Monthly Archives: September 2008

Conference watch – heavy duty stuff

To learn all you want to know about Drupal, and probably more, head along to DrupalSouth. The two day event is aimed mainly at developers but there’ll be lots to learn for anyone using the open source content management platform.

I’m wondering if it might be too technical for me, but as I’m currently working on three Drupal powered websites as a project manager or webmaster, I’m bound to pick up some useful knowledge. With CivicActions a sponsor, they’ll be sharing some of their work using Drupal websites for social change no doubt. It might be a situation of learning about things that might be useful in the future, but you don’t know you need to know about something just yet. If that makes sense.

Hats off to Jonathan Hunt from egressive for setting up this event.

Closer to home the programme for webstock 2009 was just released. Next February the 3rd webstock event will be held in Wellington.

The mix of speakers is very broad: sci-fi novelists, an online performance artist, web gurus and online community builders. Derek Powazek, author of the seminal “Design for Community: The Art of Connecting Real People in Virtual Places” (New Riders, 2001) is running a full day workshop on community building on the social web. I read this book a while back and reckon Derek will shed some light on how to engage people online.

Having attended webstock 08 I know next years event will be a buzz: full immersion in web trends, techniques and philosophy with great coffee and a chic conference bag thrown in. Time to start saving for the $895 entry fee.

Event details:

  • DrupalSouth, 1-2 November 2008, Christchurch
  • Webstock, 16-20 February 2009, Wellington

“Spreading the word” now on Slideshare

I’m glad I wasn’t running a session on Slideshare at the Engage Your Community conference. When I went to upload the presentation I made at the conference it didn’t load first time. I tried an hour later, then the next and a day later.

There was no explanation from the folk at Slideshare about any problems with the server, or a personal message saying I’d blown my storage quota. Just a frozen file upload.

I persevered and finally I managed to upload my “Spreading the word” slides for one and all to see. (For anyone interested I’ve also listed the websites I referred to, see details of my “Spreading the word” conference presentation.)

Fortunately, at the conference I didn’t hear of any presenters having any technical problems. A big relief when you’re running live training sessions on web-based applications.

During the breaks I heard about three organisations using blogger for e-newsletters or a website. The free blogging platform is being bent, twisted and turned to meet different needs, at times experimentally.

Each week Community Housing Aotearoa produce a weekly snapshot with original news and clippings for news items. See: http://communityhousingaotearoa.blogspot.com/

The NZ Council of Christian Social Services produce a bi-weekly newsletter with commentary on social policy and news. Previously it was sent out by email only, but it’s now more easily accessible on blogger. See: http://christiansocialservices.blogspot.com/

From SeniorNet Wellington’s homepage on blogger you’ll find everything you need to know about their organisation and courses. Alan has been very inventive working with the limitations of the platform to convey all the necessary information. I particularly like the custom Google Map showing nearby parking buildings and bus stops.

We’ve started quietly talking about follow-up workshops and another conference next year. I’m already looking forward to further learning and sharing.

Embedding a YouTube video

In preparation for my presentation on “Spreading the word” at the Engage your community conference, I’m demonstrating how you can embed YouTube into a blog or a webpage.

I get pretty enthusiastic about sharing knowledge and trying to rouse people up by sharing stuff online. Using YouTube dramatically lowers the cost and technical complexity for grassroots organisations sharing their own footage. Making them, now that’s another story.

The clip below is one of five by Rhys Taylor of the Sustainable Living Trust recorded earlier in the year. Over 45 minutes Rhys lays out the what, why, where, when and how of the work of the Sustainable Living programme.

It’s proven pretty useful according to Rhys, with some correspondents describing the clips as informative.

Some of Rhy’s top tips for aspiring video makers are:

  • use high quality digital equipment and a tripod
  • ensure your sound recording quality is high
  • if using a PowerPoint slide background, try to adjust room lighting so that both it and the speaker are visible.

He says next time he’d “aim for shorter, clearer presentations by various people involved in our programme, as we are a grass-roots programme with many partners.”

I’m pretty impressed by Rhys delivery – he comes across very naturally. I suspects he’s got a future on the small screen. The sound quality and lighting look pretty good to me. Thanks for your comments Rhys, and without without further ado, here’s an introduction to sustainable living: