Yearly Archives: 2010

New Tool to Survey Vermonters

Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 by No comments yet

Many local government entities subscribe to Front Porch Forum’s pilot in northwest Vermont.  Hundreds of public officials are on board.

One municipality, a regional authority, used it this month to conduct a survey of the public and got about 300 people to complete their online questionnaire… about 1.5% of those who were asked.  To the question — What’s your preferred way to hear news from us? — nearly half answered Front Porch Forum… outpacing other options, such as the newspaper.  Of course, I’d expect a good response, given that they found these survey respondents through FPF.  Regardless, glad to hear the results.  And interested to see folks using FPF to survey Vermonters.

Duping by the crowd vs. building community among neighbors

Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 by No comments yet

Greg Sterling blogged today (in part)…

The Sunday Times in the UK writes that Yell employees wrote 6,700 reviews for the site (TrustedPlaces) in a month for an internal contest. According to secondary reports:

Staff at the firm’s Reading HQ were encouraged to write reviews for the company’s website Trusted Places – a site boasting user-generated recommendations of places to visit – by the offer of prizes such as an iPad and Amazon vouchers, according to the Sunday Times.

The article and information are presented as something of an expose or scandal. However I don’t necessarily agree. If the reviews are real and authentic they’re not illegitimate in my mind. But it’s a close call…

Well… I’m not sure how 6,700 reviews written by paid staff for some kind of internal contest could be considered “real and authentic.”  More importantly, this fuels a not uncommon suspicion that many online reviews are B.S.  It’s just too easy to stack the deck with reviews from people who have a stake in the business being reviewed or in the host site itself.

We often hear from people who place a high value on reviews read on Front Porch Forum.  They use terms like “real” and “authentic” because that’s what they are… postings from clearly identified nearby neighbors typically offered in response to a request from a neighbor… “can anyone recommend a good plumber?”

Also, each recommendation is seen by everyone in the neighborhood, not just those few who happen to be searching for a plumber.  This leads to  conversation among neighbors… sometimes on FPF, often via email, and even more commonly face-to-face.

So… a huge database of potentially bogus reviews from strangers… vs. a few reviews from clearly identified nearby neighbors that lead to conversations among neighbors on the sidewalk.  Two different propositions.

Mark Suster on Social Networking

Posted on Monday, December 6, 2010 by No comments yet

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Mark Suster open his blog post today with …

What I want to answer with this post (long though it may be) is:

  • Why did Web 2.0 emerge and are there any lessons to be gained about the future? [cheap accessible digital hardware]
  • Why did Twitter emerge despite Facebook’s dominance? [asymmetry, real-time, curated RSS / link-sharing]
  • Why did MySpace lose to Facebook & what can Twitter learn from this? [encouraging an open platform where 3rd parties can make lots of money]
  • Does Facebook have a permanent dominance of the future given their 500m users? [chuckle. ask microsoft, aol/time warner & google]
  • What are the big trends that will drive the next phase of social networks? [mobile, locations, layering of services, data management, portability & more]

An excellent piece… worth the whole read.  Shortened version here… and full version here.

Where do social enterprises fit on the spectrum of organizations?

Posted on Friday, December 3, 2010 by No comments yet

Front Porch Forum is a mission-drive for-profit business located in Vermont.  Once a year, we ask our tens of thousands of member households to consider chipping in $10 to $100 as a contribution to help us maintain, improve and expand FPF.  This is strictly voluntary… FPF is a free service.  It’s also not a charitable contribution, nor is it tax deductible.

This puts FPF in a position unfamiliar to many… “is FPF a charity or a business?”  We’ve heard that more than once.  We know that the economy and world are more complex than that.  That’s why this graphic found today on Working Wikily appeals to me.  It’s from Canada’s Social Innovation Generation‘s Task Force on Social Finance report: Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Good.

I’d say FPF is in the “social purpose business” to “socially responsible business” range.

Vermont Citizens in a Connected Age Workshop Dec. 11

Posted on Monday, November 29, 2010 by No comments yet

The Citizens in a Connected Age workshop advances the computer and Internet skills learned through the Vermont State Colleges and Vermont Small Business Development Center courses offered in each e-Vermont project town.

However, ANY Vermonter with basic computer skills can attend this workshop!

Learn About

  • Website communication tools.
  • Social media – strategies for incorporating it into a business, government or personal life, with computer lab time.
  • Troubleshooting technology – how to diagnose a problem with applications.
  • Data security – backing up data, protecting private information.
  • Marketing a business online.
  • Google applications – why use Google apps, with computer lab time.
  • Weighing the risks and benefits of online financial transactions.
  • Digital storytelling for educators.
  • Best practices for e-government websites.

When and Where

  • Saturday, December 11, 2010
  • 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Castleton State College, Castleton, Vermont
  • $10 registration fee – includes course offerings, refreshments and lunch.
  • Options for online registration: pay by credit card online, or register online and pay at the door. We cannot accept credit cards at the workshop.
  • Download the workshop poster (pdf).

For more information

Contact Joanna Cummings, e-Vermont Community Coordinator: