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Most Highly Recommended Resources

These resources are recommended highly by NCDD for many reasons. Some are highly regarded by practitioners or scholars. Some have caused a buzz in the field. Some have proven themselves to be highly effective when put into practice. And some are just the best resources of their kind. As these distinctions are highly subjective, we are open to your feedback and ideas for other resources we should recommend.

Here are all of the resources in this category that NCDD recommends most highly.

Ascentum Highly Recommended

Ascentum is a Canada-based professional services firm that combines a unique technology expertise with specialized management consulting services. Dialogue Circles is Ascentum's intermodal approach to consultation that aims to maximize the synergies between the traditional and online worlds of consultation and dialogue. Dialogue Circles provides clients with the flexibility to hold online or traditional consultation and dialogue. According to Ascentum, many of the most successful consultation and dialogue endeavors now involve a mix of online tools and traditional face-to-face approaches that complement one another.

Resource Link: http://www.ascentum.ca

Change.org Highly Recommended

Launched in February 2007, Change.org is a community platform that creates a social network for over 1 million nonprofit organizations. Each organization has free access to an online dashboard through which they can review activity on their network and directly engage with their supporters by posting fundraising projects, events, photos, videos, news stories and blog entries. Change.org enables nonprofit organizations to harness the power of social networking technology to build community around their organization and extend their reach and social impact.

Resource Link: http://change.org

Do Tank and the Democracy Design Workshop Highly Recommended

The Do Tank strives to strengthen the ability of groups to solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflict and govern themselves by designing software and legal code to promote collaboration. Tools alone cannot create a culture of strong groups. Hence Do Tank projects address the role of legal and political institutions, social and business practices and the visual and graphical technologies -- what we term the "social code" -- that may allow groups, not only to foster community, but to take action.

Resource Link: http://dotank.nyls.edu/

Drupal Highly Recommended

Drupal is an open source content management platform. Equipped with a powerful blend of features, Drupal can support a variety of websites ranging from personal weblogs to large community-driven websites. Drupal is a free software package that allows an individual or a community of users to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. Tens of thousands of people and organizations have used Drupal to power scores of different web sites, including community web portals, discussion sites, corporate websites, intranet applications, personal websites or blogs, aficionado sites, e-commerce applications, resource directories and social networking sites. Drupal is ready to go from the moment you download it, and has an easy-to-use web installer.

Resource Link: http://drupal.org

E-Democracy.Org / Minnesota E-Democracy Highly Recommended

Minnesota E-Democracy is a non-partisan citizen-based organization whose mission is to improve participation in democracy in Minnesota through the use of information networks and communication technologies. Minnesota E-Democracy was established in 1994 and created the world's first election-oriented website. They sponsor election-year online partnerships to promote citizen access to election information and interaction. Their year-round focus is on the use of the Internet to improve citizen participation and real world governance through online discussions and information and knowledge exchange.

Resource Link: http://www.e-democracy.org

Full Circle Associates Highly Recommended

The consulting practice of Nancy White and a network of independent professionals, Full Circle Associates provides strategic communication, online community development, facilitation, marketing, and project management services for the community, non-profit and business sectors. Full Circle focuses on online and offline strategies with a passionate interest in online community and collaboration, and provides training in online facilitation and distance collaboration.

Resource Link: http://www.fullcirc.com

Hosting Web Communities: Building Relationships, Increasing Customer Loyalty, and Maintaining a Competitive Edge Highly Recommended

Cliff Figallo.

A great 'how to' book on the subject. Topics include a taxonomy of online communities and their differing needs, choosing software, facilitating discussions, building relationships, and revenue models. The author knows the territory extremely well, having played a key role in developing communities at The WELL, America Online, and Salon Magazine.

OpenSpace Online Highly Recommended

Change Facilitator Gabriela Ender and her team from Germany developed the internet real-time methodology OpenSpace-Online, which promotes autonomous, responsible, respectful, and results-oriented collaboration. Available in German and English, the Internet Conference method features successive phases in which 5 to 75 people can work simultaneously. The participants work together in a goal and solution-oriented manner for 2 to about 8 hours.

Resource Link: http://www.openspace-online.com

Option Technologies, Inc. Highly Recommended

Option Technologies provides interactive tools that improve group collaboration and decision-making in either face-to-face or multi-site meetings. Ideal for immediate assessment or rating lists of brainstormed ideas 'on-the-fly,' OTI's OptionFinder technology polls meeting participants who then respond from their pocket PC, computer, or wireless keypad. OTI's facilitator-friendly solutions include easy-to-use, PowerPoint-based software and portable, cost-effective response keypad options. AmericaSpeaks uses Option Technologies for the keypads each participant uses during their 21st Century Town Meetings.

Resource Link: http://www.optiontechnologies.com

Partnerships Online Highly Recommended

David Wilcox's Partnerships Online site focuses on collaboration, including how technology can help people build partnerships, networks, participation. The Partnerships Online site is a mix of personal observations and insights from projects Wilcox works on with other people, mainly in the UK. It includes blog items, web pages and bookmarks mainly focused on how to make collaborations work through facilitation in workshops and online, with various digital technologies.

Resource Link: http://www.partnershipsonline.org.uk

Politalk Highly Recommended

Politalk is a nonpartisan forum for moderated email discussions on important social and political topics of the day. Politalk was founded in 1999 as a response to the often shallow ranting that seems to dominate so many internet discussions. Politalk hoped to distinguish itself in three ways: by focusing on only one topic at a time for a limited period of time (2-4 weeks); by having an active moderator to keep the discussion on topic and civil; and by inviting guest commentators to add depth to the discussions. Politalk plans and hosts online events and forums, and provides consultation, workshops and training sessions.

Resource Link: http://www.politalk.org

SurveyMonkey.com Highly Recommended

Powerful yet simple tools for designing online surveys, collecting responses and analyzing the results. Both 'basic' (free) and 'professional' (pretty affordable) subscriptions available.

Resource Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com

Virtual Agora Project Highly Recommended

The Virtual Agora Project was a 3-year e-democracy project run by Carnegie Mellon University's Institute for the Study of Information Technology and Society (InSiTeS) and funded generously by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). The research team, led by faculty members Peter M. Shane, Peter Muhlberger and Robert Cavalier, sought to develop and test software that would enable large numbers of citizens to use the Internet more effectively to learn about, deliberate and act upon community issues.

Resource Link: http://virtualagora.org

Web Lab's Small Group Dialogue Process Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Web Lab's Small Group Dialogue (SGD) Process is a more perfect discussion tool built to foster intimate, high-quality online exchanges. By limiting group size and lifespan, Small Group Dialogue emphasizes each member's value, encouraging a sense of belonging and an investment in frequent visits. The result is a structured experience requiring minimal intervention, and an astonishing signal-to-noise ratio unmatched in any conventional online dialogue model.

Resource Link: http://www.weblab.org

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