From a few years back, here’s a guide I created for sharing digital skills with a social slant.
There comes a point where banging on about something specific becomes futile or in my case, the thing simply embeds itself into my processes. The point in question is the rate of tech evolution / mutation… call it what you like, and how we as humans, collectively keep track. The mantra still seems to be ‘it’s about the people, not the technology‘ and yes, it (still) is, but I want to hang some bumph off that.
Could our advances in technology give us a glimpse into how we could be? Is it down to us collectively to instigate positive change?. And maybe there’s the thing. With everything web wise going social crazy, to me, this consumer driven world we live in, just isn’t on the same plane as what the tech is showing us. Too much social content seems to be about self promotion. It’s weird in a way that it’s like the machines are trying to tell us something and we’re generally ignoring it.
To what cost? For how long? We applaud achievements during a sporting ceremony while at the same time, countless numbers are killed through preventable causes. True madness right there. But I can’t dwell on that (maybe I should).
So maybe we can learn from technology but it’s got to a point where it feels like things are going beyond comprehension. How long ago would a statement like ‘Nexus Prime running Android ice cream sandwich‘ actually mean anything? How many people would understand it today? Are we living in the unknown? Generally we fear the unknown. We seek safety zones, comfort in stuff we’re confident with. But how relevant are old systems, policies, models etc in the face of things? the (overused) Anthony Robbins quote “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” seems so appropriate right now.
So when I ask the question ‘How do you teach the future?‘ it’s more about me not knowing what these new approaches are, but understanding in creative processes and I recognise that now is the time to be creative in how we deal with the future-now. Maybe it’s going to take an awful lot more folk to get their creativity flowing if we stand any chance of saving Sarah Conner come to think of it.
I just wanted to post a quick thought or two prior to the Guardian online Q&A regarding social media and social enterprise. No idea how interesting it’s going to be and it’s the first time I’ve done one of these so while I tweeted about my approach earlier in the week, I can see me being more of a lurker. We’ll see how it goes. I guess from the ‘pulling no punches’ line I think we should be honest with how the social web is affecting our businesses and changing world around us. The web should be a place where we can discuss the challenges ahead and not use it merely as a channel to push our wares.
How are we doing in adapting to the changes technology brings?
I think it’s worth mentioning here that We Share Stuff is currently working on an event that will look into what could be described as the mostly unregulated and largely voluntary area of social media practice tutoring / mentoring. As we see more and more training events and ‘masterclasses’ in social media cropping up, the ethics of the social web is arguably quite relevant right now. Watch this space for more.
So yes, i’m looking at joining the dots here. I feel social enterprises should do all they can to make the most of the social web. And by that I don’t mean it in terms of sales.
With a staggering 500 million + active users and an ever increasing range of applications, is Facebook becoming ‘the’ web for a lot of people? This time last year, an incident where a blog post about Facebook ranked higher on Google than Facebook itself, provided a good indication on how people use search functions and how Facebook is for many, the only place to go. Will Facebook provide or become ‘the’ social operating system?
It could be argued that Facebook provides a useful introduction to the web (in a digital inclusion sense), providing file sharing, location updates, events etc. The flipside of which could lead to a lack of exploration and confidence to try other things outside of the service. Amongst this mix should we also think about the relevance and importance of choice? A wider selection of services, information and applications obviously exists outside Facebook. (but it’s all still pretty much down to the developers and programmers who provide these ‘choices’ which is a debate in itself) but are users overwhelmed by these external choices? Does Facebook’s limitations add to a culture of consuming rather than creating? Are we content with Facebook?
Should we actively encourage people to explore outside Facebook? Can we provide enough valid reasons for them to do so? I think we should. I’m in the throws of knocking up a resource that could help the debate along a little (watch this space). While Facebook seems like the one stop shop for everything social, it’s a very controlled environment that limits what users can actually do. I’m all for encouraging people to experiment and venture outside their comfort zones so therefore, while I’m not ‘anti-facebook’ (I use it myself on both a personal and work level), I want to promote the social web as something much more than Facebook could ever be.
So if Facebook is your ‘home’. How about stepping outside and having a little wander around? you might meet a few new people, visit a few new places… Who knows you may even fly the nest and settle down elsewhere.
If you’ll forgive the indulgence we are rather proud to tell people that We Share Stuff Birmingham Ltd this week became We Share Stuff Birmingham C.I.C.
We’ve been working on this for a while, and are pleased to have cemented our social enterprise aims into the organisation. It won’t make any difference to the way that we operate.: put simply, we knew that we were working to make our community a better place but this makes it official.
“Community interest companies (CIC) are a new type of limited company designed specifically for those wishing to operate for the benefit of the community rather than for the benefit of the owners of the company. This means that a CIC cannot be formed or used solely for the personal gain of a particular person, or group of people.”
Thanks to iSE who gave us a lot of support during the process.
In association with the Neighbourhood Manager for Soho Finger & Gib Heath and the Chamberlain Forum’s Resident University we’re happy to be supplying two free Understanding Social Media courses. One is a short drop-in session for those who would like to know more, and the second is an OCN Accredited 10-hour course, both are free to residents, call Colin on 0121 675 2683 if you’d like to attend.
Join We Share Stuff for the second episode of our new podcast: ‘The Social Gas’ exploring how social media and technology can help social enterprises save time, reach people and collaborate.
This week we’re looking at Google Docs, the online suite of services provided by Google which includes a range of really useful tools for free: a word processor, spreadsheet, Powerpoint-style presentations and a lot more. As many businesses are feeling the pinch with the recession, how can we make the most of these?
You can listen to the podcast here (and even make your own notes on the Soundcloud page) or download.
If you use iTunes you can subscribe here to receive updates automatically.
If you’ve got any questions about how Google Docs could work for your non-profit, ask them in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them. Next time we’re going to take a look at Linked:IN and how you might use the most work-focused of social networks.
We Share Stuff has decided to become a Community Interest Company, it suits our aims of making sure we work towards supporting the right people. We’ve had a lot of support in doing this, from our accountant, from the team at i se and other people offering advice. And then we got a bit stuck.
You see, this is a legal process and we have to submit a number of fairly complicated documents. Helpfully, or so you’d think, The CIC Regulator has model documents on its website for interested companies to use. But they’re in Microsoft Word format and we only have macs or linux machines, and use open source software for both principle and cost reasons wherever we can.
Opening them in Open Office, Google Docs, (even Apple’s Pages which I happen to have) and other programs that usually do okay with that format can’t cope with the complex numbering—and render them pretty useless as getting them right is very important and a mistake could be legally costly. Even downloading a trial version of Office for mac didn’t work—it wouldn’t have been a permanent solution, but it would have put the problem off—there are differences in formatting and again the forms are reduced to gibberish. So we asked for help, thinking that as there’s no reason they couldn’t be saved in an open format (RTF, for example) the Regulator could convert, check, and make them available to non-Windows users.
But no. They said:
“It is not possible for the documents to be made available in any other format than that already placed on the website. We are pleased to say that the majority of users find the application process a relatively straightforward experience and indeed praise the website for its clear and precise information. Hopefully you will be able to access the forms at a convenient time”
We’re lucky enough to have friends that will help out here—and they will have to do so again if we need to make more changes—but it’s not helpful and comes about through ignorance of how people use computers.
Just because something is widely used doesn’t make it a standard, and standards are important. Standards make sure everyone can access information. The rise of the low cost netbook, and other types of computing (especially mobile) mean that you have no idea of the set-up of people who you are trying to reach, but stick to standards and you’ll be fine.
Join Stuart and Jon of We Share Stuff for the first episode of our new podcast: ‘The Social Gas’ exploring how social media and technology can help social enterprises save time, reach people and collaborate.
This episode talks about Facebook, we look at questions like:
If you’ve got any questions about how Facebook could work for your non-profit, ask them in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them. Next time we’re going to take a look at Google Docs and how you can use them to save time, money and aid collaboration.