Open Translation Tools 2009

Event Date(s): 
June 22, 2009 to June 24, 2009

Aspiration was delighted to organize Open Translation Tools 2009 (OTT09), in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, from 22-24 June, 2009. The event was followed by an Open Translation "Book Sprint" which produced a first-of-its-kind volume on tools and best practices in the field of Open Translation, "Open Translation Tools".

Also see blog coverage from participants, including Ethan Zuckerman (OTT09 and Book Sprint), David Sasaki, TAUS, Engage Media, and Philippe Lacour.

Both events were co-organized in partnership with and, and generously supported by the Open Society Institute and the Ford Foundation.

Agenda partners for the event included Creative Commons, Global Voices Online, WorldWide Lexicon, Meedan, and DotSUB.

OTT09 built upon the work and collaboration from Open Translation Tools 2007 (OTT07; see paper, video, and toolbox). The event convened stakeholders in the field of open content translation to assess the state of software tools that support translation of content that is licensed under free or open content licenses such as Creative Commons or Free Document License. The event served to map out what’s available, what’s missing, who’s doing what, and to recommend strategic next steps to address those needs, with a particular focus on delivering value to open education, open knowledge, and human rights blogging communities.

Primary focus was placed on supporting and enabling distributed human translation of content, but the role of machine translation was also considered. “Open content” encompassed a range of resource types, from educational materials to books to manuals to documents to blog content to video and multimedia.

The agenda goals of the 2009 event were several:

  • Address the Translation Challenges Faced by the Open Education, Open Content, and human rights blogging communities, and mapping requirements to available open solutions.
  • Build on the vision and exploring new use cases for the Global Voices Lingua Translation Exchange
  • Document the state of the art in distributed human translation, and discussing how to further tap the tremendous translation potential of the net
  • Make tools talk better: realizing a standards-driven approach to open translation
  • Explore and sketch out Open Translation API Designs, building on existing work and models
  • Document workflow requirements for missing open translation tools
  • Match-make between open source tools and open content projects
  • Map of available tools to open translation use cases

See the Agenda Overview for elaboration and more details about what transpired.

Most importantly, the agenda centered on the needs and knowledge of the participating projects, structuring sessions and collaborations to focus on designing appropriate processes and selecting appropriate tools to support open content projects and inform further development of open source translation tools.

In addition, OTT09 continued the knowledge sharing for the open translation community, and continue discussion on other identified needs from OTT07. The agenda for this event was greatly informed by open education, open content and human rights blogging projects with specific translation needs, and a number of sessions were structured to both characterize requirements and propose solutions to respective projects' translation requirements.

OTT07 mapped out a hefty list of Open Translation Tools. Participants at OTT09 surveyed what has change over the past 18 months, and assessed the most pressing remaining gaps.

See OTT09 Accommodations Information for a list of hotels and other resources near the venue.

For more information, email or call +1.415.839.6456.

eAdvocacy Book Sprint

Event Date(s): 
April 13, 2009 to April 17, 2009

Aspiration brought together some of our brightest and most passionate eAdvocacy allies to lay down the content for the Online Organizer's Almanac, a comprehensive volume about online advocacy, eActivism, and internet-based organizing.

The almanac was written at a 5-day Book Sprint in San Francisco. The authors collaborated both in person and remotely, nonstop from a Monday morning to a Friday evening to create these materials. The content was assembled on the platform, a collaborative online enviroment for authoring open documentation and manuals.


p>Understanding online tools, tactics and technologies is an ongoing learning challenge for all activists and organizers. The Almanac was written for what are lovingly called the "Accidental Online Organizers", those individuals who as a result of happenstance, fate, passion or an advanced ability to type have found themselves tasked with selecting, implementing and/or learning to use online tools to campaign and advocate.


p>The Almanac is an attempt to capture and contextualize the best practices the authors believe in based on our trials and errors, successes and failures. It represents the collected learnings from working both individually and together over many years, exploring how the internet can be effectively and sustainably utilized to support activists and movements in the struggles for social change and social justice.

The authoring team included:



  • David Taylor, founder of Radical Designs and Online Director for Rainforest Action Network
  • Matt Holland, Director of TrueMajority
  • Chris Michael, coordinator with WITNESS
  • Arnold Chandler, policy advocate, researcher and technology strategist
  • Beka Economopoulos, grassroots field and online organizer
  • Kip Williams, Online Campaign Strategist
  • Allen Gunn, Executive Director of Aspiration
  • 2008 Nonprofit Software Development Summit

    Event Date(s): 
    November 17, 2008 to November 19, 2008

    The 2008 Nonprofit Software Development Summit was the second annual convening of people and organizations developing software tools, web applications and other technology to support social justice causes. Bringing together a diverse range of developers, technologists, managers, eRiders, integrators, users and other practitioners who self-identify under the umbrella of roles around “developing nonprofit software”, the 2008 DevSummit provided an opportunity both to gather as a community and to take stock of the field, while building connections and capacity.

    The event targeted a range of audiences, including developers writing code to support nonprofit needs, nonprofit users with strong opinions about what software you need developed to empower your programs and operations, integrators deploying tools for nonprofit and social justice organizations, and individuals who just care about seeing better technology developed to address the broad range of issues we face as a global community.

    The event was supported by the generosity of 2008 Dev Summit sponsors Sun, NetSquared, Google, Open Source Matters, and CiviCRM, as well as anonymous donors.

    To learn more about what went down...

    Check out the Event Schedule and Sessions List.

    Check out the Facebook event page and join up so we can notify you about the 2009 Dev Summit!

    Feel free to join the Event Mailing List to participate in discussions about this and the next Summit!

    Send any outstanding questions or comments you have to

    Goals of the Summit

    The Summit had as its primary goals the following:

    • To convene and strengthen connections between the networks of stakeholders in the nonprofit software ecosystem, providing a fun and creative environment for celebrating successes and leadership in the field.
    • To share skills and knowledge in a highly collaborative, peer-to-peer fashion.
    • To map and discuss what is available and what is missing across the nonprofit software landscape in specific software “verticals”, and to posit solutions for addressing the gaps.
    • To offer a point of entry for software developers interested in offering their skills to nonprofit sector.

    The agenda took a concrete and hands-on approach to topics and challenges, focusing on transferring skills and process knowledge in interactive and fun ways. Panels and slideware were in short supply as with any Aspiration event, supplanted by participant-driven collaborations and small-group formats.

    Event partners working with Aspiration to design the agenda and sessions included Blue Oxen Associates, Brattleboro Technology Collective, Chandler,, Chicago Technology Cooperative, CITI, CiviCRM, Craigslist Foundation, DemocracyInAction, Drupal, EarthJustice, Floatleft,, Gotham Gazette, Jacob Appelbaum, Joomla!, MAPLight, MobileVoter, Nonprofit Open Source Initiative (NOSI), NetSquared, Newscloud, OpenMRS, The Open Planning Project, PICnet,, Radical Designs, Foundation, SFCCP, SproutBuilder, TechCafeteria, Tim Bishop, United States Institute of Peace and WiredForChange.

    As with all Aspiration events, the agenda was extremely participant-driven, developed in collaboration with participants and session facilitators. Sessions for the event included:

    • Open Source CMS Mini-Summit
    • Listening to Users and Designing Appropriate Tools
    • eAdvocacy Platform and API survey
    • Open Source Case Management
    • The State of Nonprofit CRM
    • API Review: Where Are We At With Tool and Platform Integration?
    • Business Models for Nonprofit Software Development
    • Building Usability into Nonprofit Tools
    • Software Project Management
    • Engineering for Accessibility and Inclusion
    • Helping Non-Techies and Techies Build Successful Software Projects
    • Going Green: Serving Sites on Less Carbon

    We thank everyone who helped to make the 2008 Nonprofit Software Development Summit a huge success!

    Managing Nonprofit Technology Projects II - West Coast!

    Event Date(s): 
    May 20, 2008 to May 21, 2008

    Aspiration and Idealware hosted the second Nonprofit Technology Project Management event in Oakland, California.

    Managing Nonprofit Technology Projects examined the tools and best practices that help nonprofits deliver successful technology solutions - whether websites, packaged software implementations, or custom applications.

    Interactive sessions and demos allowed a diverse group of participants to compare processes, tools, successes, and lessons learned. Discussion topics included team collaboration, project planning, software selection, migration, and project rollout, and mapping out software tools – from project management packages to collaborative communication to issue tracking and more – that support successful technology projects.

    You can check out the agenda and session notes on the MNTP Wiki

    And feel free to join the MNTP discussion list, which we're be using to continue the dialog.

    Aspiration’s skill in facilitating practitioner knowledge combined with Idealware’s experience in providing mental frameworks and research based information contributed to an informal, collaborative, and information-rich event.

    What Are They Saying?

    The feedback from our New York Project Management event was equally enthusiastic. Just a few of the comments from participants:

    • "The event was very energizing, and renewed my enthusiasm for tackling some complex issues"
    • "This gathering will inform everything I do in IT from here on."
    • "I used to be super intimidated - now I feel more empowered about what I do know and how to find answers to what I don't"
    • "It was a fun, casual, open, responsive learning environment for non-techies"
    • "I learned that I'm not alone, and I can learn from a rich community of people facing similar challenges"
    • "I was impressed with all that happened - it was amazing"

    What were the Goals?

    MNTP had three primary goals:

    • To strengthen the community of practice among those who identify themselves as nonprofit technology project managers
    • To enhance the knowledge and capacity of technology project managers within a rich, sharing environment
    • To map out the range of tools and best practices being employed in nonprofit technology project management

    Participants exchanged project management tools and techniques that they could apply to the management of many projects, and discussed project management processes – from project initiation to project planning, project execution, monitoring and control, to project closure – in the context of stories and experiences. Participants inventoried resources and best practices for nonprofit IT project management, ranging from templates to trainings, and showed useful software packages as they are used in actual nonprofits.

    Significant time was spent discussing appropriate practices and processes for defining requirements in nonprofit software projects to inform the "build, buy, or rent" decisions that vex nonprofit technology managers on a regular basis.

    Who Came?

    MNTP focused on the growing community of nonprofit technology project managers by providing support to those practicing as project managers, recruiting and offering support to those new to (or bewildered by) this craft, and creating a space for the "accidental project managers" to share their stories, discover their allies, and grow into more "intentional" project managers. A significant part of the event was built around mentoring relationships; experienced individuals with knowledge and stories to share collaborated with participants who wanted to learn more.

    Participants were encouraged to bring real-world projects to MNTP, and were met with some real-time project management, coaching, and assessment.

    What was on the Agenda?

    The agenda was designed specifically to ensure participants interacted with and learned from each other, while also providing solid grounding in essential topics. The following workshops were included in the proceedings:

    • Nonprofit Technology Project Management 101: For those who self-identify as new to the discipline, this session provided an overview of nonprofit technology project management. Essential topics, truths, and tools were presented, with the second half of the session employing a question-driven format.
    • Anatomy of a Well-Managed Technology Project: Drawing from case studies good, bad and ugly, this session focused on key aspects of successful project management. The primary take-away was guidelines on how project managers can maintain control of their projects.
    • Designing and Redesigning Web Sites: Any nonprofit that has published a web site understands the frustrating nature of the process. This session considered how best to take on the task of casting organizational identity on the web while also serving target audiences and delivering value to web visitors accordingly.
    • What Should a Web Site Cost? One of the most vexing questions in any project is “what are appropriate costs for technology and labor?” This session utilized anecdotal data and participant input to explore costing for different types of web sites, from simple “brochure-ware” sites to custom, database-backed applications and points in between.
    • Mapping Communication Tools to Tasks: There are a range of ways to collaborate with partners and stakeholders in any project. But which tools work best for which types of collaboration? This session will sort out appropriate times to employ email, instant messaging and chat, wikis, phone calls, file sharing, forums and other tools.
    • Using Wikis for Effective Collaboration: Over the past several years, wikis have demonstrated their value as a key tool in certain project management processes. This session mapped out best practices and techniques for successfully utilizing wiki technology for project collaboration. Also discussed was when not to use wikis, and when more structured information sharing tools are advisable.
    • Selecting and Recommending Tools – The Idealware Process: Laura Quinn described the Idealware methodology for gathering collective software knowledge in specific software categories, as well as their approach to assessing tools and evaluating appropriate uses. Case studies detailed past tool reports, and participants work through key steps in the Idealware process, in a software category decided by the group in the session.
    • Managing Nonprofit Software Development Projects: While a best practice for nonprofits technologists is to try and utilize existing tools and services, there are invariably times when the appropriate tools and applications don't exist. But software development is not a core competency of most nonprofits, and too often nonprofit software development efforts spiral out of control or end in less-than-complete realization of vision. This session will explore how best to get from concept to running code with out losing focus on mission.
    • Managing Consultants and Dealing with Vendors: This peer sharing workshop invited participants to compare their processes and tactics for managing critical project relationships that fall outside of organizational boundaries.
    • Horrific Tales of Miserable Project Management Failure: Nothing is more instructive than the mistakes of others. Participants will be invited to swap stories and cautionary tales of the many speed bumps, pot holes, and multi-vehicles pile-ups on the road to project management success.
    • A Whirlwind Discussion of Project Management Software Utilities: This fast-paced session allowed participants to share the various project management utilities available, including time tracking, task management, source code control, and more.
    • Software Share: Basecamp, MS Project, DreamTeam and more – Nonprofit practitioners provided a variety of 10-15 minute software demos to allow participants to see the packages in real-life situations and compare the strengths and weaknesses.

    Stay informed about key dates and registration information by signing up for our low-volume announcements list

    Help to shape the agenda and focus by joining the agenda discussion list.

    Want more information?

    Contact us at or

    Penguin Day New Orleans

    Event Date(s): 
    March 22, 2008

    Penguin Day New Orleans was a grand success! Participants explored the potential and the role of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in nonprofit organizations, in sessions designed to answer questions and curiosities!


    p>Penguin Day New Orleans took place Saturday, March 22nd, at Basin Street Station, right next to the Easy Rider Cemetery.

    Penguin Day New Orleans was organized by Aspiration, NOSI, PICnet, Joomla! and Chicago Technology Cooperative.

    What in the world is a Penguin Day?

    Are you passionate or curious about the reality, the potential and the role of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in nonprofit organizations? Do you want to learn about latest free and open web publishing tools and technologies? Would you like to meet other like-minded and passionate participants, including developers, activists, and nonprofit "techies"?

    Penguin Day New Orleans will bring together nonprofit technology staff with free and open source software (FOSS) developers for a day of learning and conversation.

    We'll explore and explain open source for nonprofits, frankly address the challenges of developing open source tools for nonprofits, and celebrate strengths and successes of open source in the nonprofit sector. Leading open source innovators in the nonprofit sector will share their stories and knowledge, and focus on answering your questions!

    If you are curious about open source software for your nonprofit organization, Penguin Days are for you!

    Who organized Penguin Day in New Orleans?

    Penguin Day New Orleans was made possible with the help of Aspiration, NOSI, PICnet, Joomla!, Chicago Technology Cooperative, local partners and YOU!

    What will I take away from Penguin Day?

    Penguin Day features a packed agenda of interactive workshops, round tables, and "SpeedGeeks." Topics include:

    • Introduction to Free and Open Source Software for Nonprofits
    • Local resources and who’s-who in the Free/Open Source community
    • Helping techies and non-techies communicate
    • Overview of Free and Open Source desktop applications
    • e-Advocacy platforms
    • Making sense of Free and Open Source Content Management Systems
    • Healthy and Sustainable Free and Open Source Communities
    • How Users Can Influence FOSS Development
    • Business Models for FOSS developers and providers
    • Content Management System (CMS) Crash Courses -- Plone, Joomla, and Drupal
    • Creative Commons and Open Content
    • SpeedGeeking (a lively tour of projects and tools)

    What Are Others Saying About Penguin Days?

    "I had a wonderful time at Penguin Day. It was one of the best IT related conferences I've been to. I'm definitely in a position to help my current and future non-profits with MUCH needed tools. I thank y'all on their behalf. Keep up the good work and positive energy." - Steve Garrison,

    "Penguin Day was great - I had an excellent day - made new friends, put a lot of faces to email addresses, had a whole load of fun - and got introduced to some new applications and distributions! Thanks again to everyone who organised the day, ran sessions etc - it made my 4,500 mile trip worthwhile!" - Ian, from London, UK

    "Penguin Days are a fantastic opportunity to get together with a wide variety of people and understand more about the issues that surround open source. Unlike a lot of conference/gatherings, the emphasis in these is on meeting people and making connections that you carry out of them room. And that works." - Marnie from San Francisco

    "Now on to Penguin Day… Wow. For my part I was impressed by the international scope of the audience, folks from Great Britain, Canada, Kenya, Turkey, Ghana, Chicago and all points in between. The energy was great and the range of topics on the agenda meant there was something for everyone….suffice it to say Penguin Day set the mark against which all other events will be measured in my mind." - John from Chicago


    Since 2004, Penguin Days have been held in Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon; London, England; Toronto, Canada, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Texas and Seattle.

    Hundreds of nonprofit staff, programmers, and activists have attended Penguin Days. Penguin Days feature humorous "SpeedGeeking" sessions (playfully modeled after speed-dating) to bring programmers and organizations together to learn more about each other and free and open source software.

    The Penguin is the symbol adopted in the early days of Linux as the mascot of this growing software movement.

    To register for an upcoming Penguin Day, go to

    About Aspiration: Aspiration, connects nonprofit organizations with software solutions that help them better carry out their work. We want nonprofit organizations to obtain and use the best software to maximize their effectiveness and impact so that they, in turn, can change the world. We identify what is available and what is missing in NGO software arena, and foster relationships, delivery systems, and sustainability strategies between NGOs around the world.

    About PICnet: PICnet, empowers the missions of non-profits through the use of unique open source software solutions. PICnet moves beyond the nuts and bolts of technology, rising to find new and effective ways to assist organizations in meeting their goals.

    About NOSI: NOSI was formed with three goals: to facilitate and encourage the use of free and open source software in the nonprofit sector, to bring nonprofit organizations together with free and open source developers and projects in ways that both can benefit, and to promote the understanding of the ways in which the fundamental values of each are similar.

    5 Things Every Nonprofit Should Know About Their Hosted Data

    Event Date(s): 
    March 12, 2008

    Download the seminar materials.

    As nonprofits increasingly depend on hosted web applications to support their operations and programmatic work, each organization is creating a complex, unique and distributed set of information resources. These assets live on different servers, in different formats, managed by different software, under different licenses, in different jurisdictions. Online storage of membership and supporter databases, mailing lists, web applications, shared documents, remote backups, audio, video, and images comprise a larger volume of the nonprofit information lifeblood each day, but their long-term availability and cohesion is by no means a given.

    And nonprofits are not always cognizant of risks raised by these new software and storage models. Data that is remotely stored can become unavailable and be lost in a number of ways. Ownership of hosted data is not always well-defined or well-understood, and control of hosted data is too often through individual staff members rather than through the organization. Nonprofits working on controversial issues expose themselves to new surveillance risks when information is managed by third parties, and security and backup take on new complexities when data lives outside the physical office. Just knowing where all the data lives is an ongoing challenge.

    But there are concrete steps each nonprofit can take to retain control of their data destiny. The seminar will reflect on 5 critical things each nonprofit should know as they host their data remotely. The session will be interactive and participant driven, with specific scenarios addressed. Bring your hosted data questions!


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