SXSW 2012 Surprises | O/S Tendenci, Mobile Kills Privacy, Space Gets Interactive

Tendenci Heads to SXSW Interactive 2012 to Announce Open Source Plans

If you haven’t yet heard the exciting news, Tendenci announced plans for an open source version of our CMS for nonprofit websites at SXSW Interactive 2012 in Austin, Texas.  There is a press release with all the details and a great blog post from Ed Schipul, CEO and founder.  Check out our photos from SXSW 2012 on our website and there are more coming soon.

SXSW always has a ton of new software tools and web innovations being released and this year was no different.  The big themes for 2012 focused on social discovery mobile apps and Outer Space.  I also brought back some lessons learned about the importance of protecting your users’ personal information and data.

Mobile Apps Invade, Kill Your Privacy

Everywhere you went at SXSW, people were talking about “social discovery” and mobile apps like Highlight, Ban.Jo, and Glancee were being downloaded by attendees.  If you haven’t heard about social discovery mobile apps, then be prepared because this is a little creepy: when you download one of these social discovery apps, you give them permission to access your social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare and then they automatically notify you when anyone of your friends or contacts is nearby.  As in, physically near you – and they also notify your friends and contacts when you are near them if they have the app on their smartphone.

You can be walking into a Starbucks and this app will buzz you and tell you who else you know is in line for their morning cup ‘o joe.  The idea behind social discovery apps is to make it easier for you to find out when your friends are nearby, or people you have been talking to online, so you can meet up with them in real life.  That sounds great – until you remember you accepted that random Facebook friend invite for that friend of a friend of your aunt and now your iPhone is telling you they are nearby and want to chat with you.

Finding the settings to turn off the apps’ automatic discovery and sharing of your location can be near impossible too.  You can read one horror story from TechCrunch journalist, John Biggs, when he talks about how the iPhone social discovery app Highlight basically shared his cell phone number with approximately 140 strangers in an SMS invite fiasco.

Key Lesson Learned – Protect Your Users’ Privacy

I am often asked by our clients about how best to grow your online communities and these apps present challenges that make it too easy to accidentally turn off a potential member and to scare off your website visitors who fear their privacy and personal data isn’t being kept safe.

I don’t want to come down too harshly on social discovery mobile apps and I did download and use the Ban.Jo app while I was at SXSW and had fun using it. I think these apps have a time and a place for using them, and then you uninstall them until the next big social event.  The big problem I had was how hard these apps make it for users to control the privacy settings and allow us to choose exactly what data is public and what is private.

I don’t know about you, but I want the ability to use software applications to store my personal data and to connect with friends and colleagues without having to “sell out” and give up control and ownership of that information.

That’s one of the reasons we’ve focused on building so many permissions options into the Tendenci CMS software: both content-specific permissions to give you full control over who can see and change your website content as well as user and member-based permissions to give your staff and volunteers selective access to do what they needed to on your website without having access to the areas they didn’t need.

The first thing I did when I came back from SXSW was create 2 new Help Files on Tendenci’s permission settings so our website Admins can go and take full control over your site’s content.  You can check them out online and let me know if you have any questions after reading through them:

Tendenci’s Site-Wide Permission Control Settings

Tendenci’s Content-Specific Permission Control Settings

Outer Space

SXSW 2012 showed that Space is still inspiring people to create innovative technologies, build new communities, and play Angry Birds.

SpacePoints: Space Outreach at Ludicrous Speeds! gave me the opportunity to lead a core conversation on crowdsourcing the application development to build online communities.  You can check out the SpacePoints application, now officially in Beta and share your secret space story about what excites and inspires you about space.

How to Win Friends and Influence Space Exploration was a great panel that shared how people passionate about space are meeting online and creating offline friendships while driving innovation in space exploration.  I had a chance to hear from Astronaut Ron Garan and the leaders in aerospace talk about how the Space Tweeps Society, NASA, commercial aerospace companies, and ordinary space nerds were making a difference.

A License to Rhok shared how NASA and the open source community is developing Random Hacks of Kindness (rhok) to solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges.  Developers and Non-Developers alike can get involved and find ways to make a difference and solve global problems through programs like the  International Space Apps Challenge coming in April, and Launch.Org, which is collaboratively led by NASA, USAID, Department of State, and NIKE.

Angry Birds Space Launched in style with a Flash Mob Dance Off in the streets of downtown Austin.  Here’s a video from YouTube:

Meet Us at NTEN’s NTC 2012

Our next excursion to a big conference will be in San Francisco for the NTEN 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) April 2nd through April 6th, 2012.  We’ll be out there learning about what technology problems nonprofits are struggling with and giving attendees the first look at the O/S Tendenci Community CMS.

If you are going to be attending NTC or are in the San Francisco area and want to schedule a demo, send me an email and let’s connect!

You’ll soon be able to download Tendenci’s new open source version and we are looking for developers and designers to partner with us and grow the O/S Tendenci Community and platform.  You can sign-up today for a free trial and find out what Tendenci websites can do to help your nonprofit organization succeed online at!

Check out upcoming Tendenci training webinars and see what events we’ll be at on our events calendar and watch new Tendenci Help Videos weekly!