Thursday, October 13, 2005

MeetUp, LinkUp


DFA was with MeetUps. That was true when I came into town. And suddenly DFA launched LinkUps. It was kind of unexpected for me.

Not long after I came into town I became personal friends with Scott, the self-effacing CEO of MeetUp.com. I am proud of that friendship. And I wish him all the best, of course.

The MeetUp, MoveOn cocktail can be positively devastating. They did some real good work with Katrina.

Social Networking: Where The Internet Comes Down From The Clouds

I hit the road. Scott went to work a coutner at McDonald's. We both had our downtimes. If in the late 1990s, you were not part of the dot com mania, where were you!

And it is not like I landed in NYC, more like I landed at DFNYC. As I have said, NYC is the crown city, DFNYC the crown jewel. I expect to go to the White House with Howard Dean in 2008, the year America the republic will become America the democracy.

DFNYC In The News
Tracey Denton Of DFNYC
Who Is Leecia Eve?
Lewis Cohen Has Been Behind Ferrer Since Summer 2004

Soaking In Howard Dean
Dean Was In Town Yesterday

DFA MeetUps were and still are the largest at that site. And I was not part of the LinkUp decision, and still am not in any position to have a say. I am kind of on neutral ground. That might actually help what I have to say.

I am for DFA using Google's Blogger, as opposed to starting something in-house from scratch. That "outsourcing" helps us stay focused. We are a political organization. In Blogger's case, it helps that it is free. We instead work the blogalaxy idea in-house. Google will always beat us on the blogfront. We should not even compete.

One Blog One LinkUp One Atom

The same argument could be made for MeetUp. A company whose sole focus is to leverage out MeetUps and is financially backed by eBay will likely do a better job than our in-house LinkUps in the long run.

MeetUp.com and Dean 2004 fed on each other. Dean 2004 could not have been imagined without the MeetUps. We have history together.

I would like to suggest a second attempt at a newfound business relationship. It might not bear fruit, but why not give it a shot?

MeetUp.com should realize losing its largest customer is a crisis situation, and should go out of its way to please that customer, especially when Dean 2004 and Dean 2008 are going to be whole different ballgames: Dean 2008 will be much, much larger. The DFA MeetUps will likely grow even larger after Dean is in the White House. The MeetUps will be key to the Dean governance style.

More On Organization
DFA Organization Framework

On the other hand, we DFA people need to realize the MeetUp idea is not our specialty.

Can something be worked out?

Costs. Those have become a major issue. What about applying the wholesale-retail concept? Prices at Sam's Club are not the same as those at the Walmart stores. As the largest customer, DFA should not have to pay the same price per MeetUp. If the rest of the world pays, $19 per MeetUp, perhaps DFA Organizers should pay $12 a MeetUp. Or $10. Just because there are so many of them, and there will be many more of them, if allowed.

Another way to bring down costs would be for the central DFA to "subsidize" some. And so individual Organizers chip in maybe $8 per MeetUp. Something like that. That might lead to a $1 per MeetUp price tag for each participant. And that is fair enough. We don't want just anyone to show up.

Living wage is around $10. If you go attend a MeetUp for an hour, that is already $10 you did not make that you could have. Or if you are a lawyer, that is $100, maybe more.

And MeetUp.com should be willing to add features that LinkUp has but MeetUp does not. And MeetUp should be willing to add more features down the line, always giving ears to its largest customer.

I think if we talk, something could be worked out.

One feature I request, a Google map that lists all DFA MeetUps on one map. As you zero in from the country to state to city to locality, you start seeing the specific locations.

The amount DFA must be spending to upkeep the LinkUp might pay for the "subsidy" part.

Ours tend to the most prominent, largest MeetUps in any town. When people go to the site to join, say, Knitting MeetUps, some of them end up joining us. Our standalone LinkUps do not have that advantage.

MeetUp is snazzier.

MeetUp could further reduce costs by really getting into the ad model. Google ads alone will not do. Even Wonkette sells its own ads. Maybe video ads like Yahoo. The more MeetUp.com works on the members' profile pages, more it can make through ads.

Ideally, MeetUp shoud be able to support itself solely through ads. Paid Yahoo Mail does not seem to fly all that high.

Lessons for social networking are to be drawn from real life. Members should have the option to tab each other, for example.

But those details are something to keep working on.

For now I throw in the idea of dialogue. Maybe something can be worked out. Maybe not. I don't know. I am not in any position to decide.

I mean, was the DFA taken into confidence before the mega decision of charging Organizers $19 a month? And if not, did that become a stickler? Was DFA's decision to launch a LinkUp also as abrupt?

Maybe we should talk and see if something can be worked out.

1 comment:

Paramendra Bhagat said...

Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2005 09:04:15 -0400
From: "Democracy for America"
To: "Paramendra Kumar Bhagat"
Subject: Re: MeetUp, LinkUp

Hi Paramendra,

The decision to move away from Meetup was based on organizational
issues rather than monetary issues. We had considered the move before Meetup introduced the fee-based system last spring. The issue was simple: we wanted data on our Meetup attendees that Meetup.com, as an independent company with its own legal considerations, could not provide us. As a political organization, it is important for us to know who the active members in the community are, how often they're attending Meetup, what other actions they take, etc. There was a big piece of the puzzle missing because an outside entity controlled the organizational aspects of a major part of our field program. Meetup.com was very understanding
of this and our move away from them was very amicable.

For those same reasons, we cannot outsource our blog project to
Blogger. We at HQ will have no way of knowing who exactly is a "DFA Blogger". Having access to the database is much better than just looking through the site and recording what we find. Also, we will have no way of being able to parse through all the posts out there in an orderly fashion. There is no community ratings system that will be so important to the
functioning of the new blog.

Lastly, I don't think you have to worry about DFA being a software
organization. We will never sell our software. More importantly, any
software we write is expressly created to advance our organizational goals. We organize on the ground to help elect fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidates. Relying on outside companies for our online organizing tools will lead to a level of disorganization that we need to avoid in order to continue to be successful.

- Luigi

Paramendra Kumar Bhagat wrote:

>http://democracyforum.blogspot.com/2005/10/meetup-linkup.html