Tag Archive for 'non-profit'

Facebook is becoming like my puppy…

A topic that consumes me wholly. On the Flickr side of my life I’m becoming seen as *that* dog person, who can think of nothing more interesting/intelligent to photograph than Atlas, my 5-month year old puppy. It seems like I’m also becoming *that* Facebook person too.

Every day there is something new about this social-networking tool that’s a magnet for news, bloggers, and most everyone in my non-profit community. It’s a great tool, don’t get me wrong, but ack, the talk is ubiquitous. I remember back in the day when I first started blogging out of boredom/lack of work to do, and I’d search high and low everyday to find something on the internet that might be entertaining for an hour or two. Mostly I got lost in Yahoo Games. These days, there isn’t enough time in the day to read even 25% of the Facebook articles out there, not even taking into account the activity on Facebook itself. (Not to mention that I have a job that also consumes me wholly).
Continue reading ‘Facebook is becoming like my puppy…’

Social networking: has the train left the station?

It’s certainly no secret, and it seems like everyone has jumped on the Facebook bandwagon these days. I don’t have to search far to find a news article, blog, or radio broadcast talking about the political, cultural, and social implications of social networking - particularly the Facebook phenomenon. Teachers are using it to communicate with their students, friends are getting back in contact after years out of touch, even parents are signing online to keep track of their kids.

One of the biggest users of the social networking site (which also happens to be the second most visited daily website in the United States) are non-profit organizations. And why not? It’s a fantastic tool that helps mobilize communities, connects groups in disparate locations, rallies people around causes, and segments demographics in such detail that it is easy to learn what your users want and subsequently serve up customized content. The new application addition to Facebook also enhances the user experience and allows these organizations to create fun widgets that provide a fun and unique service and allows them to take action, while further cementing their relationship with the organization. Once action is taken - be it via signing a petition, RSVPing to an event or rally, or sharing what you do (or your application) to a friend, that user is much more likely to support your organization in the future, either financially or through in-kind support or volunteering. Now with Facebook profiles becoming semi-public and searchable through engines like Google and Yahoo, the potential seems unlimited.

Continue reading ‘Social networking: has the train left the station?’

A foray into student blogging

Note: this was first published for Michaela’s personal blog on August 21. 2007.

One of the first projects I’ve been working on at my new job is setting up a blog for our fall study abroad programs. We have 79 specialized programs scattered across the world and each student has a vastly different immersion experience. I thought it might be fun to follow 10 of our students through a blog, as they undergo a semester of transformation.

Beyond the usual decisions of what blog software to use and whether to host 10 separate blogs or 1 blog with 10 voices, and how to handle photographs, it’s been hard to ignore the controversy out in the academic world: whether or not it’s appropriate to feature student bloggers on an organization’s website. Students tend to be extremely insightful at times, while at other times, extremely inappropriate. My research of other study abroad students (on programs unassociated with ours) uncovered provocative YouTube videos, inappropriate photographs and captions on Flickr/Webshots, and independent student blogs that blasted their study abroad programs and overseas experience. Granted there is lots of *great* stuff out there too, and hopefully as with most things on the web - the good will rise to the top, and the moaning/complaints/inappropriate discussions will sink to the bottom.

The other discussions I’ve been involved in with folks revolve around directing the types of content we want from our students (both on our official blog and if students choose to blog independently) and/or censoring negative content - all things which are hard to do on something as “leaky” as the web. I also struggle with any idea of censorship because of the free speech/freedom of press implications, etc. I believe the web should evolve organically, though the unpredictability of student behavior - college students for that matter - makes this issue a tough one. Kids have gossiped for hundreds of years - the internet has just evolved as another medium for this type of behavior. Anyone who has spent anytime on Facebook or MySpace knows this. Also, beyond our blog, what if students are writing inappropriate content on personal blogs - are we allowed to tell them to stop? I’ve tried to explain that what we don’t “allow” our students to do, it will still likely surface somewhere else if the student is determined enough. But regardless, you throw in free speech and ideas about civil society (which we try to teach in our programs) and you’ve only added fuel to the fire while not practicing what you’re preaching. It’s hard for folks to understand this, but hopefully in time it will be more clear and some best practices will emerge.

It’s definitely going to be an interesting learning experience, not only for our organization and myself, but for our students as well.The blog is located here, though not populated yet (our student bloggers will be identified in the next week!).

In the process of setting it up in Typepad, I’ve found a few scripts that add some multimedia and interactivity to the blog in a simple (and free), yet useful way. My two favorites so far are:

A Zee Map that features the locations of each of our study abroad bloggers.

And a Flickr slideshow (featuring my images) from Slide. Thanks to Beth for telling me about this one!