Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Conference Welcome and Prep

Jason here...Welcome everyone, I'm really looking forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones in a few weeks at Hollyhock. You have made a wise choice in choosing to attend.

What I initially want to know from every participant is, what are the top 2 burning issues in your work as it relates to the web, tech, or social change right now? Take any tack you'd like: a tool, an organizational challenge, funding for what you dream about, your own leadership - whatever. What matters most to you now?

Jason has asked for two burning issues....
As an instructional designer in an institution where the delivery of courses is mainly online and whose mission statement is "To excel at the provision of continuous learning for people in the workplace" I guess my issues relate to what I would call information/technology literacy:
1. keeping current but ensuring that new "tools" will be used in a non-gratuitous and relevant manner
2. helping the folks who use my work (especially the faculty who work with me in course creation) to also keep current and use the materials in a non-gratuitous and relevant manner

It appears that I am the first to post here... I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has to say and realize that my work is probably a lot different from what others are doing and my issues may be somewhat "out there".


p.s. by the way, I used the option of creating my own blog so here's the link
My top 2 burning issues:

- The Generation Gap: do we have to develop a way to deal with the old-timers, or can we wait for the script kiddies to push us ahead? As I left my job at AIDEnvironment, I think I've met most of the environmental government agencies and worked with the few that understood what internet can be (beyond "gimme a website"). One week later, for my first real project as "myself", I was at Ecotopia, a youth eco gathering (http://ecotopia.nl/), where people were explaining each other how to organise yourself with wikis. Around 87% of people in the Netherlands from 12-24 years use the internet, while it drops under 50% for 50+.

As I move along the age line, how do I make the transition from trying to step slowly and push the older people to keeping up with the younger, and help focus their often unbounded energy and skills?

- The Catalyst Challenge: a bit of a semantic shift and a bit of a role shift. Rather than working on "leadership" which evokes feelings of being decisive, an inspiring role model, or someone to follow, I'm looking for better ways to bring in other skills, and personally also in such a way that I contribute in making a change or decision happen faster or with less stress or resource inputs. As a facilitator, as a researcher, as an analyst, as a developer, in a team where others bring in "leadership" and all the other necessary skills.

(I use the metaphor "catalyst" to indicate it's about a process that would happen anyway, but maybe only under higher pressure, different speed, ... But unlike a chemical catalyst, I usually leave the process in a transformed way myself ^_^)
Hmmm... my two burning-est issues...

1) How do we integrate "triple-bottom line values" into the mainstream of society? These values have been marginalized to the point where their backers are seen as "special interest" groups rather people working for the "public interest." How do we use new information and communication technologies to help mediate a new type of relationship between people and the public interest?

2) When public interest groups and movements are as fragmented as they currently are, how do we build concentrated political and economic power at the local level?

- Gideon Rosenblatt
My name is Chris Lawson and I work for the Canadian Union of Public Employees. With more than half a million members, we're Canada's largest union.

I only have one burning computer-mediated communication issue: why is it that when we build it, they don't come?

Hi folks,

I'm Melanie McBride, a writer/researcher and blogger based in Toronto. I was unable to physically attend so I'm glad the blog is up because it allows me to have a virtual experience of some of the conversations. This is one example of how a blog can remove barriers to participation.

I wanted to speak to Chris's question "why is it that when we build it, they don't come?"

I actually have a link to CUPE from my blog so
you're doing something right ;-)

The reason I linked to CUPE is because I view it as an important news source. In fact, you've got so much regularly updated content (an attractive feature for any website).

I have a radical suggestion but I think it's well worth a shot. What I think you could do is encorporate a few blogging features into your news items. I like how you have the PDF, email, and printer links but I think you need a couple more options for those of us who are interested and willing to circulate your information (something you can't always count on the traditional media to do) for free. By providing readers/bloggers with "trackback" (or "pingback") and "permalink" you are inviting and encouraging the circulation of those stories. And this could be the difference in traffic you're looking for. Believe it or not bloggers make a big difference when you invite them to participate and they make up a massive majority of online readers - and many stories are syndicated through blogs before the mainstream media gets the message that people really care about a particular issue or news story. Just look at the US presidential campaigns! The DNC actually had "credentialled" bloggers writing alongside folks from the NYTimes. My argument doesn't just apply to your site but all sites.

Bottom line: encorporate trackback/pingback or permalink and see what happens. The circulation CUPE articles by bloggers could really make a difference.

Here's more information on how trackback works:

Poster: Melanie McBride
URL: http://chandrasutra.typepad.com
Just wanted to wish everybody at WOC all the best and much success with your objectives - professional, creative, and otherwise. I'm looking forward to hearing about the conference!

Melanie McBride
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