Saturday, June 10, 2006

Making those connections - a quick review

[Not finished with the resources list yet....]
In the meantime (see previous post), here are two quick case-studies and an insight (if I can call it that):

GROW has a website built on Drupal, and publishes podcasts. According to the E.D. and primary podcaster, Erika Huber, they are the 2nd most popular educational podcast online. She is one of the few female podcasters online now, and one of the few educational podcasters (in comparison to, say, techie podcasters). And the website traffic - and hence the people who have become engaged with her organization - has ballooned from the low 30s to the thousands per month.

Erika says she uses GarageBand (on the Mac) to record and edit her podcasts, but someone else recommended Audacity (an open-source downloadable app for PCs and Macs). Or you could use Odeo Studio and do it all online. You can find GROW's podcasts, along with tons of other podcasts, at - but maybe the easiest thing to do is to search for "podcast" and your favorite topic area.

Wow - a nonprofit organization that's using a bunch of tools we've been talking about for months - and I had never heard of them before.

(Someone else pointed out the Western Folklife website - including recordings of cowboy poetry and a group of different western artists who have their own blogs! Great things are happening online with new nonprofit media! Thanks Alex!)
And this points to a key lesson - something I know but occasionally need reminding of. Connections and communities happen between people - the tools are just a means to an ends. The huge interest in social networking applications sits on top of the assumption that networking in and of itself is important. Ultimately, it's often necessary to make that human conneciton at regular points along your community-building travels. Honestly, I don't know how long I would have looked and never found a) a great, simple Drupal site, b) that is hosting podcasts - unless I had personally travelled halfway across the country and met Erika in person.

But now, as Marnie experiences - can you network so much you're a mile wide but an inch deep? And it that soley the fault of our new tools, or the fact that our society has not yet adjusted to how to make these tools work for us, and opposed to just working us.



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