Monthly Archives: May 2009

Facebook – straight from the horses mouth

The most common question that came up yesterday at a presentation I gave to the Comms2Comms network in Wellington was about how to set up a Facebook presence for a community organisation.

There was barely a mention of any other social networks. For good reason. Facebook is nearly always in the top five most visited websites in New Zealand. In the week ending 23 May, Facebook trailed third behind Google and TradeMe in the Hitwise statistics. 3.37% of all NZ internet traffic headed to Facebook. The next mostly highly visited social network is Bebo, at 15th most popular.

To find out how to get started I went straight to the horses mouth. Facebook itself produces useful resources:

Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Marketing Director recently gave some tips and insights from the inside. On 13 May 2009 he presented a 45 minute NTEN webinar on Using Facebook Pages for Social Good”. He and a colleague covered the basics, with lots of time devoted to answering questions from the audience. I listened to a recording so I didn’t get to ask one myself.

Randi concluded by saying they can’t give any universal answers. With 250 million people signed up, things tend to ebb and flow. “The the only way for you to find out what works is to get on there.”

Beth Kanter posted notes summarising the webinar and lists about 20 useful guides and articles about using Facebook. Plus many readers chipped in their own thoughts. See her blog post “So you want a Facebook Fan Page for Your Nonprofit? Here’s the Scoop!”

On CommunityNet Aotearoa, the Social Networking Guide has straight forward guides to setting up Bebo, Facebook and MySpace pages. There’s lots of other news, links and guides.

A search for Facebook on the groupings blog brings up many posts about Facebook and other social networks, including some New Zealand examples. It’s a great place to share your own experiences.

This is just the tip of the Facebook iceberg in terms of guidance, opinions, etc. If pressed, I’d say the best way to learn is by doing.

BTW: The notes and presentation from my talk are now online: “A toe in the water… {revisited}: Comms2Comms presentation”.

“So many ways to skin a cat” presentation, Connecting Up 09 conference

I’m finding lots of distractions as I try to finish a write-up about the presentation I gave at the Connecting Up 09 conference yesterday. Straight in front of me is this green void – “a digital design drived from nature realized in lightweight frabric using the latest digital fabrication and engineering techniques, creating more with less”.

The installation is housed in the atrium at the Customs House public library. The library itself is a mixture of traditional dark wooded reading rooms created within the old, stone Customs House and contemporary fittings in brilliant red. Then there are the books – I’m seated next to books such as the “Atlas of Western Art History” and “America in Space”.

And don’t mention coffee or Circular Quay ferries tempting me. Okay, back on track. I better make use of the free wifi Internet access.

I talked yesterday about the process we used to bring CommunityCentral to life. The main focus was on how we went from free-form idea generation to a tangible set of features our developers could build. On the recommendation of egressive – the company we’ve been working with for the last year – we wrote up user stories which were then translated into technical specifications.

On reflection the process was a good one. The user stories helped bridge the communication divide between the regular folk on the project and the developers. A by-product was buy-in by the governance group without them having to get involved in every little detail of the web development process. Recently, our new website coordinator Catherine read through them to get an idea of what CommunityCentral is trying to achieve.

The process isn’t foolproof and I was embarrased to admit we’ve consistently missed deadlines when someone asked if we had a project plan. I think that’s the nature of website development, especially when interactivity is involved, and scarce human resources.

Talking afterwards with a couple of people I recommended an excellent summary of methods for obtaining user input to help set priorities for building websites: The unusually useful web book by June Cohen. Although written in 2003 (an eternity ago in webland) it still has some of the most concise and useful advice on website development I’ve seen.

In my presentation you’ll see a picture of a canoe about to capsize. As I said yesterday, the image really captures some of the sense of dread verging on excitement of the whole project. There is some fear, the whole thing could topple over, things could go wrong, we could end up capsizing.

The way I see it, the worst that could happen is a drenching – but can we learn from that? Would we try again?¬† The project is marked by a boldness – lets try. If the governance group were too timid to try – hmmm, that wouldn’t actually help people working in community groups get online and begin building new connections.

The chance to reflect back on CommunityCentral’s life so far has been refreshing. Too often I don’t find the time to stop and reflect, so cheers to Connecting Up for running another excellent event.

“So many ways to skin a cat” presentation on SlideShare
Links to blog posts, pictures and other conference materials

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Privacy concerns raised at Connecting Up 09 conference

After a heated discussion about privacy at the Connecting Up conference, I headed off to the Apple Store to get a replacement power adapter. I’d left my one behind on the kitchen bench.

When I handed over my credit card to the young salesman he blithely asked if I’d like the receipt emailed to my commonknowledge account, or would I like a printed version. Or both.

What! I was astounded someone I didn’t know, in a shop I’d never been to had this sort of information. It transpires somewhere along the lines when I’d signed up to Apple’s iTunes store I must have agreed to this. And iTunes is linked into Apple’s corporate computer system, and someone somewhere is datamining all my (very small number of) purchases.

Obviously, I didn’t read the fine-print. And do I trust Apple with this confidential information? Must go and read their privacy policy.

The session on privacy, led by Californian resident Allen Gunner from Aspiration, showed that people working in community and voluntary sector organisations have strong views on privacy. And high ideals. Gunner used a participatory ‘crowdsourcing’ exercise to draw out opinions. It was great to see 200 odd people placing themselves on a continuum of agreement/ disagreement with his provocative statements.

I need more time to reflect on the substance of conference and have conversations with other participants, which I’ll write about later. You can get a sense of what’s happening by looking at the collectively written twitter feed, or the live video feed on the conference website.

On a lighter note, here are some pics of my trip to Sydney. I’ll be adding more during the next day or two.

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