Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I just woke up and realised I was getting old.

I just didn’t understand it.

I thought I was pretty with it on using computers.

As a member of the first computer generation, I owned a ZX81 when I was 12, bought during the Falklands War, when Thatcher was PM and Britain used to have mines. Getting a program running on my computer then involved typing in something like:

20 GOTO 10

Then hitting run. “SEAN IS COOL” would appear across the screen, line by line for ever. Boy, was I cool.

Since then I have been ‘into’ computers. I got a 16k RAM pack for the ZX81 then later a 48k ZX Spectrum, briefly a VIC20, a Commodore Plus 4 then took a Commodore Amiga with me to York Uni in 1988.

And I have always played games on them, and been a little ahead of the game on all things computing. After Uni, along came the Playstation, (then Playstation 2 and 3), XBOX, XBOX360 and most recently the Wii. I got them all, so thought I was pretty much still up on the computing world.

I was using JANET in 1989 and was used to getting information online by the time the internet actually arrived proper. (JANET was the Joint Academic NETwork, a sort of internet for academia, it maybe still exists).

And I was an early adopter of mobile phones and even SMSing. In the early days, you could only SMS within the same network and when most of my friends received a message they had no idea what to do to read or respond. SMS was around for about three years before everyone suddenly twigged – I guess it was the kids getting access to mobiles at the turn of the century that made it so massive.

But despite this, something happened to the next generation (and actually, those just half a generation behind me too) and I missed it. And I just woke up.

In his book ‘The World is Flat’, Thomas Friedman talks about how American Business was asleep and how information technology is flattening the world (actually flattened it, but America is just catching up). Good book, but a good cheat is to catch the video below.

Even after reading the book, it would appear I was still half asleep. A year I would never read a blog. I thought they were pure narcissism full of over inflated, unsubstantiated opinion. Now I know they are but I am an avid reader of several, and contributor to several too.

I still don’t get Twittering & Facebook daily feeling updates – it seems incredibly boring, even more narcissistic and scares me. (Ben Elton wrote a great book, Blind Faith, of a post climate change apocalypse Britain where these social networks have eradicated privacy and Twittering is scarier than the fiction.)

If you don’t know what Twittering is, please stay asleep.

Anyway. I just woke up to the power of blogs. You obviously get blogs, or wouldn’t be reading this, but they offer communication solutions beyond organised opinion columns like Professional Fundraising Magazine’s.

Over the past two months I suddenly got it. A real Eureka! Moment. As well as playing around with this blog I also set up an internal Pareto staff blog, accessible only to our staff.
It was amazing what happened – and how. The first thing was how easy it was. Using Google’s
Blogspot http://www.blogspot.com/ I set the blog up, including inviting relevant people and posting the first blog in about 15 minutes.

The next thing that is amazing is how it took off.

The first article was posted by me on 8 August 2008. Then there were a couple more from me, a couple more from early adopters and by the end of August we had 13 entries. Just over two per week.

September had 52 postings – more than one a day. People have posted results, tests, ideas, videos, piss-takes, inter-office Wii challenges, instruction manuals, commitments to the team, and more. It is blowing away those circular emails, and our internal newsletter is fast becoming redundant (there actually hasn’t been one since the Blog went up, and no one is missing it).

About 60 people have access to the blog, and it is a great communication tool. And so, so easy.

Since then I have set up another private blog for charities involved in Pareto Benchmarking, and more recently we have started using it for our Masterclass / training sessions. The Resource Alliance asked Jan Chisholm (Pareto Fundraising Australia’s CEO) and myself to work on a new style of Masterclass for the IFC.

This Masterclass includes real data information from a charity, and affords participants the opportunity to look at data and interpret, plan and then look again at what happened to the data.
This is all pretty complex, so what we decided to do was to actually use a blog to get the briefing across. It is semi-private, in that anyone can look but only members can comment or post. Check out http://paretoifc08.blogspot.com/.

I thought I was a tech-head, but I was falling behind. If you are behind, and have a responsibility for marketing your business or charity – please, wake up!


Paul Tavatgis said...

Good one Sean - I had an Acorn Electron, 32K of pure grunt.

I've just ordered a book, called:

"Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives" which is supposed to be a guide for us old people, to understand people (i.e. young people) who have never lived in a world without the internet.

I am hoping this may help me as I find it harder to achieve effective communication with the 21 year old that sits, next to me, let alone the rest of them.

It's not arrived yet but I might share any dazzling insights I find from the book if there are any.

'Sean is always learning' said...

Thanks Paul! I have ordered it, so maybe we can have a bit of a mini book club! Share insights away...

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here