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As many of you know, this year we took a little different approach to programming our annual Fall Conference. We turned a lion’s share of the decision-making to you–”the crowd.”
From start to finish, to say the results were spectacular would be something of an understatement. We received an unprecedented number of proposals for our October event in New Orleans–or as Minna Jung, the Network’s vice chair commented in an earlier post: “Wow“–and the numbers of you who voted on which sessions to put on the agenda was beyond anything we imagined. So, Wow, again!
Guest Post: Ryan Reynolds
When it comes to delivering great user experiences online, it’s ironic that one of the hottest new approaches to web design is inspired by a concept that is thousands of years old. But perhaps that is just a testament to the durability of great ideas.
Way back when, if you wanted to write something important down, you generally had two choices: cave drawings or stone tablets. Permanent, yes, but also impractical. Eventually, scrolls were invented, providing the first continuous, editable medium. Ancient Egyptians used scrolls for record-keeping, while Judeans were the first to adapt the format to literature with their all-time best seller, the Torah. It wasn’t until the first century AD that the bound book came about, and it would be almost two thousand more years before the genesis of the modern medium—the digital screen.
The most interesting aspect of this evolution is how the medium continues to shape the message, and vice versa. Caves and tablets were condusive to artistic depictions and decorative narratives with limited written copy. Scrolls were just the opposite: well-suited to long, linear narratives, but with limited decoration. Bound books physically segmented scrolls’ continuous medium into individual pages, which in turn spawned content structures such as parts, sections and chapters.
Many of us find it difficult — even intimidating — to keep up with all the fast-changing digital tools available to do our jobs. It often seems that new ones pop up every day. With many of them available for free, the choices can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are organizations out there like the Sunlight Foundation who make it their business to stay on the bleeding edge of web/mobile tools that help them do their work better. That’s why we recently invited Liz Bartolomeo, the foundation’s media director, to have a conversation online with our regular webinar host, Andy Goodman, about the best tools for outreach, engagement, productivity and research. During the course of their 60-minute conversation, Liz and Andy discussed the tools and described how they can be mixed and matched for unique purposes. (Links to many of the tools discussed on the webinar are below.)
Guest Post: Chris Wolz and Nam-ho Park
We hear a lot of questions from foundations, grantees, nonprofits and NGOs about whether they should make their online communication “work” for mobile devices. Our answer is, yes, because mobile adoption is at high levels and increasing:
- Global smartphone shipments exceeded PC shipments in 2011.
- More than 50 percent of US adults and more than 60 percent of young adults own a smartphone
- 50 percent of U.S. smartphone users have sent/received email via their phones
- 31 percent of American adults own a tablet computer as of Jan 2013
The good news is that there are pragmatic steps to get started making websites and emails mobile-friendly.
Guest Post: Sharon Hurley Hall
When the Communications Network conducted its 2011 “State of the Practice Survey,” foundation communications practitioners said their biggest frustration — “far and away” — was not having enough time to do all that is being required of them as their roles grow. If finding more time to get everything done isn’t an option, perhaps some help can be found in taking advantage of online project management tools.
Here are six we identified, including five that are free: