It didn’t take long before I was scribbling down a list of resources and websites to look into after meeting Aba Maison, from the London Advisory Services Alliance (LASA). While on a two month trip around New Zealand, Aba took time out from her sight-seeing to swap notes about using IT to support community groups.
One of the tips I was most pleased to get was a plugin to the WordPress blog software that makes it easy to link to YouTube videos (it’s called EasyTube). As we discussed the education and mentoring focus of the Wellington e-rider service, Aba suggested taking a look at a specific article entitled “Moving from personal to organisational directory structures” listed in the hugely impressive ICT knowledgebase.
The knowledgebase is just one part of bigger ICT Hub and helpline freely available to any UK community and voluntary organisation. Aba is responsible for content development, both writing material herself, organising others and working with techies. Along with her colleagues, Aba supports LASA to work as the London regional ICT champion (one of nine appointed nationally by the UK government), and is involved in supporting the UK equivalent to our e-rider, called circuit riders.
The ICT hub has just been expanded with the addition of a supplier directory. Hundreds of pre-vetted suppliers of hardware, software and services are listed. It looks a really useful tool, and something we could possibly look to establish in Aotearoa. The underlying code could be made available to us – something that would be a massive headstart.
I already knew about the ICT hub, but it’s value was really increased by having someone who could point me to particularly relevant content. Aba also pointed out the UK-riders list, which has 380 subscribers providing peer support around community organisation IT development.
The team at Lasa have established strong connections with people working in similar ways in the United States. Aba commented strongly on the value of co-operation, particularly as the issues all for groups seem to be very similar regardless of where they are based. There is an opportunity to swap material that we produce.
The last hint I was left with was about the fifth Community Information Strategies Australia (CISA) Connecting UP annual conference being held in Brisbane in May 2008. I didn’t know there was another CISA conference happening before chatting with Aba, but I’ve already added it to my diary.
BTW: Follow Aba’s travels on her blog at: www.abasplace.co.uk.