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mike seyfang

Beth - I have left some tips via a trackback from my MSN Spaces blog.

I am hoping to get a 30-60seconds audio .mp3 from you about this collaboration and a shout out to the attendees of Microsoft's UnlimitedPotential conference.

Regards
Fang

Catherine Carey

Beth and others,

The American Evaluation Association's annual conference could be included.

Organizational learning is Evaluation 2007's theme. The conference is in Baltimore November 7 - 10. For more info:

http://www.eval.org/eval2007/

While the conference is loaded with academics and Beltway folks, many independent consultants attend. We work with nonprofits and local governments to monitor and assess the effectiveness of programs. Creating databases, training staff and writing reports are several ways we work to strengthen nonprofits.

A current nonprofit client and a former nonprofit coworker are submitting presentation proposals. Presentation proposal info:

http://www.eval.org/eval2007/proposals/aea07.ProposalSubmission.htm

Catherine

Gavin Clabaugh

Ha! Beth, you made me laugh out loud... The concept that: “…email to listservs, -Posts on online forums, -Google search…” constitute “traditional research..." [chuckle, made me laugh again just writing it].

I was immediately reminded of something a friend and professor at UMich said the other day. It was an off-handed comment about today’s student [research] papers… He said something to the effect of "...From looking at dates of research cited by students, apparently nothing happened in the world before 1979..." [That’s about when you start to get content online.] Apparently, if it ain’t online, it ain’t important.

Nevertheless, your thinking about how to incorporate the “social web” into research sparked a small synaptic response. It got me thinking. Here’s what ran barefoot through my brain:

If I were approaching this, I’d try a sociographic approach (like a sociogram). [I just make these words up. Really.]

In fact, as I think about it, by posting this on your blog, you are doing this in a round-about way. A sociogram is a fancy way of saying a graphic representation of social links; a social network.

Research-wise, one of the more valuable social research tools we used to use was to try locating, identifying, and eventually interviewing, the top ten “experts” in any particular field. It was the locating and identifying portion that seems apropos here. It was, in essence, a kind of sociogram.

We had a fancy name for it, but it slips my mind right now. Now when I say experts, it’s not necessarily the people that say they are the experts or otherwise claim to be. Rather it’s the ones that everybody else cites as the “ones to talk to.”

In my flash-to-the-past thinking, one way to do that used to be something called the Social Science Citation Index (or SSCI). It was kind of like a reverse phone book. It listed who cited whom in research papers. You could quickly ascertain the most cited sources. You could look up, say, “Einstein” and see who had cited him in their research, and you could see who Einstein had cited, yada, yada, yada.

That was handy for the odd esoteric research project on, say, neonatal circumcision, over-packaging of fast food, or industry forecasts for HD TV circa 1982. [All real projects] Probably not that useful here, as I think of it.

Instead, to bring this into the “modern” world, I’d still say that a sociographic approach would work, but try it solely with social networks of people. In this case, you want to know [first] not what conferences people would recommend, but rather who everybody would cite as the expert, who exact would folks recommend as the “person in the know” so to speak. It’s not so much “what’s the answer to my question” but “who should I ask.” Then, once you collect up the experts; you ask them.

Just idle thoughts.
(oh, and of course I’d recommend the NTC, but I’m no expert)

Sam Davidson

Not sure if you've seen this one yet - it's in Georgia:

Georgia Nonprofit Summit 2007

Lucy Bernholz

This is cool - I love the meta -research angle of the whole thing. posted some thoughts to your linkedin request.

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