Heads up, this content is 13 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

A recent Facebook-based conversation with Susan Mernit got me thinking about my place in feminism and technology.

I started to argue that “I’m not a feminist tech geek.” I play along with the male-dominated industry by adopting the behaviors of the men around me. I have a history of working on all-male teams and being treated as “one of them” rather than as “the woman.” You’ll find me in a button-down shirt, but you won’t find me in a dress. I expect the same respect and treatment as any man, and I nip any potentially sexist situation in the bud before it escalates. I have a firm handshake, I look people in the eye, I speak with confidence, and I refuse to be pidgeonholed by my gender.

And yeah, okay, I guess that could make me a feminist tech geek.

Argument lost.

Heads up, this content is 13 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

In my last post I talked about nonprofits using social media to reach their audiences — it’s inexpensive and effective. Unfortunately, I also know from personal experience that many people — especially in the nonprofit sector — don’t have time to sit down and learn the best strategies to leverage new technology. So let me lay out a few Cliffs Notes.

One of the cooler features of social media is that it allows you to keep an eye on what people are saying about you. If someone across the planet blogs about your organization, you can know about this almost instantaneously. If that blog post was favorable, you can jump right into the comments and thank them. If that blog post was unfavorable, you leap right into ‘damage control’ mode and address the complaint. If fact, you can do whatever you want with this feed of information once you’re receiving it. It’s kind of like a secret ninja move.

These are sometimes called “vanity feeds.” Here’s how to get them:

Technorati Feeds
Watch the blogs.

  1. Go to Technorati.com
  2. In the search box, type in your name or the name of your organization. If it’s more than one word, use quotation marks.
  3. The results that come up are what all of the publicly-indexed the blogs on the web are saying about you. Just above the search results, you should find a link that says “Subscribe.” Click it!
  4. What you’re looking at now is an RSS feed. You need to take the URL for this page and put it into an RSS reader, so you can be alerted when new things are added to it. If you’re not already using an RSS reader, go get an account with Google Reader and follow their instructions (it’s super easy).

Google Alerts
Watch the web.

  1. Go to Google.com/Alerts
  2. In the search box, type in your name or the name of your organization. If it’s more than one word, use quotation marks.
  3. Leave the search type drop-down at “Comprehensive,” unless you want to ignore some things and just focus on one area.
  4. Leave the “how often” at “once a day,” unless you really prefer otherwise.
  5. Type in your email address and hit “Create Alert.” You’ll get notifications of your presence on the web whenever it comes up.

Note: There’s some overlap between Google Alerts and Technorati — try both and see if you only feel like you need one of them after a few weeks. In my experience, Google Alerts will sometimes repeat the same alert over and over again, which can get annoying (and which is why I don’t recommend receiving Google Alerts “as it happens”). Technorati is a cleaner, more meaningful, and less invasive feed, but it also doesn’t cover the entire web.

Knowing about your reputation on the web is a key step in gaining control of it. But be careful not to get too addicted to watching these feeds… you still have other work to do.

Heads up, this content is 13 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

Beth Kanter (the heavyweight champion in getting technology into the hands of nonprofits) points out some new research to us today. Well, actually it’s more like a sneak preview of new research — which, of course, is even better.

The research shows us that large nonprofits are adopting social media more readily than Fortune 500 companies. They define social media as online video, blogging, social networking, podcasting, message boards, and wikis; and they also note that nonprofits are monitoring their reputation on the web more carefully than businesses are.

It makes perfect sense. Utilizing social media is an inexpensive and trust-driven way to reach lots of people. I hope awareness of how to use these tools effectively is also trickling down to the smaller nonprofits — the ones who need it the most.

You can download the four-page executive summary from UMass Dartmouth.