Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Theatre and Technology – Together?

Does this sound like an oxymoron or what? Theatre and technology together on one stage? Well you heard correct. Last night, PICnet DC employees got to see The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a monologue performed by the incredibly talented Mike Daisey. And to say that this performance made me think more about technology, how we communicate with one other, as well as labor practices in China, is an understatement. Read more »


We’re Quarterly Connecting!

With offices in Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA, as well as having remote workers in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland, sometimes it’s hard for all of us PICnetters to connect. That’s why late last year, Ryan, the CEO and founder of PICnet, came up with the brilliant idea of getting us all together once a quarter. These soon dubbed “Quarterly Connects” are opportunities for the PICnet team to gather for a full day of strategic planning, reflection, and goal setting. Plus, they’re a chance for us to catch up with one another face-to-face instead of via skype.

I’m excited for our second Quarterly Connect of 2011 which will occur on Tuesday, April 12. Most of the team will arrive Monday night, which I’m sure will lead to an impromptu after-work outing, but the real fun begins on Tuesday morning when we will begin the first of five sessions before wrapping things up at 5:00 pm. It’ll definitely be interesting to find out what’s in store for PICnet in the second quarter of 2011!

If you’re wondering about our office hours for next Tuesday (April 12), we at PICnet will be officially closed with staff having limited access to phone and email but will, of course, handle urgent support requests expediently.


PICnet at the StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation

I promise the reason I left dreary Washington, D.C. behind for 5 days in Los Angeles wasn’t just that it was 70 degrees in mid-February.  Rather, it was the chance to connect with 100 young social innovators from around the world all convening in Santa Monica to discuss trends in social entrepreneurship.  Okay, so the weather didn’t hurt, but I swear it was the chance to learn and grow as a social entrepreneur that inspired me to go.

I was honored to be selected as a StartingBloc fellow, and am incredibly grateful to PICnet for supporting my attendance at their social innovation summit.  In attendance were social entrepreneurs representing six continents, multiple countries, numerous sectors and cause areas, and myriad life experiences.  What connected us all, though, was our passion to employ the toolkit of entrepreneurship to improving the world around us.  From the social entrepreneur addressing sanitation issues in slums in his native India, to a recently-returned Haiti volunteer dedicating his career to teaching others the Creole language to promote cross-cultural communication, the ideas were big, and the action even bigger. Read more »


Gazing from the cloud toward the horizon

Not long ago, I stood on a hill that rose above Berkeley’s campus on the East Bay, gazing out at an utterly arresting sunset transforming downtown San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge with a dramatic mix of color and shadow. It was an entirely unexpected sight, a vista that sprung out of nowhere, a short twisting drive from the campus below.

Sunset over San Francisco, (c) Fertile Photography

Sunset over San Francisco, © Fertile Photography

One minute, my vision was confined to a few yards here and there amongst buildings and trees. The next, it was embracing a kaleidoscope whose horizon reached across the mighty Pacific Ocean with wisps of cloud eventually making their way from scenic tableau to my feet on the hill as the sun sunk below the horizon.

It was an appropriate setting. I had come with Ryan and Melanie for Dreamforce, a conference put on by Salesforce. Salesforce is the world’s leading cloud-based customer relationship management tool as well as PICnet’s current development obsession as we build connections between it and Non-Profit Soapbox and Joomla! We had come for knowledge and inspiration on how to continue transforming that obsession into truly innovative and powerful tools for nonprofits. And sitting on the cloud gave some welcome perspective.

As I write this, I sit thousands of feet above the earth, carried along through the clouds on my flight to the Pacific Northwest to enjoy the holidays with family as PICnet closes shop for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Soon I will see the Space Needle from the window of the plane and, not far from its base, the rim of Elliott Bay where I last worked for a great nonprofit organization, cobbling together bits of technical knowledge and tools as an accidental techie to serve our mission the best I could.

As I reflect on PICnet’s purpose making nonprofits more effective, and the former nonprofits I worked for, and the conference, and the progress we’ve made during the closing year, and the promise of the year to come, my eyes again glimpse the horizon stretching out ahead and I am cheered by the vista of the possible.

May this holiday season find your heart filled with warmth and peace and may it grant you a bit of height above the daily grind to glimpse the horizon of the possible for the coming year. For our nonprofit clients, we’re excited to help you get there!


‘Tis the Season: For Happy Hours

As some of you may know, I am now in charge of the NTEN happy hours. NTEN is an organization that focuses on connecting technology to non-profits.  Even though they are headquartered on the west coast, they have chapters all over the U.S. who gather for educational activities, professional development, and social functions.  Our next monthly happy hour will be on Thursday, December 9 at Mad Hatter on Connecticut Ave.  As a bonus to get into the holiday giving spirit, we’re having a winter weather clothing drive. Please participate!  For more details, see below.

Please Join Us for an NTEN Winter Wonderland Happy Hour

What: NTEN’s December Happy Hour
When: Thursday, December 9, 2010
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Where: Mad Hatter – 1321 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
BONUS – PLEASE HELP: We’re having a WINTER WEATHER CLOTHING DRIVE - bring your scarves, gloves, and hats to help the homeless! The first 30 people to donate will receive a free happy hour drink on NTEN.

Want to check out the happy hour specials? Click here.

I hope to see you there!


Putting NYC Charter Schools on the map

The NYC Charter School Center believes that charters are one tool to help build and maintain a great system of public schools for all children in NYC.  They serve as a resource for connecting those schools and the community.

When they approached us about enhancing the site we launched with them earlier this year by creating an interactive, easy-to-manage map that allowed parents to find schools, we jumped at the chance.

Enter Soapbox Mapper, a new tool developed as a powerful add on for the Soapbox platform.  With Soapbox Mapper, parents can search through more than 130 schools by name, location, grade level, school district, and borough quickly and easily to find the right school for their child.

NYC Charter School mapInterested in putting the power of Soapbox Mapper on your site? Contact us to find out more!


Soapbox Throwdown: Votes are in, results have been tallied

The Vote

Three contestants entered. Three sites were featured. Voters flocked to the polls and the results have been tallied:

Soapbox Throwdown Results

The Sites

Sustainable Sudamerica 41%: A socially-responsible business emphasizing environmental sustainable travel, Sustainable Sudamerica offers treks throughout South America.

Bread & Hope 33.3%: Operating in Washington D.C., Bread & Hope provides short-term assistance and long-term strategies out of poverty for those in our nation’s capital.

Truth and Justice Foundation 25.6%: The Truth and Justice Foundation is an internationally-focused organization promoting the rule of law across the globe.

The Contestants

The Victor Alex Budak The Natural Quickly on his way to a Rookie of the Year fall season, the kid lived up to his potential in nabbing first place with Sustainable Sudamerica.

The Middle of the Pack Tim Forbes The Wiley Veteran Not spry enough to claim top prize but wiley and cunning enough to avoid putting his vocal chords on the line, the gray beard of the bunch showed that guile and trickery have their place in the Throwdown with Bread & Hope.

The Songbird Tony Larson The Woolliest PICnetter Like Samson, Larson may have lost valuable strength for the contest with the shearing of his once woollier locks in offering the Truth and Justice Foundation.

The Song

Will it be Bohemian Rhapsody? Baby Got Back? Hips Don’t Lie? Tune in tomorrow to the blog for the answer and the vocal stylings of Mr. Tony Larson.


Soapbox Throwdown: Voting closes at noon ET today

The time is nigh to decide victor and vanquished in the inaugural Soapbox Throwdown. Let your voice be heard!

VOTE NOW before polls close at noon Eastern.


New Site Launch: Who’s Watching What? GAP – Food Integrity Campaign

dinner-pizzaEver wonder which government agencies oversee the items that end up on your dinner table? Well, as you may have guessed, the answer to that question isn’t so simple. For example, a slice of pizza? Well that depends on whether the slice has meat on it or not. I’m no expert on the matter, so let me leave it to the folks at the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign to explain:

Easy one! The FDA. Wait, the USDA! Wait! Actually, it depends on what’s on your pizza. Does your pizza have meat on it? If so, the USDA is regulating it. Plain cheese? The FDA gets that slice of the pie! Under the system, each agency performs its own pizza inspections. The USDA inspects meat pizza plants daily. Meanwhile, the FDA will inspect the same plant’s cheese pizza every one to five years. Does that make any sense?

Hmm, yeah, I’m still confused, but that’s the point! That’s why I’m so glad to roll out the red carpet for one of our newest Soapbox sites:!

For those of you keeping track, you may remember was mentioned here a little less than a year ago when we launched their main soapbox site. That’s why we were so pleased when the Government Accountability Project approached us shortly thereafter about putting together a second site for their new Food Integrity Campaign. Anytime an existing client comes back looking for additional work, we couldn’t be happier, but in this case I was double excited just because it seemed like such a fun project. Read more »


Soapbox Throwdown: Voting is Now Open!

The sites are done. The contestants nervously pace the greenroom. Their fate now rests in the hands of YOU, the voting public.  You will determine who receives glory and admiration heretofore unknown in the annuls of PICnet history.  You will destine who will sing before the cruel, unfeeling eye of the internet.

The Contest

The inaugural Soapbox Throwdown pits PICnetter against PICnetter in a timed duel of Soapbox proficiency.  Equipped with a common template, a fictional organization, and the tools in Soapbox, contestants had only one day to create a site. Time constraints were held to with strict precision.  Contestants were highly encouraged to use the range of products available in Soapbox, including Soapbox Events, Soapbox Mapper, Jobline, Soapbox Slideshow, and Soapbox Donations.

The Contestants

Alex Budak The Natural PICnet’s number one draft pick of the fall season, the kid brings a hunger and native facility for the challenge that strikes fear into his competitors.

Tim Forbes The Wiley Veteran The gray beard of the bunch, what he lacks in energy or the base ability to string coherent sentences together, he attempts to make up for in guile and trickery.

Tony Larson The Woolliest PICnetter Former recipient of the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company’s Woolliest Washingtonian award, Larson’s commitment to head-to-head – or hair-to-hair – competition is legendary.

The Sites

Bread & Hope: Operating in Washington D.C., Bread & Hope provides short-term assistance and long-term strategies out of poverty for those in our nation’s capital.

Sustainable Sudamerica: A socially-responsible business emphasizing environmental sustainable travel, Sustainable Sudamerica offers treks throughout South America.

Truth and Justice Foundation: The Truth and Justice Foundation is an internationally-focused organization promoting the rule of law across the globe.

The Voting

Here’s what we ask of you:

  1. Review the sites
  2. Choose your favorite
  3. VOTE!