Saturday, May 17, 2008

Punched Holes and Glass Booths

There's an Acorn board meeting coming up on Tuesday, and one piece of the preparation effort was the gathering and organization of reference materials for the board members, the assembly of big plastic three ring binders full of charts and graphs and tables and articles.

Last Thursday, as the information gathering neared completion, attention turned to the hole punching, collating, and pop snap binder building, and we held a rock paper scissors futility tournament to allocate the task.

I lost.

My good friend Michael had recently recommended a video, however, and, since hole punching and video watching are not mutually exclusive activities, I gathered the puncher, the binders, the tabs, and the documents, slapped on my headphones, pushed play, and got to work.

The video is a presentation that one of the founders of Glassbooth gave at Google headquarters in April. Michael was absolutely right; it's something from which I can definitely "glean an idea or two."

Glassbooth is an online tool that asks you questions based on policy-related issues, compares your responses with the views of presidential candidates, and tells you with whom you most closely align.

The data and subject matter with which Glassbooth deals, while fascinating, aren't particularly relevant to sustainable business or corporate social responsibility or creating races to the top, but the story co-founder Ian Manheimer tells about Glassbooth's origins, principles, and strategies is one to which I (and, I think, anyone looking to build something worldchangingly educational) ought to pay close attention.

He talks about trust capital, user suspicion, transparency.

He talks about the media, the current information environment, the myth of voter apathy, and why it's essential to provide quick, well-organized access to substantive but overwhelming information

He talks about trying to "take a massive set of data and marry it with an inviting and intuitive design."

He talks about mobilizing friends and friends of friends to volunteer.

He talks about poaching PR databases in the middle of the night.

And he talks about he and his co-founders begging their grandparents for the money they needed to get things started.

It's a good story. Glassbooth is trying to do good, important, educational things. And it looks like they're going about it in a thoughtful and effective way.

If you ever have 45 minutes of hole punching to do, throw on the video and see what you think.

*Note: One of the first things I did after finishing the video was to go to Glassbooth.org and take the issues quiz. The site recommended that I vote for Mike Gravel, and it told me that I am more closely ideologically aligned with Hillary than Obama. Hmmm. I feel like I might have a lot to say about this. I'd better think about it for a while first, though. Then maybe I'll send an email to Glassbooth. If I do, I'll post it in the comments.

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