Social media and the mortgage crisis

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Rob is doing some interesting work with KTEC in St Louis in response to the mortgage crisis. This is a pilot for a project that could roll out across NPR stations across the US. They’re trying to help communities act together more effectively to support people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Part of the challenge is to break through the isolation that those faced with foreclosure experience because of shame. One good reason why their neighbours could gain from the loss of isolation is it may help forestall the ripple effect: if the house next door stands empty the value of your house goes down too – helping push you into negative equity.

Now traditionally NPR was part of broadcast media and would only address these issues as news, dispensing advice (and probably more anxiety) from the centre. They could perhaps have been part of the problem more than the solution. So they’re working here to facilitate community, quite a different emphasis.

There’s no magic answers to issues like this; what’s needed are experiments, which is what Rob’s project seems to be about.

One aspect that interests me is the use of ning to co-ordinate the project. Rob’s whole post is worth a read, but here are some excerpts. Some interesting core principles: transparency; the avoidance of crude taxonomies that could distract from appreciating emergence; leadership as facilitation…

Everything on Ning is searchable so we don’t have to worry about a taxonomy that we could never keep up with. Later when we have to go back and discover why we did something, we only have to use a key word to find out…

We use the Forum section for group reports. Here the PM, Ross, calls in public for our weekly task and outcomes. It’s all public – you are late or ineffective – it’s brutally clear. So Ross will be less and less the herder of cats and we all have to take more responsibility to do our job. There is no hiding here!…

Jack is always watching! A critical issue in moving fast but also safe is the paradox that in the end the CEO is responsible but if we make him the bottleneck for all decisions, then we fail.

The nature of the Site means that Jack can and does see everything. So CEO becomes the facilitator rather than the barrier for speed and safety.

Total transparency – we have not only all of us who have jobs on the project on the Team Site but we also have members from CPB, from PBS, from Stations, from our Measurement Team, from Social Media Advisers. We are doing all the work in full view of our peers and our client. They see not only the good work but our struggles too.

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