I’ve been hanging around the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford a lot recently. It’s pretty much my favorite place to work on the intersection of technology and non-profits. Lucy Bernholz, who directs the lab, is totally brilliant and is fighting hard for the right things.

Today Digital Impact, which is part of the lab, published a blog post I wrote for them about how I used their tools to overhaul New Music USA‘s policies. Digital Impact makes some great tools to help non-profit organizations address data governance policies without having to accidentally import the practices of for profit companies like Facebook or Uber. If your terms of service is hard to read, or you aren’t sure how to handle your constituents’ data, check out their tools.

One of my hobbies is looking for battles into which I can follow Dr. Bernholz. She writes an annual Blueprint forecast for philanthropy, which is published by the Foundation Center, and, I recently learned, edited by Anne Focke, who seems to have been responsible for most of the arts and culture organizations in Seattle at one time or another. Small world.

This year’s blueprint is a great example of why I like Dr. Bernholz’s work so much. She’s painting a big picture about how digital surveillance, the erosion of legal codes around civil society, and the lack of technological expertise in civil society organizations are threatening the very possibility of free assembly, free association, and the existence of the organizations that a democracy requires to protect minority rights.

A lot of people are talking about pieces of this. It’s easy to look at rented cloud infrastructure as it connects to subpoena response, or personally identifiable information in open data initiatives, or data monopolies being able to extract rents from all kinds of sources for participation in the public square. Dr. Bernholz’s work grabs for all of it, and helps us connect with each other to fight for the world we believe in.

So go read everything else Lucy Bernholz had ever touched. I promise, it’ll be worth it. Start with the 2017 Blueprint.

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