Achieving High Web Advocacy Proficiency

 

By Ralph Benko and William Collier

 

 

 

Training presented for:

GrassRoots East Social Media Training,

Haddam, Connecticut, March 19, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2016 by Regal Blue Media and World Wide Websters Enterprises

 

Licensed for use under Creative Commons License BY-ND-NC.

(This means you can copy it and give it away so long as you give us full credit as the writers, don’t change it, and only do so for noncommercial purposes.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Achieving High Web Advocacy Proficiency:

 

By Ralph Benko and William Collier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

APPLY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 1: MoveOn.org has 8 million members. You don’t. Why is that?

 

  • org was launched in 6 days at no cost.
  • It was built using a very primitive form of Web language called Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) by two retired geeks at no cost from home.
  • (One of those geeks is now one of my (Ralph’s) dearest friends. She’s still a left wing nut. I’m still a right wing nut. You got a problem with that you can leave right now.
  • They sent out a petition and invitation to their friends. This is what it said: “The Congress must immediately Censure President Clinton and Move On to pressing issue facing the country.”
  • Within a short time, without advertising or promotion of any kind, they had a list of 500,000.
  • After Clinton survived impeachment, and after 9/11 teenager named Eli Pariser sent out a comparably brief petition calling for America not to invade Iraq.
  • Within a few weeks, without advertising or promotion of any kind, he had a list of 500,000.
  • He merged, at their invitation, with MoveOn. One million members, and never looked back. (They now have 8 million members. 7,999,999 left wing nuts and one dissident member. Me.
  • When the pro-life Susan B. Anthony list asked us, in 2008, to set up a social network in support of then VP-nominee Sarah Palin they were considering using a $10,000/month website. I asked them if they’d let me take a flyer. In an hour I — and I don’t know software code — none of them — set up a white label social network. Within a few weeks TeamSarah.org was getting a million pageviews a month.

 

This is not a fluke. Next we are going to tell you what not to do. Then we are going to tell you what to do. Then we are going to tell you who we are and why you can guess we actually know what we’re talking about, not just another couple fast-talking hustlers. (We’re that too. But we’re also a little bit more: the genuine article.)

 

MoveOn has 8 million members (who will mobilize and also contribute money.) Why don’t you?

 

Because you’re probably going about it all wrong. That’s why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 2: What MoveOn didn’t do. What Not To Do.

 

  • Here’s how not to do it.
  • We wouldn’t start there except pretty much everyone in the GOP and the conservative movement does it dead wrong.
  • Which is why there is no conservative MoveOn.
  • I got into this game to coach someone into creating a conservative MoveOn. Only twice as big.
  • So far, all you’ve done is break my heart.
  • But here goes.
  • Let’s see if we can brainwash at least some of the nonsense out of at least some of your heads. If so there’s a fighting chance we will be able to train you on what to do. Some of you, anyway. Maybe.
  • Number One With A Bullet: It’s not about the tech. Almost everyone overpays for ridiculously expensive sites with features they will never, ever, ever, use. (And shouldn’t).
  • Ted Cruz for President uses WordPress. We use WordPress. Anybody with half a wit uses WordPress. Stay away from expensive, cumbersome, overengineeered, overbuilt web platforms.
  • Number Two: The distinction isn’t in the tech.
  • It’s in the team. Almost everybody (on the right) overinvests in their tech and underinvests in their team. Meaning they don’t hire, treat well, or give authority to the right people to run their site ops.
  • The usual practice is to stick your comms director or press secretary with managing the website as a kind of tack on to her real job, issuing press releases (and talking, very rarely, to the occasional reporter).
  • This will not work. If you want it to work you need either to take charge of it yourself, working on it daily, for at least an hour every day. More preferably you will hire, or recruit someone, preferably a womyn, whose exclusive job is to provide content and promotion and community organizing for your website (as well as enlarging your footprint on Facebook and/or your own white label social network).
  • Then, assuming you get the formula right (and it works, which it doesn’t always), you’re on your way to World Domination. So, as potential World Dominators, first we require you to take an Oath.

 

 

 

 

Module 3: First, Take Your Websters’ Oath. Or step out of the room.

 

  • We’re sorry. But what we’re about to teach you is so frighteningly powerful that we require those who wish to be trained first to take a Solemn Oath or Affirmation to use their newfound powers Only For Good.
  • Anyone unwilling to commit to using their newfound powers Only for Good must now leave the room for 5 minutes. (We’ll let you back in starting with Module 5.)
  • All those willing to take the Websters’ Oath to use their newfound powers Only For Good, please stand up and raise your right hand.
  • The rest of you must leave for 5 minutes.
  • Sargent at Arms, kindly escort every able bodied man, woman, or child still sitting down, without their right arm raised, out of the room.
  • We’ll wait. We’ll tell you when to raise your right hand.
  • All right. Repeat after me:
  • I will use my newfound powers only for Good.
  • By the way, if you are watching this online, instead of in this world premier presentation, this applies to you.
  • And it’s not an Honor System. We have your ISP address. The Web’s kind of creepy that way. We, however, are harmless.
  • Unless you double cross us.
  • So don’t double cross us. Capeesh, paesano?
  • You now are all honorary members of The Noble Order of Websters.
  • The good news is there are no dues.
  • The bad news is there are no emoluments. It’s kind of like being a Selectman.
  • By the way, we patrol the Web.
  • If we catch you using your powers for Evil we have secret ways of making you regret having done so. You’ll never pin it on us.
  • So just use your newfound powers only for Good.
  • If you decide to go over the Dark Side of the Force, make darn sure you are being so overpaid that you can afford to bribe us lavishly to look the other way. Everybody has his price. We do too. Our price is so ridiculously high that nobody has ever paid it. We hope to change that.

 

 

Module 4: Here’s What MoveOn (and We) Did. What To Do.

 

  • Here it is. The H-bomb of Web Advocacy. Are you paying attention?
  • It’s brighter than a thousand suns. And it’s really simple.
  • If you blink you might miss it. That’s OK, we’ll repeat it. Ready?
  • No, you, there in the sixth row. Wake up!
  • Here it is.
  • The most powerful force in politics and civic life is Narrative. On the Web, that applies hundred times over.
  • MoveOn hooked into a great dramatic story. There’s a little more to it than that, but not much. It was the persecution of President Bill Clinton in an effort to impeach him for fairly minor peccadillos. (By the way, the very same peccadillos are mandatory for presidents of France.)
  • Then Eli Pariser hooked into a great narrative by opposing an American invasion of Iraq.
  • We hooked into a great narrative with the nomination of Gov. Palin for VP.
  • For advocacy to go viral, it has to be a great story, a great drama, a great narrative, and relevant to a lot of people.
  • Practically every conservative and ever Republican is dead hooked on describing, explaining, and arguing. To normal people, and even to us, describing, explaining, and arguing are incredibly boring.
  • In fact, the ancient Greeks taught that there were four kinds of rhetoric, three weak and one strong. They called description, explanation, and argumentation weak forms, and narration strong forms. We also say that declaration is strong.
  • Don’t believe us. Don’t even believe Aristotle. Check out the ratings for Celebrity Apprentice. Compare with the ratings for “the Documentary Channel.”
  • To grow big and powerful you need two more little things on top of narrative.
    • Marquee appeal. If it’s not on page one, above the fold, leading the nightly national news, day after day, it won’t scale.
    • A power vacuum. — The regular politicos are dodging it, leaving room for us regular people to swoop in and take over.
    • Web advocacy is not a spectator sport.

 

 

 

 

Module 5: Why Believe Us?

 

Don’t. We’re like the “Car Guys” … minus the radio show. We wouldn’t believe us. We don’t recommend that you do. Yet there’s actually evidence that we’re the top experts in this peculiar field. We’re going to lay out our credentials now. You Connecticut Yankees are the most skeptical folks in the world. At least people from Missouri believe it if you show them. Not you, no.

 

Before slogging through this dull part we will let you in on another little secret. “If people want to do something they’ll find a reason. If people don’t want to do something they’ll find an excuse.” So… if you don’t want to believe us, this would be a great time to slip away and save yourself from our unbelievable drivel. Go in peace. If you already believe us… slip out and get a cup of coffee or hit the restrooms. We promise not to say anything useful or interesting in Module 5. So … take 5.

Ralph Benko, of Washington, DC, is the author of The Websters’ Dictionary: how to use the Web to transform the World, (The Websters’ Press), 2010 winner of the Trophée du Choix des Internautes from the World e-Democracy Forum, awarded at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He was the network creator of the Susan B. Anthony List’s TeamSarah.org, recognized as the most successful center-right political social network of the 2008 presidential cycle. He wildly over-performed and undercharged for this thus becoming a pariah in the consultant class and was never allowed near another presidential campaign’s Web operations. And probably never will be again. Bad luck for him. Possibly lucky for you.

He is a public policy advocate.  He was an attorney-advisor/finance in the US Department of Energy from which he was detailed to be a deputy general council to two presidential agencies during the Reagan administration: The President’s Commission on Privatization and The White House Conference on a Drug Free America.

Benko serves as senior advisor, economics to the nonprofit American Principles Project and is a principal member of the team behind nonprofit LivingRoomConversations.org.  He is a weekly contributor to the online edition of a leading financial magazine and contributes regularly to other publications such as TheHill.com, RollCall.com, NationalInterest.com and the Huffington Post. He served as the editor of The Lehrman Institute’s http://thegoldstandardnow.org for which he was nominated, in 2014, nonprofit Blogger of the Year. He lost to The Yid With A Lid.

The impact of web-based “think tanks” is reflected in the viewership of articles in Forbes.com. One example is Ralph Benko’s piece on bullet purchases by the government. He received many more unique visits (almost a million views) than what the website of his think tank receives in a year. … This impact leads to a simple conclusion: To be effective in their advocacy efforts, as well as to promote their own research to wider audiences, think tanks need to develop relationships with these web-mavericks and online editors.

The above also leads to a second challenge for think tank managers: learn how to better capture the web traffic of some of your “stars.” As with Benko …, it is not uncommon for talented individuals to outperform their own organizations.

Benko is a member of the Conservative Action Project, a group of 100 many premier conservative leaders. He has served in an advisory capacity to many nonprofit civic organizations, especially in the field of Web-based advocacy. He is a widely recognized expert in supply-side economics and founded the Prosperity Caucus. He is admitted to the bar of the State of New York, and is retired from that.

Bill Collier is a Web designer and developer with extensive experience in new media, including member enrollment, community governance, and mobilization.  His behind-the-scenes work has proved significant to some of the major political developments of our time. 

Collier developed the website for The Committee To Unleash Prosperity, the preeminent “supply side portal” for an organization of which Steve Forbes, Art Laffer, Steve Moore, and Larry Kudlow are the principals. He has developed domains for for TeamRockMinistry.com and, in eCommerce for HypnoticCharisma.com, among others.

Collier was instrumental in #DONTGO, the immediate precursor to the Tea Party movement. #DONTGO was an online mobilization portal and, in its day, the most effective such in the center right. Collier played a key role in supporting efforts to organize the very first TEA PARTY events. His mobilization, rapid response teams, and developing pop-up web properties materially added to the Tea Party’s original influence and whose reach extended to effecting White House action.

Collier was the chief community manager for Team Sarah, a social network recognized as the most successful (1 million page views a month) conservative white label political social network of the 2008 presidential election cycle. Collier devised and implemented the moderation and mobilization standards and was in charge of neutralizing attacks by political adversaries (“trolls”).

Collier co-founded the Freedomist which led to the creation of a digital newspaper, The Tioga Freedomist. Under his management this drew over 1 million page views a month, becoming the, dominant news source for its county and environs The Drudge Report, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh referenced some of the original Freedomist’s news stories. Collier recently resumed an active role for Freedomist.com, from which he had taken a leave in which to establish a new company, and is working with his partners rapidly rebuilding, and monetizing, traffic there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 6: Your Network.

 

Networking:

 

Real World: You may know a lot of people in real life and on Facebook. You think they are your friends. You might be right. If you think they are your allies, though, you’re almost certainly wrong.

 

Your friends are way too busy to materially bother themselves with helping you out significantly with your latest mania, however they may humor you. They might “Like” your Facebook page about it. They might even sign a petition. That’s pretty much the extent of it.

 

Unless someone is crazy enough to be willing to spend twenty minutes, or more, a day, actually working on your project — they are under no obligation to do so and there’s no reason they should — their support is as valuable as an air kiss from a Eurotrash Baroness.

 

Give it up. Don’t expect your friends to help.

Don’t be a bore by nagging or begging. Give it up.

 

Seek allies elsewhere. Like on Facebook.

 

Virtual: This, of course, means Facebook. The general rule of thumb is ancient but true- he who would be the master of all must be the servant of all. In other words, if you want to have allies and connections, go out and serve, do good for others.

 

  1. Add value to other groups and forums with interesting comments and content
  2. Promote and talk about other people, and let them know
  3. Use tagging functions in Facebook or other web 2.0 properties to get people attention
  4. Like other pages as your own page
  5. Always give recognition to people- elevate them and they will lift you up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 7: Exposure

 

Exposure means getting yourself into the legacy media like newspapers, TV, radio, and other bloggers. Or using clever tricks to help people find you when they are Googling or Yahooing around looking for the kind of thing you’re doing.

 

There are three ways to do this.

 

First: squander an unbelievable amount of money on advertising, especially buying Google Adwords which will drive up your traffic. This is called artificial or forced traffic. It’s really, really great for your ego, especially if you don’t really understand this game. It’s not really good for much else in the advocacy sector.

 

Second: there is what is called “earned media,” where you get a reporter or columnist to write about you.

 

Unless you catch lightning in a bottled, which is web geek speak for the equivalent of hitting the Web equivalent of the Powerball … with a similarly astronomical odds against you … getting noticed in the media is:

 

1) Hard.

2) Time consuming to make happen.

3) Will drive only a tiny amount of traffic to your site most of which won’t sign up or ever come back.

 

Also, don’t be shocked when other conservatives or bloggers don’t run your press releases, don’t write about you in their blogs, and don’t mention you in their news stories or columns. You’re probably not interesting to their readers.

 

Third: Use a specialist who will, for a modest sum, redo your website so it doesn’t put the bots and spiders right to sleep. Then she will help you do Search Engine Optimization, called SEO, to gain a higher page rank. This will make you a trusted source to Google’s scoring system. If you do that your organic traffic will soar. “Organic” means people who are authentically interested, not clickbaited in by curiosity never to return. Watch the number of people signing up multiply like loaves and fishes. Become MoveOn 2.0!

 

 

 

 

Module 8: Traffic Through Authenticity and Diligence, SEO 2.0.

 

Warning. Web visibility today mostly is based on your authenticity and your diligence and your freshness. Can’t be gamed. Unless you are prepared to post fresh content — even a little bit — every day or twice a day… give it up.

 

Save your money. Web advocacy really isn’t for you.

 

If you’re passionate, and if you’re diligent, and if you are willing to work at your cause almost every day, at least for an hour, or pay someone to do so, you might actually be cut out for the Web advocacy game.

 

If so, here’s what you need to know about bringing hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands, if you’re good enough and committed enough, hundreds of thousands or even millions of people to you. And stick.

 

SEO is not merely search engine optimization. It is public relations and messaging measured by search engine rankings. Getting ranked high for the right phrases and getting traffic that converts to donors, volunteers, and votes is the fruit of a good content creation and site design process. This involves but is not limited to:

 

  1. Knowing the type of things you want to be known for to the right audience
  2. Getting your website design and content in the right place with the right information
  3. Creating ongoing on-site content
  4. Using social network properties to push your content, and create social signals (e.g. people liking and sharing)
  5. Getting content shared and re-posted on other websites and blogs, this involves building a relationship with websites and bloggers!
  6. Monitoring your keywords on a daily basis and making adjustments
  7. Staying on top of search engine “rules of the road” (algorithms) for getting the right attention from their spiders- and keeping your content user friendly and accessible

 

 

 

 

 

Module 9: Here’s everything we’ve taught you so far. And a little more.

 

Here we boil all six factors down into a cutesy acronym. Write this down.

 

NetSquared.

NN, EE, TT.

NetSquared.

 

We don’t usually stutter. You Nutmeggers make us nervous.

 

N: Narrative

N: Networking

E: Exposure

E: Exhortation (also known as the “Call to Action”).

T: Team

T: Tech

 

Narrative is the most crucial. If you have, or formulate, a dramatic story, one that people care about, feel deeply about, and are motivated by, you have a fighting chance. If not, there’s nothing we can do for you.

 

In a narrative you are, or are telling a story about, a good guy, against a bad guy, with high stakes, no prisoners, and an opportunity for your audience to engage, at least vicariously put preferably by responding to a Call To Action.

 

Networks? You will have to build your network from scratch. Get over it.

 

Use SEO 2.0 for Exposure. Don’t waste money on advertising. Don’t waste energy pursuing “earned media.” Use SEO.

 

The Exhortation, or Call to Action. Give people something quick and easy to do that can make a difference. Like signing a petition. That gives them dignity.

 

Team is the next most important thing. Train them. Give them authority. Treat them with dignity. Pay them well. They’ll work miracles for you.

 

Tech. The least important, least exotic, most overrated aspect of this.   Don’t fall for bright shiny objects. They’re almost always overpriced, hard to use, and rarely get the job done.

 

 

Module 10: The Websters’ Twelve Laws.

 

Here are a dozen high impact trade secrets.

 

This is an overview. We’re going to use the following 12 modules to break these down one by one and go into the specifics of each one. So … relax.

 

Yes, we know. There were only Ten Commandments. And only Ten Amendments in the Bill of Rights. We have twelve. We’ll let you in on a little secret here. The Authors of these other iconic works finessed you. They split up some commandments and ran some rights together into one. “Thou shalt not covet they neighbors house. Or wife. Or servant.” “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, or of the press, etc.” Kind of a BOGO.

 

We could have used finesse and given you Ten. We didn’t. Get over it.

The Webster’s Twelve Laws

 

  1. Pulitzer’s Law: “Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so that they will remember it, and above all accurately so they will be guided by its light.”

The very best “mission statement” for the Web, composed an eon ago, still applies.

 

And the Webster’s corollary: Give them easy, simple, direct ways by which their voices may be heard and by which they can, individually and in concert, take action.


  1. Nast’s Law and (Boss Tweed’s Complaint):
    “They can see pictures.”

    As Boss Tweed famously said, “Stop them damn pictures. I don’t care so much what the papers write about me. My constituents can’t read. But, damn it, they can see pictures.”


The Webster says:
Use compelling graphics. (Public Domain, Creative Commons, or Licensed. Don’t infringe copyrighted materials, especially images. Ever.)

  1. Clarke’s Second Law: “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

 

Credits: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

 

The Webster says: Learn from our predecessors, but try new things and find out what works now.

 

  1. Beecher’s Law: “No great advance has ever been made in science, politics, or religion, without controversy.

 

The Webster says: Controversy is golden – interesting, draws attention, drives traffic, and excites the community. But use common decency.

 

  1. Lazarus’s Law: “Unleash the imprisoned lightning.”

    On the Statue of Liberty is engraved a sonnet by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus.

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles….

photo credit: by Ed Schipul, Flickr.com Under Creative Commons License.

The Webster says: The Web can be our means of unleashing “the imprisoned lightning” of millions whose voices have been exiled and who deserve to be heard.


  1. Metcalfe’s Law:
    “The value of a communication system grows at approximately the square of the number of nodes of the system.

source: A Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community: The Wiki and the Blog, by D. Calvin Andrus, Center for the Study of Intelligence vol 49. no. 3, CIA. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=755904

A single telephone or a single fax machine has no communication value. Two phones have a little value. A thousand phones have real value. A hundred thousand has great value. A million or more, extraordinary value.

The Webster says: The more people we enroll and connect with one another, the more powerful we become.

  1. Bianchini’s law of Viral Loops: “When your currency is ideas, people become emotionally attached.”

Photo credit: Martin Fisch, Flickr Under Creative Common License.

“Chen calls a viral loop the ‘most advanced direct-marketing strategy being developed in the world right now.’ *** [I]f you create something people really want, need, or merely enjoy, then your customers will grow your business for you. Users, just by using a product, are, in essence, offering a testimonial ‘When your currency is ideas, people become emotionally attached,’ Ning’s Bianchini says. ‘Then you become a public utility like Blogger, YouTube, or Facebook.'” (Emphasis supplied.) Source: FastCompany.com


The Webster says:
Offer something people really want, need or enjoy.

 

  1. Hoffman’s Law: “If you ship your product and you’re not a little ashamed of it, you shipped too late.”

 

photo credit: Bithead’s photostream, Flickr

 

The Webster says: You can always tweak the design as you go along, but your content is durable — and is what will bring visitors to, and back to, your site.

 

  1. Trippi’s Law: If you pay attention to the community you’re building, then the community will step up and do the work.

 

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chatiryworld. Under Creative Commons License.

 

The Webster says: The essence of the modern Web – and of developing the power to transform the world – resides in building community rather than broadcasting information.

  1. Blades’ Law: “We need women in leadership and specifically, we need mothers.”

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Carlo Crivelli, Madonna con bambino, ca. 1470, detail

 

The Webster says: empirical review of all advocacy Web 2.0 success stories show women in positions of authority. (Most women intuitively appreciate collaboration better than most men.)

  1. Pariser’s Law: “This is not about us, it’s about you.”

 

 

photo credit: Hogarth: Chairing the Members (from The Original Works of William Hogarth. London: John & Josiah Boydell, 1790)

 

The Webster says: If you are all about serving your community with passion you will succeed.

 


  1. Cage’s Law:
    “Begin anywhere.”

 

 

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/extranoise/169187125/ Under Creative Commons License.

The Webster says: It can appear daunting, the Webster knows. But just listen to John Cage, the greatest experimental composer of the 20th Century – and a profound philosopher – and begin. You will discover what you need as you go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 11: Pulitzer’s Law of Brief, Clear, Picturesque & True

 

  1. Pulitzer’s Law: “Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so that they will remember it, and above all accurately so they will be guided by its light.”

The very best “mission statement” for the Web, composed an eon ago, still applies.

 

And the Webster’s corollary: Give them easy, simple, direct ways by which their voices may be heard and by which they can, individually and in concert, take action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 12: Nast’s Law of Pictures


  1. Nast’s Law and (Boss Tweed’s Complaint):
    “They can see pictures.”


As Boss Tweed famously said, “Stop them damn pictures. I don’t care so much what the papers write about me. My constituents can’t read. But, damn it, they can see pictures.”


The Webster says:
Use compelling graphics. (Public Domain, Creative Commons, or Licensed. Don’t infringe copyrighted materials, especially images.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 13: Clarke’s Law Of Venturing Into the Impossible

  1. Clarke’s Second Law: “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

 

Credits: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

 

The Webster says: Learn from our predecessors, but try new things and find out what works now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 14: Beecher’s Law of Controversy

 

  1. Beecher’s Law: “No great advance has ever been made in science, politics, or religion, without controversy.

 

The Webster says: Controversy is golden – interesting, draws attention, drives traffic, and excites the community. But use common decency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 14: Lazarus’s Law

 

  1. Lazarus’s Law: “Unleash the imprisoned lightning.”

    On the Statue of Liberty is engraved a sonnet by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus.

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles….

photo credit: by Ed Schipul, Flickr.com Under Creative Commons License.

The Webster says: The Web can be our means of unleashing “the imprisoned lightning” of millions whose voices have been exiled and who deserve to be heard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 15: Metlcalfe’s Law Of The Value of Communications Systems


  1. Metcalfe’s Law:
    “The value of a communication system grows at approximately the square of the number of nodes of the system.

source: A Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community: The Wiki and the Blog, by D. Calvin Andrus, Center for the Study of Intelligence vol 49. no. 3, CIA. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=755904

A single telephone or a single fax machine has no communication value. Two phones have a little value. A thousand phones have real value. A hundred thousand has great value. A million or more, extraordinary value.

The Webster says: The more people we enroll and connect with one another, the more powerful we become.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Bianchini’s law of Viral Loops: “When your currency is ideas, people become emotionally attached.”

Photo credit: Martin Fisch, Flickr Under Creative Common License.

“Chen calls a viral loop the ‘most advanced direct-marketing strategy being developed in the world right now.’ *** [I]f you create something people really want, need, or merely enjoy, then your customers will grow your business for you. Users, just by using a product, are, in essence, offering a testimonial ‘When your currency is ideas, people become emotionally attached,’ Ning’s Bianchini says. ‘Then you become a public utility like Blogger, YouTube, or Facebook.'” (Emphasis supplied.) Source: FastCompany.com


The Webster says:
Offer something people really want, need or enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 17: Hoffman’s Law of Precrastination

 

  1. Hoffman’s Law: “If you ship your product and you’re not a little ashamed of it, you shipped too late.”

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Bithead’s photostream, Flickr under Creative Commons License.

 

The Webster says: You can always tweak the design as you go along, but your content is durable — and is what will bring visitors to, and back to, your site.

 

Precrastination: Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 18: Trippi’s Law: Pay Attention And The Community Will Do It

 

  1. Trippi’s Law: If you pay attention to the community you’re building, then the community will step up and do the work.

 

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chatiryworld.

 

The Webster says: The essence of the modern Web – and of developing the power to transform the world – resides in building community rather than broadcasting information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 19: Blades Law Of Women, Especially Moms

 

  1. Blades’ Law: “We need women in leadership and specifically, we need mothers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Carlo Crivelli, Madonna con bambino, ca. 1470, detail

 

The Webster says: empirical review of all advocacy Web success stories show women in positions of authority. (Most women intuitively appreciate collaboration better than most men. Put women, especially moms, in leadership positions. Now.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 20: Pariser’s Law: it’s about you.

 

  1. Pariser’s Law: “This is not about us, it’s about you.”

 

 

photo credit: Hogarth: Chairing the Members (from The Original Works of William Hogarth. London: John & Josiah Boydell, 1790)

 

The Webster says: If you are all about serving your community with passion you will succeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 21: Cage’s Law: Begin Anywhere


  1. Cage’s Law:
    “Begin anywhere.”

 

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/extranoise/169187125/. Under Creative Commons License.

The Webster says: It can appear daunting, the Webster knows. But just listen to John Cage, the greatest experimental composer of the 20th Century – and a profound philosopher – and begin. You will discover what you need as you go.

Module 22: Choosing The Domain Name(s). Make them:

  1. Intuitive
  2. Memorable
  3. Search Engine Friendly
  4. Mostly avoid premium domain names
  5. Avoid hyphenated domain names
  6. Just Use Godaddy.com.
  • They’re the Best!
  • Safe, friendly, great service, competitive pricing.
  • And a tiny bit sneaky!
  • Don’t let them upsell you to 2 years or more, just put on auto-renew.
  • Don’t let them upsell you with stuff you don’t need.
  • They’ll try.
  • And why shouldn’t they?
  • This is America! Bastion of Capitalism!

No, we don’t get a commission.

Darn it!

Module 23: Building a Website:

  1. For you DIYers: use the Godaddy Templates. They’re pretty, they’re cheap, they’re efficient, they’re fast to slap together, they’re easy.
    • If all you want is a virtual brochure, they’re all you need.
    • You get what you pay for.

(Unless you catch lightning in a bottle. Like MoveOn did.

Could happen! Don’t quit your day job just yet.)

  1. WordPress
    • It’s what all the cool kids and smart cats are using now.
  1. DIY or Use a pro?
    • It depends on your goal:
  • A designer will make it look distinctive and, if you pick the right one, compelling, not blah.
  • If you do it yourself it probably will look blah. Unless you’re extraordinarily gifted.
  • You are? What the heck are you doing here?
  • A developer will make it perform well, i.e. “do” things, such as letting people sign up for your newsletter or white label social network.
  • Reminder: Your responsibility is to provide a mission, a team, and content.
    • Building a website is something like building a TV-station.
    • You have to provide the “programming,” which can be words, pictures, and audio or video.
  • SEO: what the pros can do for you more efficiently than you can DIY
  • How much to expect to pay?
  1. Why not just use that bright friend of my 10th-grade son who seems to know everything about the Internet  (Hint, for much the same reason you probably don’t go to a high school kid to be your doctor or lawyer.)
    1. (If this is a hobby thing for you, that’s just what you should do. But if this is a hobby thing for you … you’ve wandered into the wrong seminar. You’re welcome to stay. But… aren’t you bored?)
  1. YouTube:- 20 hours of content = 1,200 one minute vignettes.
    1. If each vignette directs 100 views to your website per month, guess what?
    2. 120,000 pageviews a month.
  • Which is very healthy for 20 hours invested.
  1. Blogging:
  • All Rise While Bill Collier plays taps on his kazoo.

Hosting is critical, but not difficult. Unless you are going to have a more than 20,000 daily unique visits to your website, most hosting providers can serve your needs for less than $100 per month. But there are few things of which you must be aware:

  1. BANDWIDTH– Bandwidth is the amount data that can be used, rarely is this an issue unless you have a high traffic site, and even then it is not nearly as critical as it used to be
  2. RAM– RAM is the amount of memory that is used in processing, generally 4 gig of RAM should suffice, but a site with, say, 30,000 daily page views would need 8 gigs
  3. MEMORY- Memory is the amount of SPACE you will need- you should be fine with 4-15 gigs, depending on what you put on your site
  4. RELIABILITY– Test reliability by looking at customer
  5. EMAIL– You’ll want to know if you can send emails via the server or if your have to use a third party, and whether emails will forward from your domain email to any other email or whether you need a POO3 setup
  6. DONATIONS– you can use a number of providers to process donations, make sure they integrate with your website, but for small campaigns a simple PayPal setup with legal notices should suffice- look at system requirements to make sure your hosting provider can meet those requirements

 

Module 24: Graphic Content, The Pictures

  1. Generating Original Graphics:
  • com
  • com
  • Photoshop
  1. Reproducing Graphic Content Legally:
  • A snippet of copyright law:
    • Doesn’t need a © any more.
    • Big Statutory Fine for violating!
  1. Safe Harbors:
    • Your own imagery
    • Licensed Micro-Stock Images
    • Creative Commons Licensed Images
    • See Flickr and Wikipedia but be careful.
    • Public Domain:
      • Government
      • Pre-20th century (and a little later.)
  1. Dangerous Content
    • Anything you cannot prove is not unauthorized use.
    • The Burden is on you.
    • Don’t assume that because you found it on the Web Without a copyright notice it’s up for grabs
    • Do not rely on “Fair Use” for imagery.
      • [Shep Fairey: Obama HOPE]
  1. PICTURES MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER- good graphics are critical to good site design! Good graphics can make a “bad” design look not so bad and bad graphics can make an excellent design look bad!

Module 25: Text Content, Words.

  1. Static
  2. Dynamic
  3. Implications for transforming the world.

Text Sources:

  • A snippet of copyright law:
    • Safe Harbors:
      • What you write
      • Creative Commons Licensed
      • Public Domain:
        • Government
        • Old
      • “Fair Use”
    • User Generated Content and the DCMA
  1. Regular Content Updates:
  • Curated
  • Automated
  1. Bulletins to your Membership
  • Daily
  • 2X – 3X a week
  • weekly
  1. Should you creative commons license your own material? Probably yes:
  • CC-BY-ND-NC
  • Because you want it to get around.
  • (And because really: you’re not Dan Brown.)
  • This training is to teach you how to transform the world not get rich.
  • If you are looking to become an Oligarch, please take our How to Use the Web to Become an Oligarch training in addition to this class.

Module 26: Generating Traffic

  1. (Do very little of this.)
    1. It’s expensive.
    2. It’s synthetic, not organic.
    3. Which means it doesn’t stick.
  1. Exposure (Don’t count on it.)
  1. Go Viral (In your dreams.)
  1. Search Engines (Crucial.)
  1. Repeat- however you get traffic, capturing it to an email list and/or making people want to keep returning is essential to success.
  1. Referral- the best way to get referral traffic is to connect with other forums, websites, groups, and others to share your information in an ethical manner that lends value. To sustain it you must reciprocate.

Module 27: Community Organizing 101

Generating recruits: How to get people to sign up

Online

  • SEO
  • Facebook

In 3D (like meetings like this)

Module 28: Community Organizing 201:

Make yourself relevant to one third of one percent of the US population and you will have 1+ million members.

This is a lot harder than it sounds. Some tips:

  • Be relevant.
  • Be compelling.
  • Make people feel at home.
  • Make people come back often.
  • Be interactive.

And Remember: Moderation in the pursuit of liberty is no vice.

The Rules:

Three basic rules:

  1. Common Courtesy
  2. Common Decency
  3. Common Sense

More rules, for your reference and adaptation, from TeamSarah.org: http://teamsarah.ning.com/forum/topics/ts-standards-general

Go ahead and adapt and use them.

We wrote them. They work.

Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Nobody will mind.

Module 29: Community Organizing 301:

Mobilizing the Community for Action

  1. The key is to discover where your community’s passion lies.
  2. Then to guide its best impulses into effectiveness.
  3. Let us count the ways.

Module 30: Monetization:

  1. Some sobering news:
    1. You aren’t Google or Facebook.
    2. You are unlikely to raise more than a token amount on the Web until you have a really huge membership.
  1. Be mindful of legal filing requirements for nonprofits
    1. Filing with many secretaries of state or attorneys general
    2. Immense paperwork
    3. Stiff fines possible if you skip this step.
    4. Probably not worth it
  1. Merchandizing
  1. Google Ads
  1. Raise funds by asking people, in person and by phone, to contribute.
  1. Processing contributions on the Web.

Module 31: Learn From The Man Who Invented Community Organizing: Using Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals On The Web

 

  1.  “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.
  2.  “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.
  3.  “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.
  4.  “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.
  5.  “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.
  6.  “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.
  7.  “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.
  8.  “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.
  9.  “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.
  10.  “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.
  11.  “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.
  12.  “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.
  13.  “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

 

Module 32: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.

 

Module 33: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

 

Module 34: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

 

Module 35: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.

 

Module 36: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

 

Module 37: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.

 

Module 38: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.

 

Module 39: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.

 

Module 40: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.

 

Module 41: “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.

 

Module 42: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.

 

Module 43: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.

 

Module 44: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

Module 45: Mensches vs. Schmucks

“Mensch” is a Yiddish word meaning honorable and virtuous.

“Schmuck” is a rude Yiddish word meaning unrealistic, selfish, and venial.

As former Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas president Richard Fisher once said:

I was especially captivated by Irving Kristol. His book, Two Cheers for Capitalism, praised capitalism because, one, “it works, in a quite simple, material sense;” and two, it is “congenial to a large measure of personal liberty.” Kristol famously described himself as “a liberal who had been mugged by reality.” In writing a loving homage to Kristol when he died, David Brooks of the New York Times summarized the basis for Kristol’s epiphany in more colorful language. “The elemental Jewish commandment” in the working-class neighborhood where Kristol grew up was: “Don’t be a schmuck. Don’t fall for fantastical notions that have nothing to do with the way people really are.”

Don’t be a schmuck.

Be a mensch.

Or get off the Web.

We’re keeping an eye on you.

Module 46: It’s about you taking power.

The left is winning because they never take their eye off the ball. They are engaged in a “long march through the institutions” and are prepared to spend decades to win power. They do so, in large measure, by following the teachings of an obscure, yet noble, Italian Communist Party leader, Antonio Grasmsi.

Why call a Communist noble? Gramsci was imprisoned by the Italian fascists, under Mussolini, for most of his adult life and died in jail for his anti-fascism. Props for anti-fascism! And props for moral courage!

 

Gramsci taught us that while we don’t have the power to overthrow the government we do have the power to take over smaller civic institutions. And from there, we have a beachhead to influence the culture and thus take power.

 

That principle applies equally to liberty-minded conservatives as to the Left.

 

It requires patience. And it works. Rather than condemning them for their success … let’s emulate their tactics. Do not neglect to learn from Gramsci!

 

And remember the words spoken by Cassius, by Shakespeare in Julius Caesar:

 

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars quote and analysis from William Shakespeare … is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

 

Don’t be underlings. (That said, don’t be assassins either. Not even character assassins. Assassination is so not Good. Remember your Oath!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 47: Ben Franklin said: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

 

At the very conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 someone asked Ben Franklin, who was there, what form of government it had given us.

 

Franklin responded:

 

“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

 

This is very simple. It also is very fundamental.

 

It is, in fact, axiomatic.

 

It is a lost axiom.

 

America was designed by its Founders to be a republic.

 

Not a democracy.

 

A republic is a representative democracy. We elect people — maybe even people exactly like you — maybe even you — to represent us.

 

It is not, above the town level, designed to be a direct democracy.

 

The Founders considered democracy to be “mob rule.”

 

Get this right and much good will follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Module 48: Not change: Transformation

 

There’s an old saying: “The more things change the more they stay the same.” (Yes, the French coined it. Viva la France! They gave us the Marquis de Lafayette and the Statue of Liberty too. And New Orleans!)

 

“Change” implies something wrong and seeking change sets up reactance.

“Transformation” implies a natural process, without judging others.

 

A caterpillar does not “change” into a butterfly.

It transforms. It is the realization of its innermost nature.

 

The more we try to “change” things the more things stay the same.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to transform the world from its larval Progressive state — caterpillar — into a mature Conservative butterfly.

 

Doubt that you have the power to make this happen?

Get over it. Consider the words of Margaret Mead:

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

 

Your potential power is greater than you yet have dreamed.

Take power. Use the Web to transform the world. Don’t shirk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Webster And Regal Blue Media

 

Ralph Benko

http://thewebstersdictionary.com

ralphbenko@gmail.com

202.365.0002

 

Photo: Bill Collier

http://regalbluemedia.com

mrbillcollier@gmail.com

570.439-5932

 

Our Motto (a quote from Guy Debord):

Image courtesy of The Resistance Army

 

 

 

So now you know:

 

How to use the Web to get elected President of the United States (or any lesser office, down to Dogcatcher)… and then use the Web to help you achieve historic greatness in office.

 

When you are ready to transform Connecticut, America, and the world… call upon us to support you in that noble effort.

 

Or just go ahead and do it without our assistance.

 

We believe in you.

Believe in yourself.

 

Go ye forth and transform the world.

Use your newfound powers only for Good!

 

  • Ralph
  • Bill

 

 

 

With special appreciation to Jonathan Gilman and Daria Novak