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Susan Chavez is a blogger for TechSoup's Online Community team.
San Francisco NetSquared (Net2)
kicked off its 2012 Meetup line up with Craig Newmark, of Craigslist and craigconnects, who talked about using
technology for the common good.
Speaking to the packed house at TechSoup's San Francisco headquarters, Newmark, a self-described
nerd, recounted his path from Craigslist to his latest endeavor, craigconnects.
Newmark also spoke at length about the potential for good created by
technology, why it matters and how anyone can contribute.
The growth of Craigslist opened up
many circles for Newmark, including that of the nonprofit world. While it
would’ve been very easy to use his influence and remain in the world of
technology, Newmark went in a slightly different direction. The direction he
chose, to help support nonprofits and grassroots causes, drew on his strengths
Newmark’s first foray into the nonprofit world was the launch of
the Craigslist Foundation, which itself launched the Nonprofit Boot Camp, but is organizationally winding down after many years of success in connecting social change organizations and technology. Working
in this capacity, as Newmark sees it, is naturally aligned with his role as the creator of and currently works
customer service representative of Craigslist.
Currently, Newmark has focused his
directions on craigconnects. Craigconnects focuses on six core issues: military
families and veterans, accurate and honest journalistic practices, public
diplomacy, open government, consumer protection, and technology for the common
The organization has worked on projects such as helping a local Veterans
Affairs hospital improve its technological infrastructure to serve veterans
more efficiently. Craigsconnect has also supported the Tenderloin Tech Lab, a
computer lab that serves low-income and homeless people in San Francisco.
Newmark believes in harnessing the
power of technology to amplify voices not otherwise heard and redistributing
access to power equitably. Much like the printing press, technology has the
potential to democratize access to learning and speech. Access to the Internet
and social media lowers barriers to supporting causes and organizations.
about anyone can easily support causes according to Newmark. Helping can be as
simple as teaching someone how to use a computer, get online or help build a
Facebook fan page. By way of example, Newmark shared how he uses Twitter to
mostly tweet and retweet in support of causes and organizations he feels
Technology provides an opportunity
to generate grassroots solutions and to judge what solutions are working best.
Methods for measuring effectiveness matter because 501(c)(3) status isn't enough
to indicate an organization is really fulfilling its mission. And not to let
the audience off the hook, Newmark good-naturedly advised to “be as transparent
as you can be without doing something stupid."
Newmark closed by sharing
his vision, “that ordinary people working together en masse are going to change
the world in this decade.” That vision, coupled with the energy in the room,
made for a great ending to the night and a good outlook for 2012.
Photos: SF NetSquared Meetup
Susan ChavezOnline Community & Social Media Team, TechSoup Global@Susan_Chavez
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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