Let’s Make A Digital Organizing Guide!

Open source software is a source of many innovations. One of is a response to a fairly basic problem: who creates the user manual for programs not owned and developed by a company?

In 2008 Tomas Krag came up with the idea of a book sprint. Get the right people to commit to 4-5 days of steady work, and end up with a top to bottom software manual for open source software. The book sprint has caught on, and dozens of books in multiple languages are available for free download or purchase.

In recent years, software methodologies like SCRUM and Agile have migrated to other parts of the business world – and beyond. Shouldn’t that be true for the book sprint? It got us thinking…

At workshops in digital strategy for labor organizers, we usually offer copies of various resources and guides to pass around. Folks are more likely to scan a physical copy than to look up a URL a few days later. But the information isn’t well organized – it’s always just a list of resources, with no taxonomy or easy to use locator for the right resource.

Instead, we should use the book sprint methodology to produce a guide for digital organizers in the labor movement in New York City. It would be available as a free download, though anyone could buy a printed copy. The bulk of it would be (authorized) reprints or links to existing resources from the usual suspects, such as the New Organizing Institute.

In addition, we would add more specialized resources that our target audience will find helpful:

  • List of organizations offering political, communications, or digital training in NYC
  • Calendar of events of importance to the organizing community
  • Lists of Twitter handles and Facebook pages for labor organizations and local elected officials.
  • A directory of labor communications staff in New York.
  • Articles about topics designed explicitly for a junior communications staffer to give to someone more senior in the labor movement to advance a particular point. (Ex.: digital should be part of early strategy discussions, not added as an afterthought.)
  • References to recent noteworthy efforts using digital tools, from New York based organizations.
  • A directory of trustworthy vendors and freelancers who offer relevant services.

After asking a number of our friends and advisory board members, we’ve decided to create such a guide during the upcoming Organizing 2.0 conference (April 10-11). It might even spark the creation of more such guides for other regions. If you have suggestions or want to participate, get in touch with us. At the moment we have a facilitator, we’re looking for 3-4 volunteers to take a lead role in producing this guide.