New Orleans A little less than two months ago I got an email out of the blue from legendary internet and political organizer, Zack Exley. It was a one line note that said, essentially and in so few words: Wade, what the frick is wrong with your blog – I can’t make heads or tails of this!
We might be making a muck of it somehow, but I’m not stupid, and I knew immediately that if I had aroused some pique in Zack, there was trouble in web-land! So, I dusted myself right off and shot back a note with a big, fat HELP. Knowing Zack’s record both with SEIU years ago when he was a union organizer and more recently when he shook George W to his boots, then was organizing director for MoveOn, and so forth and so on with the New Organizing Institute and Thoughtworks, as he pioneered the use of the web and whatever as a top flight organizer, I knew if he didn’t get it, then no one probably did.
So, we immediately shut down the “mailer,” and asked Zack, what we needed to do better and how we could make this work?
To my delight a couple of days later I got a couple of pages of advice, constructive criticism, and, damn, even some encouragement. I was in India when all of this happened, so I walked around mulling over his email for a couple of weeks, but found a quick convert in Josh Stuart with ACORN Canada who volunteered (ok, was drafted and impressed into service, but had a good attitude about it) and also took the “exley memo” as his bible, and Mark Madere, our Crescent City comrade, friend, and true techster, who knew we needed to move from typo 3 to wordpress, but dreaded what it would take to move the content over. Between the three of us (well, mainly the two of them and of course Zack!), very, very quickly something radically different, and decidedly wonderful started to unfold, so that, voila, look what we have now for www.chieforganizer.org! We have the shape of things to come for one thing.
So what’s different besides the fact that it’s “easier on the eyes,” as one of my early testers said? We’ve added a “share” feature so that you can take it with you. We’ve linked to Tweeter and Facebook. The blankety-blank RSS feed finally works so that you can get the blog automatically. We have an easier and more attractive scroll down menu to look for the old archived blogs. We have tags. We have a “cloud” which lets you find common topics. The whole thing just plain works, and it’s a relief and no longer an embarrassment to me (or Zack Exley), but instead, as Zack counseled lets one immediately go to the blog or what you want. The old features that moved the reader to other writings, biography and so forth are in small boxes at the top. We are not finished, but boy are we happy with what we have now: an actual communication and organizing tool!
So, thanks Zack Exley for some real solidarity!
Many people might have looked at the mess we had gradually seen evolve in this website, and snickered and snorted, and turned away. Others might have taken a snide shot perhaps and then let it go. I would submit, that it was a rare act of solidarity in the organizing, and, dare I say, the virtual community, for someone to step up and say, hey, I can help, so I will help and see what those fools do with good and advice. In our case we appreciate great help, and set out to make it happen.
We’re open to good advice and constant comment. Sure improved the work we are doing here, and for that, here’s props, and another big fat thank you to Zack, and a big hope that all of the readers will enjoy the results as we reduce obstacles to the reading and then the reacting.