Salsa Scoop> NetSquared Awards -- Announcement and Controversy

NetSquared Awards -- Announcement and Controversy

Tags: blog:net2  |  blog:nptech
Balloting for the NetSquared Innovation Fund has been completed and winners will apparently be named within hours. Let me state at the outset that I didn't feel I had sufficient knowledge of even a decently representative span of the projects and proposing organizations, nor time to acquire it, in order to cast a ballot in good faith -- only so many hours in a day, and all that. Since we're also neither a nominee nor a donor organization, there's no ox of ours being even remotely gored. The affair has stirred up a couple of potentially divisive-but-elucidating points of controversy. I was grateful to see David Geilhufe's commentary on the "high school popularity contest" nature of the voting on Monday. Having received a number of "vote for me" pitches from some of the organizations in question who obviously mass-mailed their e-mail lists -- and far from subverting the process, "get out the vote" was an explicit stage of the granting procedure -- I'd been a little troubled by the inherent conflict between "everyone votes" (and the concomitant promotional/member-building function for NetSquared) and the stated object of the fund to identify disruptive, innovative edge projects. Far be it from me to entrust for allocations of charitable capital my unalloyed faith to the inborn sagacity of fourth-generation descendants of robber barons. But we're dealing with the medium that spawned the verb "to Freep". Albert Ruesga's comment here for the Throngz proposal -- which I actually like quite a bit and which reads as very deployable and well specced-out -- was an interesting counterpoint for me to the mass-mailed GOTV drives that some organizations obviously sent to their lists. I wonder how well a project like Throngz will compete with those submitted by groups that have standing mailing lists in five or six figures ... or to put it more abstractly, how the votes will compare to the "expert" ballots. We should have an idea shortly. I'll be interested to see whether it's just a list of 20, or whether the vote totals are released as well. This morning, charity bombthrower Holden busted out his own list of frustrations about the process and what he charges is the unexamined community kumbaya cant. (Holden, who blogs at GiveWell, has frustration as a default setting.) The NetSquared folks have been admirably open to criticism and suggestions -- and explained some of their reasoning in an FAQ -- and it'll be interesting to see what changes are made next year. At the end of the day -- today, that is -- it isn't yet a watershed but an interesting, promising first trial -- that for now remains one funding opportunity among many, and a single data point among many projects and experiments relevant to the charitable sector.


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