Aspiration News

Open Translation Tools 2007

Event Date(s): 
November 29, 2007 to December 1, 2007

Aspiration designed and hosted the first-ever “Open Translation Tools Convergence”. This 3-day event brought together two passionate communities: those creating open source software tools to support translating open content, and those with a need for better tools to support translation of the open content they create.

Aspiration published a paper entitled "Open Translation Tools: Disruptive Potential to Broaden Access to Knowledge", documenting learnings and outcomes from the event. In addition, a video and inventory of open translation tools were also produced.

The event took place in Zagreb, Croatia, from 29 November to 1 December 2007, and was co-organized by Aspiration and Multimedia Institute - [MI2]. Open Translation Tools 2007 was supported by the generosity of the Open Society Institute, with additional support provided by TechSoup.

The event was convened to:

  • Document the open source translation tool landscape - What's out there? And what should we create to fill the gaps?
  • Inventory “open content translation use cases” - What translation support is needed?
  • Strengthen the community of practice around open source translation tools for open content, with a particular focus on delivering value to nonprofit and non-governmental organizations (NPOs and NGOs).

The agenda was collaboratively developed by participants in the time leading up to and during the gathering. Also see additional event background.

All event proceedings were captured on the event wiki. An ongoing discussion is taking place on the event mailing list.

Overall, we followed a user-driven approach to map tools to use cases, assessing what is supported by currently available open source software tools and services, and identifying the most pressing needs. Primary focus was placed on supporting and enabling distributed human translation of content, but the role of machine translation was also considered. “Open content” encompasses a range of resource types, from books to manuals to documents to blog posts to multimedia.

The event targeted three complementary outcomes:

  • A mapping of the open source translation tool landscape, enumerating tools and tool categories as well as services, projects and resources, and assessing gaps and opportunities for development. There is currently very little in terms of a directory of translation tools for content publishers, and this event will serve to create such an inventory.
  • An inventory of “open content translation use cases”, with open content creators and publishers describing how they would like open source software tools and technologies to support their translation needs. These use cases will cover a range of tasks (“I need to translate a document into a second language”) and usage scenarios (“I need a widget for my blog that links to open content translation request services and lists available translated versions of my content”).
  • A strengthened community of practice around translation tools for open content for NPO and NGO needs. While many amazing projects are in play all around the globe, there are relatively few opportunities for practitioners in the field of open content translation to meet and collaborate as a community. Open Translation Tools 2007 will provide such a venue.

For more information, email or call +1.415.839.6456.

Aspiration MC's "No Slide Zone" at Oracle OpenWorld

Event Date(s): 
November 12, 2007 to November 15, 2007

Oracle invited Aspiration to MC and facilitate the first-ever No Slide Zone at Oracle OpenWorld 2007. Bucking long-held conference and trade show tradition, the No Slide Zone track prohibited the use of projected "slideware" decks, instead encouraging presenters to engage in creative and interactive presentation formats.

Sessions included a Jeopardy spoof focused on database security, a caged death match between old school and new school database admins, a content management cook-off, and a mad scientist laboratory cooking up "Enterprise 2.0" experiments.

While it was a tad outside of our nonprofit technology mission focus, the event provided Aspiration a great opportunity to introduce our collaborative event philosophy and participant-driven session formats to a very large new audience at this 42,000-attendee gathering. Plus it was fun to play with all the high-tech event toys not normally found in the nonprofit sector, including state-of-the-art SWAG.

FLOSS Usability Sprint V

Event Date(s): 
November 2, 2007 to November 4, 2007

Aspiration and Blue Oxen Associates co-hosted the fifth FLOSS Usability Sprint November 2-4, 2007. FLOSS Usability alums Daniel Schwartz and Jon Slenk stepped up to lead the event planning, outreach and logistics. Once again, Google graciously hosted the event at their headquarters in Mountain View. Project participants included Firefox, Chandler, and WiserEarth.

"FLOSS" stands for Free/Libre/Open Source Software, and at FLOSS Usability Sprints, open source software projects partner with usability practitioners to address specific usability challenges in the software tools they are creating. Each team identifies usability outcomes they want to achieve during the course of the 3-day sprint, then collaboratively designs and implements processes for realizing the stated outcomes.

Event proceedings were tracked on the FLOSS Usability Wiki.

Aspiration Directs "Good to Great FOSS" event in Nairobi

Event Date(s): 
October 24, 2007 to October 26, 2007

At the invitation of IDRC and in partnership with PRIDE Africa, Aspiration directed the first-ever “Good to Great FOSS: Open Source Software Development in Africa” convening in Nairobi from October 24-26. The workshop provided a collaborative venue for discussion on Open Source software development in a developing country context, and was attended by a diverse group of open source projects and practitioners. The workshop goal was to facilitate an open assessment on how ‘Open Source’ approaches do (and do not) improve the impact of software initiatives in a developing country context. Also discussed and documented were reflections on the most successful approaches and strategy to implementing Open Source.

Participating projects included AVOIR, DrumNet, OpenMRS, Mifos and TradeNet.

The main objectives of this workshop were:

  • To provide an opportunity for reflection and learning about how to develop successful Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) initiatives in Africa;
  • To promote collaboration and understanding of what it takes to have a successful FOSS project;
  • To document community processes and tool sets of featured projects, profiling best practices required to apply FOSS expertise to add value to various technology driven IDRC-funded projects;
  • To provide knowledge on business process in the context of FOSS projects.

An event wiki was maintained to store session notes and project profiles.

Following from the event, Aspiration will be authoring a paper that details community processes and tool sets of featured projects from the event; a profile of best practices, required resources and processes in the developing country context; as well as points of disagreement on the subject of how to develop an Open Source project in the African context; and finally, recommendations for focus areas in future support and collaboration.

gunner rants and raves about nonprofit technology at Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp

Despite the use of informal and occasionally salty language, Craigslist Foundation was kind enough to post a podcast of Aspiration Executive Director Allen Gunn's recent presentation at the 2007 San Francisco Boot Camp.

Using the soap box as his publishing platform, gunner opined on a range of nonprofit tech challenges, best practices and pathologies before heading off to babysit his nephew and niece.

Thanks to Craigslist Foundation for creating a venue in which people passionate about nonprofit technology were able to come discuss and share knowledge while strengthening the network of nonprofit practice!

Mott Grantee Focus Groups

Event Date(s): 
September 25, 2007 to October 9, 2007

The Mott Foundation invited Aspiration to design and facilitate a series of convenings to engage Mott grantees on how the foundation's web site could better serve their needs.

Grantees in Flint, Michigan, San Francisco, California, and Washington, DC were invited to review the current slate of online services, and offer feedback on both the value of those offerings and their ability to take advantage of the same.

Sun Digital Divide Summit

Event Date(s): 
October 4, 2007

Sun invited Aspiration to design and facilitate an event that brought together senior Sun executives and technologists with Sun Foundation staff to discuss how Sun could play a role in addressing the digital divide on a global level.

The day-long meeting was an extremely interactive opportunity for participants to cast long-term visions and to weigh in on what was viable and advisable in applying Sun technologies to assist those living and working in under-served and offline parts of the world.

Background - Open Translation Tools

Aspiration hosted the first-ever “Open Translation Tools Convergence”. This 3-day event brought together two passionate communities: those creating open source software tools to support translating open content, and those with a need for better tools to support translation of the open content they create.

Aspiration welcomes San Ng as Director of Programs and Operations

San Ng is transitioning from the Aspiration Board Room to Aspiration headquarters. San joins Aspiration as Director of Programs and Operations after serving as Program Director for ICT for Governance, Law and Civil Society at The Asia Foundation. Welcome San!

YouthNoise Youth Summits

Event Date(s): 
September 1, 2007 to November 17, 2007

YouthNoise invited Aspiration to design and facilitate a series of Youth Summits in cities across the U.S. The goal of each Summit in the series was to engage youth in cause-based local activism by extending the YouthNoise's “MyCauseIs” program to offline contexts. The ultimate purpose of the process was to grow the connection between youth-driven ground action and the benefits of online networking, resource building, community organizing and project management.

Was Reading this Blog Beneficial to your Professional Development?

I recently got accepted to present at a nonprofit research conference about the Nonprofit Management and Operations Blog, Wiki and Brown Bag Lunch discussions as being collaborative learning and professional development tools for nonprofit managers.

Please take a few minutes to provide me your feedback and let me know if any of these devices were beneficial to your professional development.

Click Here to take survey

Making Waves

Event Date(s): 
July 23, 2007 to July 24, 2007

Surdna Foundation invited Aspiration to design and facilitate a 2-day event focused on the future of public radio. The goal of the gathering was to offer practical guidance and to suggest new ideas for leaders in the field of community radio. A central question of the event was “what new technological developments now permit us to do radio differently, and make radio viable in previously unviable places?" Participants considered the role of the internet in future community radio strategies, and also discussed policy and advocacy opportunities.


I wrote this blog while I was Assistant Director at Aspiration and shared about my experiences managing the day to day operations of my organization. I love what I do! I'm now a full-time consultant and PhD student at the University of San Diego. I am continuing to blog on my Nonprofit Leadership 601 blog.

My last post: Blog Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants

As a bittersweet moment, this is my last post on this blog, for I'm leaving Aspiration to start my PhD in Nonprofit Leadership at the University of San Diego. I'll be hosting future Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants on my new Nonprofit Leadership 601 blog.

Thanks to all those who provided blog submissions this week!

Aspiration's eAdvocacy Jamboree 2007

Event Date(s): 
July 17, 2007 to July 20, 2007

Aspiration hosted our annual eAdvocacy shindig, which we lovingly named the "eAdvocacy Jamboree", from July 17-20 at Preservation Park in Oakland. The main event ran July 18-20, with a pre-day of eAdvocacy trainings on July 17 for those wanting to ramp up their eAdvocacy skills.

Check out the agenda and notes from sessions.

Electric Embers also hosted their third annual Most Excellent AdvocacyDev Veggie-Friendly BBQ Shindig, continuing to raise the bar for NPTech hospitality!

The final agenda is online. We continued to expand the format this year, and offered several interleaved tracks:

  • Training Fest: A full day of in-depth trainings was offered on Tuesday the 17th, before the main Jamboree, on a range of topics including eAdvocacy 101, Web 2.0 Tools and Tactics, eAdvocacy Best Practices, Strategic Blogging, Intro and Advanced sessions on Democracy in Action, CiviCRM, Non-Profit Soapbox, Drupal, and Joomla.
  • Interactive Track: participants were able to workshop their current campaigns with facilitators and other participants, participate in peer web site reviews, brainstorm new campaign ideas, and engage in skillshares on any topic they wanted to discuss. Spectators were few and far between!
  • Strategy Track - Tools, Tactics and Best Practices: eOrganizers and eAdvocacy practitioners from a broad base of causes and sectors discussed what they've got in their toolboxes and the tactics and strategies they're currently employing. Sessions considered the challenges of messaging and maintaining supporter bases across campaigns. A particular focus was on developing best practices in eCampaiging process and engagement models. Participants also related how they're using emerging web 2.0 and other technologies to augment their eAdvocacy efforts. User/Developer sessions allowed stakeholders across the eAdvocacy landscape to discuss how we can all work together more effectively.
  • Developer Track - Open Source eAdvocacy Platforms: Where are we, what's new, and how will it all interoperate? We continued the dialog from past AdvocacyDev convergences and looked for more opportunities to write tools that make life easier for campaigners and organizers. Latest releases of all relevant platforms were demo'd and compared, and participants were invited to drink from the fountain of cool technology Koolaid.
  • eAdvocacy Capacity Track - Addressing the Challenge: The most consistently vexing problem in the eAdvocacy space is how to develop more capacity. Campaigns and causes go wanting for able staff and consultants who could help them craft and execute appropriate online campaigns and strategies. This track mapped what's already being done in terms of training and documentation, while opening up the floor for discussion on how better to scale eAdvocacy communities of practice and pool various documentation resources.

As always, participant input dramatically shaped what happened at the event.

Event partners who worked with Aspiration to design the agenda and sessions included Blue Oxen Associates, (Warsaw, Poland),, CiviCRM, CivicSpace, DemocracyInAction, Drupal, Joomla!, MobileVoter, New Organizing Institute, Non-Profit Soapbox/PICnet,, and Radical Designs.

Last Nonprofit Operations Brown Bag Lunch--Preparing for Employee Transition

As I am working to wrap things up here at Aspiration before I move to San Diego, I am taking steps to prepare for my replacement. Unfortunately, staff turnover is quite common in nonprofit organizations. Even though no one really wants employee turnover, I think as managers we need to create processes and be prepared when turnover occurs so things can continue to run smoothly in the organization.

If you are in the Bay Area, please join me for the last Nonprofit Operations Brown bag lunch to discuss, "Preparing for Employee Transition," on August 8, 2007.

Nonprofit Management Wiki

I really enjoy reading Rosetta Thurman's blog "Perspectives from the Pipeline". Rosetta writes engaging posts about nonprofit management and leadership. In addition, she just launched a nonprofit management wiki.

Penguin Day Lowell

Event Date(s): 
June 22, 2007

Penguin Day Lowell went down on June 22, 2007 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Check out the Penguin Day Lowell Agenda and the Penguin Day web site. Penguin Day Lowell was co-organized by Organizers Collaborative, Aspiration, and NOSI.

Diversify your nonprofit's funding sources, please!

I learned traditional fundraising methods during my Masters degree and from the many workshops I've attended over the years.  The one thing I remember the most from these seminars is--nonprofits need to diversify their funding sources and not to rely too much on one source of funding. However, my personal experiences in organizations have taught me quite the opposite.

In the first organization I worked for, we relied solely on individual donors.

In another organization, we relied solely on Foundation grants.


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