ANSWRing Social Media's Call


First off, Happy New Year! 2009! Woot! The calendar year here at Aspiration wound down sans Gunner. Gunner was running around the world for about 6 weeks, leaving me and my coworker Mike to keep all the ducks in a row here in the Bay. I thought it would be a bad situation but we ended up fine with our little buddy Skype helpin' us out. December was kind of a half-month just because I left for Christmas but I can confidently say that we got a lot of work done before shutting down for a couple of weeks.

We've started to amp up the work on a website called ANSWR, which will basically be a sort of one-stop resource for general information on nonprofit technology implementation. For example, we'll have content aimed at nonprofits starting out (e.g. "What's the best free email client for a mid-sized nonprofit?"). We're working with the people from Idealware and hopefully getting a lot of help from people in the sphere like Beth Kanter and Amy Sample Ward. The cool thing is that Gunner is so incredibly well-connected. It's ridiculous really. Any time I find some awesome tech blog or hear about some nonprofit guru, he's like "sammy? yeah, he can throw down whiskey like water..."

I'm only now feeling up-to-speed on things in the nonprofit technology arena enough to talk about it on my own when people ask me things like "What are your thoughts on Joomla vs. Drupal?" or "Why is it bad to use Google docs/apps exclusively for my organization?" It's a nice feeling to know that i can actually help people on my own now. But at the same time, i feel kind of like 5 months behind. I just think about what I could be doing now if I came into the job with the knowledge that i have now. but on second thought, i guess that's the same for any job, for anyone, ever.

We've also been trying to up our social media presence with me pulling official Social Source Commons Twitter duty ( as well as branching out commenting in the blogosphere (Amy Sample Ward's blog is awesome and she might be the nicest person on earth). I realize more and more about how just being a social media person for your organization can be a full time job. There's so much to read, so many conversations to get involved in on Twitter, blogs, mailing lists... I don't know how Beth Kanter does it...

I've decided to organize my work schedule as kind of a regular week routine with designated days and times of day to do certain things so we'll see how good I am at organizing work stuff instead of getting to stuff as it comes. I'll let you know how it goes (because let's face it, you're all dying to know). Anyway, don't cry for me Argentina. The truth is i never left you.

Comment from Julia Taylor on January 7, 2009 - 3:57pm

so I'm wondering...WHY is it bad to use Google docs/apps exclusively for my organization?


Comment from Matthew Garcia on January 7, 2009 - 5:02pm

We do a lot of work with organizations that have sensitive information (e.g. immigrant-advocate groups that have alien-status info and stuff like that or direct-action protest groups) and Google has been known to fork over that info when court-ordered. There have also been a few situations like this:

where a gmail account is just deleted. Bam. Gone. This case here is really a matter of always backing up your email/information but you get the picture. For many MANY things, Google produces the best option for a given SaaS but your data isn't safe from the government (insert paranoid catch phrase here) and sometimes it's not even safe from Google. But for the most part Google Docs is a GREAT option for nonprofits as long as they realize that there is a legitimate possibility of loss and data getting into people's hands that they may not like.