(originally posted on my Corante blog)
I like the New Organizing Institute. They’re bringing much needed coherence to technology training for the political Left by running a series of technology trainings for future staffers for Democratic political campaigns I expect better tool choices, more effective use of said tools, and greater collaboration between Democratic campaigns to result.
However, NOI initially also received some mixed reviews on their trainings, particularly from those of us outside the Beltway. The complaints that reached the ear of this author might be characterized as "too many heads talking about traditional techniques, not enough focus on the bleeding edge of online organizing techniques, and not enough opportunity for dialogue." A lot of Net, but perhaps not enough authentic NetRoots.
While I haven’t attended an NOI training and thus can’t pass judgment, I was thrilled to hear recently about their embrace of one of the leading-edge training methodologies to emerge from the Web 2.0 world over the past 18 months– the "open space unconference" approach to collaborative learning, and, specifically one of its leading lights, BarCamp.
THE GOAL: Bring together smart and accomplished progressive campaigners to draw lessons from the 2006 elections — everyone from precinct captains to national message consultants. In other words, a true, no-holds-barred, post-election debrief from the people who Just Did It, and a jump-start on Doing It Better for 2008.
In the weeks immediately following November 7th, RootsCamps will be held in cities across the country. In the spirit of BarCamp, they will be open to anyone. Simply sign up on the wiki.
I view this as a critical next step in the maturation of the Netroots towards being one of the most powerful campaign constituencies any Democrat could hope to engage. In the words of the RootsCamp wiki itself:
"…just as the transparency of the blogosphere has forced the mainstream media to acknowledge new realities, we’re hoping that RootsCamp will have the same effect upon the world of electoral campaigning."
The value of NOI’s stock just exploded in my book.