Friday, May 13, 2011

Zanby goes open-source

Photo by Paul Smith

Big news! We announced today at the Open Gov West conference that we're taking Zanby open source. The announcement reads:

As of May 13, 2011, we are releasing the code for our community software platform, the Zanby Enterprise Group Family System, under a GPLv3 license. We are also launching a community to encourage software developers to collaborate with us to evolve and improve the Zanby codebase. We hope you will join us.

Zanby’s business approach, products, and strategy for change are built on the belief that collaboration is a market imperative. As our global problems and opportunities expand in scope to include almost anyone on the planet, the need to collaborate effectively locally and globally, across geography, culture, and organizational and societal boundaries will become ever more urgent. We urgently need to collaborate better and we need to get better at the technology and scale of collaboration.

Read the full announcement
Friday, April 22, 2011

Equity & Opportunity on Citizens' Minds in King County

How do you feel about the state of equity and economic opportunity in King County? What do those terms mean to you? And what, if anything, should county government do to help address disparities -- along ethnic and economic lines, as well as between urban and rural areas? That's the topic of discussion in the latest round of Countywide Community Forums launched this week in King County, Washington.

Twice a year, this innovative citizen-engagement program invites the public to weigh in on a topic the King County government is wrestling with. At CCF's Zanby-powered website, anyone who lives or works in King County can register as a volunteer Citizen Councilor, watch a brief video overview of the current topic, discuss the topic in a face-to-face meeting or online forum, and take a survey to register your opinion. Survey results are then compiled and presented to county leaders to help them make better decisions about how to shape policy and use the county's scarce resources more effectively.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bombing in Belarus

By now you have probably heard that a bomb exploded yesterday on the Metro in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Monday, April 11, killing 12 and injuring 200.

We wanted to let you know that the Zanby/Warecorp engineering staff and their families are all OK. This event happened several miles away from our offices, and our operations were not disrupted.

Our thoughts go out to those who were caught in this incident.

For the latest news on this unfolding event, see Wikipedia's article "2011 Minsk Metro bombing."

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Videos from the Coworking Unconference

On March 10, 2011, Chris and Leif were in Austin, Texas, where Global Contribution, Zanby and The UpTake sponsored the livestream of the first-ever U.S. Coworking Unconference, an inspiring gathering of entrepreneurs and community organizers who are reinventing the way we work. Thanks to Anna Thomas and the LooseCubes crew for organizing such a great gathering.

Here are archived videos of some of the sessions. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the archiving of the livestream, and we didn't get everything on tape. These are all the sessions we were able to retrieve and upload from tape. To embed them on your own blog, just click "Share" at the bottom right of the video player to copy the embed code.

Keynote: Coworking And The Future of Everything (16:22)
Tony Bacigalupo, cofounder of New Work City

Watch live streaming video from theuptake2 at

Note: Our tape ran out about a minute before the end of Tony's talk. He's planning to record a dramatic reenactment of his grand finale, which we'll post here and on the Livestream channel.

Breakout: Space Owner Success Stories, Or... Things I Wish I Knew
Moderated by Susan Evans of Office Nomads and Andy Stoll

Part 1 (42:50)

Part 2 (12:47)

Closing Panel: George Jetson is My Coworker - The Roles of Coworking Beyond Tomorrow
Alex Hillman (mod), Julian Nachtigal, Angel Kwiatkowski, Jacob Sayles, Neal Gorenflo, Steve King

Part 1 (34:43)

Part 2 (12:35)

Again, all these videos are all embeddable, should you want to post them to your own blogs. Just click "Share" at bottom right on any of the above video players.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Welcome SoapBlox to the family

Zanby has a new sibling! A few weeks ago, our sister company Warecorp acquired SoapBlox, a blogging platform and thriving community of storytellers, activists, and citizen journalists.
SoapBlox is a blog platform built to enable online community participation. Not only does it do what Wordpress and Blogger do, but a SoapBlox blog allows community members to easily publish their own content.

Especially popular among political bloggers, SoapBlox powers nearly 150 influential sites like Pam's House Blend, Burnt Orange Report, Minnesota Campaign Report, and the official blogs of many state Democratic parties and progressive organizations. Here's the complete list of SoapBlox sites.

As CEO Chris Dykstra explained on the SoapBlox blog:

We took over hosting and system administration duties from Paul a little over two years ago. Our work with it grew to the point purchasing the platform seemed like a logical extension of our work.  We couldn't be happier to about the development.  It is especially important to us that we keep this community of content creators up and running...
Warecorp, along with its sister organizations, Zanby and The UpTake, works to build more connected, more informed, more sustainable communities. In that regard, SoapBlox is joining an extended family of 80 employees and over 1,000 volunteers with an amazing array of stories to be told. 

We'd like to extend a warm welcome to the latest addition to our family.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day from Zanby

Happy Valentine's Day to all of our clients and friends! Thank you for all that you do to build community in service of sustainability, transparency, human rights, personal integrity, civic engagement, tax fairness, shared prosperity, and more.

We ran across this cool NASA photo of a heart-shaped gas cloud today on Discover's Bad Astronomy blog:

This image is of a region called W5, part of a bigger complex of gas and dust shining 6000 light years away in the constellation of Cassiopeia. The resemblance to a Valentine is remarkable!

What you're actually seeing here is an enormous star-forming factory 150 light years across. Deep in its (haha) heart massive, hot, and bright stars are being born. When they switch on for the first time, they blast out a flood of ultraviolet light as well as a fierce wind of subatomic particles. These eat away at the cloud from the inside-out, forming an enormous cavity. It's the edges of this cavity that form the cosmic valentine.

We're especially fond of cosmic imagery like this because nothing illustrates nature's habit of forming groups (and groups of groups) better than galaxies -- which are groups of star systems, which are groups of  planets and asteroids, which are groups of... you get the picture. We look forward to continuing to work with you building the infrastructure to support movements for a greener, kinder, more prosperous world.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Countywide Community Forums Gets Shoutout from Tim O'Reilly

Zanby client Countywide Community Forums of King County, an innovative citizen engagement program in Seattle, has been getting national attention lately. Most recently, technosage Tim O'Reilly, the man who coined the terms "Web 2.0" and "Gov 2.0", gave CCF this glowing shoutout on the blog of his latest project, Civic Commons, an important new directory of tools and resources for open government. O'Reilly thanks CCF for generously handing over the "" and ".net" domains, then goes on to describe the program:

Countywide Community Forums is actually an interesting Gov 2.0 effort itself. They provide civic engagement forums and surveys designed to give elected officials an accurate picture of what their constituents are thinking; equally importantly, the forums are a place for those constituents to discuss issues with each other. The forums are designed to enable diffuse opinion to coalesce into something coherent — a kind of smoothing factor for representative democracy. We’ve seen other tools that do this (think IdeaScale); the innovative touch here is that it’s both online and in-person, and is specifically designed for citizen engagement with elected officials. CCF even provides videos to help people learn how to facilitate in-person events more productively.

This is all happening in a pretty big venue: King County is the 14th-largest county in the United States, home to the city of Seattle (the county seat), but extending well beyond the city, into rural areas. CCF is part of a public-private partnership with the county government, under the 2007 “The Easy Citizen Involvement Initiative”, with the forums and surveys used to give the county government feedback about budget priorities (and getting a fair amount of notice for it: see some of these other articles about CCF, in particular this September 2010 Seattle Times Op-Ed).

What O'Reilly doesn't mention is that the technology powering the CCF website is Zanby. To be more precise, the site, which the Zanby team built last summer, uses a combination of technologies, integrated via APIs, to deliver a rich set of tools for measuring the opinions of citizens on tough issues facing the King County government. The stack of technologies powering the site includes:

  • Zanby: The heart of the CCF program is an online community powered by Zanby's unique group-management platform, with message boards and a calendar of off-line events, hosted by Zanby on a SaaS basis. When a "forum round" is open, anyone who lives or works in King County can register as a volunteer "citizen councilor" and join an online discussion or browse a map and calendar of in-person meetings in cafes, libraries and living rooms across the county. A 15-minute video produced by CCF staff gives an overview of the current topic. After the discussion, participants fill out a survey, online or on paper. Survey results are then tabulated and delivered as a report to the County Auditor and Council.
  • Wordpress: CCF staff use a Wordpress CMS to post information promoting the program and links to news stories relevant to the current discussion topic. A custom module allows a single-signon between the Wordpress site and the Zanby community.
  • VoterVoice: During registration, a user's home or work address is authenticated via the VoterVoice API to ensure they live or work in King County.
  • Salsa CRM: The Zanby user database is synced with CCF's constituent DB via the Salsa API.
  • SurveyGizmo: After discussing the topic of the current forum round, users can take an online survey via SurveyGizmo. Responses are anonymized, but SurveyGizmo tells Salsa when a user has completed the survey, to prevent multiple responses.
  • Forum Foundation: Raw data from SurveyGizmo and paper surveys from in-person meetings are fed into the Forum Foundation's "Opinionnaire(R)" analysis software, which CCF staff use to generate the final report to the county government.

We're thrilled to see the CCF program get this much-deserved attention, and from no less a figure than the intellectual father of the open government movement.

Labels: , , , , , ,