Posts tagged "empower-and-educate"

Silas Partners and Web 2.0 in the Christian Community

Churches and ministries are really getting into blogging, podcasting, and yes, even social networking sites.

Over the past three months, I’ve been working more and more with these types of organizations through a company called Silas Partners. Silas Partners’ aim is to help churches and the like to use the web more effectively.

As an Internet and web consultant, I’ve enjoyed leveraging my knowledge across various vertical markets. I’ve found the work I’ve done with Silas Partners particularly fulfilling because of the types of clients that they are assisting.

I’m now working with Silas Partners on a regular basis. I dedicate a portion of my week to help Christian organizations think strategically about the Internet and web, as well as educate them about Web 2.0 technologies.

Probably the most exciting part of this space is that churches, ministries, and other Christian organizations are really utilizing the power of the distributed yet intricately networked web.

Case and point, last week, a local D.C. church launched a Week of Justice, whose primary focus was to “educate the church body and members of the community about God’s heart for justice.” They used a Xanga account to get their message out. And the pastor of my church has a MySpace profile. No, I’m not kidding. The service I attend is geared towards young professionals and he uses his blog to continue the dialog with us throughout the week.

I think a winning strategy on the web is not to force people to go where you want them to go. It is to go where they are. It is to invest yourself in their community. I’m certain we will see more and more of that in the coming years.

This entry is part of my series attempting to empower and educate people about Web 2.0 and its uses outside tech circles.

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Video Podcast of Jack Black in Nacho Libre

Nacho Libre is a new film by Jack Black, coming to theatres June – but you can watch his video confessionals via his video podcast (requires iTunes) or an Internet exclusive trailer now. You can also add a clip of that to your MySpace page from the code they provide.

Technology can be used to reach people in a more profound way. Instead of spending absurd amounts of advertising dollars trying to persuade folks to see a movie, get those interested in the film to convince others for you.

All you need to do is empower them. Give them some free behind the scenes footage with Jack Black (who by the way probably had a ball shooting these) that they can can consume and reuse the way they want. I can guarantee you not only will they see the movie, they will be bringing some friends too.

The Cluetrain guys believe the community of discourse is the market. Paramount Pictures is allowing an organic creation of the audience for this movie. That’s not to say they won’t proceed with traditional means too. Instead, they can allocate resources appropriately, knowing what styles of marketing (or unmarketing?) work for different demographics.

Very innovative. Now, if they could just get the Release Date straight.

This entry is part of my week long series attempting to empower and educate people about Web 2.0 and its uses outside tech circles.

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The New Way to Brothering

I have four younger sisters, who are all over the place. The youngest is seven. Since leaving the house back in 1998, it became increasingly difficult to play the role of Big Brother (no, not that one, this one). Luckily, I’ve found a way to infiltrate their little worlds – through IM and social networking sites.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, some of my younger family members don’t even have e-mail addresses. I told my cousin to send me her college applications so I could look them over and she said she couldn’t. She only uses MySpace to message her friends (and I guess my offering to help her wasn’t worth her while to sign-up for one – although, for some reason, I don’t even think she knew that was an option).

The MySpaces of the world are a great way to keep in touch with people. I’ve found them particulalry helpful with my sisters. I know I am not the only one who uses them to communicate with family. One girl I know uses her Xanga account as the primary way to virtually interact with her parents (she lives in VA and they live in TX). My mom has told me that reading my blog makes her feel involved in my life, even though she is in NY and I am in D.C. I am not at the point where my parents are leaving comments for me but that might not be that far off (they prefer instead to e-mail me).

Another good example of their use is from my trip to the Olympics. I met some folks who were also on social networking sites. Instead of them just giving me their e-mail address or phone number, they were added to my group of friends. In the event that I visit Los Angeles, I can just click on their pics and message them.

Social networking sites could easily develop into a sort of online Rollodex. As they continue to mature, I am sure the relationships formed within these sites will be refined beyond just the “friends” in your circle. They will give the opportunity to define contacts as “colleagues”, “friends”, or “family”, for example. And hopefully, they will be smart enough to present various access levels, so that if I wanted, my co-worker wouldn’t have access to the information a family member would.

The web facilitates some powerful and fun social connectivity, even when geographic proximity is not possible. I am thankful for that, although the guys who are trying to hit on my sisters probably aren’t.

This entry is part of my week long series attempting to empower and educate people about Web 2.0 and its uses outside tech circles.

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University 2.0 and Boston College’s John Gallaugher

As a Computer Science undergrad at Boston College, I regretfully admit that I only took one business class. But the one class I took was more than worth it.

Professor John Gallaugher taught me how to think about the Internet and web strategically. His eCommerce class in some ways put me on the career path I’m now walking. After the conclusion of my senior year, I pursued my grad studies at Penn and did my best to take as many Internet and web strategy courses I could. And that was largely motivated by Professor Gallaugher.

Since graduating in 2002, I’ve been able to keep up with Professor Gallaugher’s research through his Week in Geek website. It’s the place he puts the syllabi for students and posts interesting Information System readings. I think many of you will really enjoy the Week in Geek.

Recently, he added a new feature, a podcast of his eCommerce lectures. I listened to a lecture yesterday and the only thing that disappointed me (besides less than perfect audio quality) was that I couldn’t respond to his questions.

I actually spoke to Professor Gallaugher over the summer, in seeking his advice about my start-up. He was just catching up on Web 2.0 but had some valuable pointers. WiG would indicate that he is now very much up to speed.

What is turning out to be an incredibly long project due to tremendous time and resource constraints, is working with him and some of his students to transform WiG to a blog. Professor Gallaugher is both blessed and cursed with technical abilities. He currently codes WiG in HTML by hand. It is a blessing because many professors lack the ability to get stuff up on the web. It is a curse because he does it so much that it becomes a bottleneck and inefficient time waster. Writing this entry, however, gives me new inspiration to try to put life back into this effort.

University 2.0 or perhaps Education 2.0 is the ultimate way that we can ensure learning really never stops. I’d love to read the blogs or listen to the podcasts of some of the professors and teachers I had throughout high school and college (ok, I don’t want to read anything about Advanced Calculus or Abstract Mathematics). Professor Gallaugher is a pioneer for University 2.0, like my fellow Corante Network colleagues Mark Hamilton and Bud Gibson are. Stanford definitely is too, offering a large number of lectures via iTunes. These are just a couple of examples but good ones at that.

And if you think that this sort of education has to occur while you are sitting at home in front of your computer, you’ll definitely want to read about what Robin Good calls MLearning. In the famous words of John Gallaugher, that gives me Geek Goosebumps (on a lighter and unrelated note, you’ll definitely want to check out this page Professor Gallaugher created for his second child, Maggie – very funny).

This entry is part of my week long series attempting to empower and educate people about Web 2.0 and its uses outside tech circles.

Empower a Steve 2.0

Two weekends ago, I went on a little trip with some of my old buddies who I rarely see any more. We caught up on a lot of things, including what I had been up to with TECHNOSIGHT. Yes, the geek jokes flowed but they also were really interested to learn more about blogs, podcasts, and RSS.

Based on our talks, one of my buds – Steve – was even inspired enough to go start his own blog the Monday after we returned. In his first post, he wrote:

This will be a learning experience for anyone reading this. I think it will also be a revealing lesson in capturing my own thoughts and concerns. I study foreign affairs and work with many men and women who have made it a career. The broader question is “do I actually care about all this?” Is it a thought experiment or something that captures my own heart when I write about war crimes or global inequity? I honestly don’t know the answer but I’m hoping to move just a bit closer by sharing my thoughts with you.

The reason I mention Steve is because he is not a super techy guy. In fact, many of my readers won’t necessarily be interested in what he wants to write about – foreign affairs. But I’m psyched that he’s up and running. We don’t need more tech blogs out there, we need more voices like Steve’s. We need people who will social bookmarking links that aren’t related to AJAX or Ruby on Rails. It’s only then that Web 2.0 technologies will truly move into the mainstream. It’s only then that Web 2.0 will become legitimized. It’s only then that there will be a much richer web, one that is much more useful to those outside tech circles.

After Steve’s first post, he asked me how to use RSS, so I directed him to my RSS lens on Squidoo. Hours later and independent of me, Steve had created his own lens on Foreign Affairs (he created a subsequent lens the next day).

I find two things encouraging: 1) Squidoo was easy enough for him to create lens without my assistance. 2) I think it is a good sign that his lens are already doing better than mine. After all, using technology to talk about blogs and RSS is sort of paradoxical.

What’s the moral of the story (as if there are morals in the world of Web 2.0)? It’s time we stop fawning over ‘the next big thing’ and really start focusing on educating people about the great stuff already available on the web. Don’t presume that your friends and family know what podcasting is – my experience has taught me they don’t. Don’t presume that they know about a better browser – as I walked a friend through Firefox yesterday, he was absolutely enthralled.

People are hungry for new things on the web. Let’s share the wealth. Go empower a Steve 2.0 of your own.