideas that fill a need amongst constituents. I think that with these four tips, nonprofits can take their ideas from inception to reality without losing sight of their constituents, their pain points and the overall mission.

 
We’ll be back next month with our regularly scheduled programming. As always, if you come across something you think would be a good fit for Best of the Web, send it to info@idealware.org. Until then, have a great Thanksgiving.

See you next month…