Tag Archives: lenedgerly

creating community awards

Beth Kanter, from Beth’s Blog (of course), presented the Bloggers Who Create Community Award to Small Dots!

bloggers who create community award

Beth named three bloggers to receive the award — the other two are Amy Sample Ward’s Version of NpTech and Michele Martin, The Bamboo Project. If you don’t know these blogs, I strongly encourage you to check them out.

Here’s what Beth said about Small Dots:

Beth works in the arts and nonprofits world. She’s only been blogging for a couple of months, but already you can see the lively community and conversation happening on her blog. I appreciate her deep engagement in conversation, listening, and cross-disciplinary thinking.

Thank you! I am energized beyond words to be writing in this new blog-space (I’ve actually been writing a personal blog — and contributing to several group blogs — for many years) and by the community that supports it. The encouragement I’ve received from other bloggers — Beth Kanter in particular — has been astonishing, and I am very grateful to her and to everyone who reads and comments.

I’m going to continue the pay-it-forward thread of this award and confer it on:

Connie Bensen

Connie is the community manager for ACDSee, and has a lot of very thoughtful and valuable insight to share. Her blog covers a lot of ground with a lot of verve, and is one of my favorite reads these days. I admire her willingness to share her experiences of what works and what doesn’t, especially for the web worker and the community manager.

Len Edgerly

Len is a prolific and engaging podcaster and technology advocate. He is interested, as am I, in ways to bring technology to artists and arts organizations in thoughtful, practical ways, and I learn a lot from him. I admire his curiosity and open, inquiring mind – and how he shares his interest with us in a variety of media.

Jeremiah Owyang

I feel almost presumptuous giving Jeremiah this award, but I think his blog is such an excellent source of inspiration, node of thought, and hub of activity that I just can’t omit him from my list. Jeremiah writes about social media, emerging web technologies, and the ongoing evolution of online communities, and I deeply admire his adept use of a variety of different technologies to draw his community together and provoke meaningful discussion.

Thank you to these bloggers and to everyone I’ve met and interacted with in 2007. I can’t wait to see what we cook up together in 2008.


WESTAF and the technology mandate

I’ve got a somewhat irregular Saturday ritual of listening to recent NPR show episodes while knitting, or winding yarn, or just cleaning house.  Not long ago, I added Len Edgerly’s Arts and Technology podcast to this ritual. 

His latest, an interview with Anthony Radich, Executive Director of WESTAF – the Western States Arts Federation, has really got me buzzing.  They talked about what Radich sees as WESTAF’s role in bringing the arts community up to speed in the use of technology.  Arts nonprofits have always lagged in the use of technology, Radich says, but new technology is much cheaper and easier to use – and is really a natural for use by arts organizations and artists. 

He says that WESTAF really has an obligation, as a super-regional arts agency, to lead the way, both through their own use of technology, and by increasing access to and the understanding of technology for artists and cultural organizations. 

This is really what I’ve been circling around in many of my discourses on how to use social media, open architecture, and bottom-up content creation even though your constituency might be somewhat behind the times in the adoption of technology. 

In some cases (in my own, one could argue), the use of technology itself is part of the service you are providing to your members.  The access to it, the opportunity to get familiar with the tools.  A starting point.  A launch pad. A training ground.

It’s tough to make the case for instituting ground-up content creation when it’s an open question if any of your members will actually create content. 

But, when an arts agency considers it part of its mandate to provide professional and business training to artists and cultural organizations, isn’t it also part of that mandate to introduce them to the new tools of the internet?  Tools that can bring their creative product and repute to the global community?

WESTAF is creating a new website that will try to do just this.  It will allow artists to upload video of their events to help them get the word out.  It will help artists findand support one another, despite geographic disparities.  It will give the members agency to decide what programming, modules, and web-based capabilities they want for themselves, by opening up the stage for them to comment and share.

They already have modules on their website that offer their constituency: 

  • a grant administration technology tool for cultural organizations;
  • a job board for the arts and culture community;
  • a Call for Entry management program;
  • a universal application system for applying to shows and craft fairs;
  • blogs.

It seems that they are updating all of this (some of it is a little dated, but that’s to be expected) and unifying it under a common banner.  Then they’re adding more useful bits as they go along, based on community response.  How exciting…

I can’t wait to see the results – and to learn from them.

The knitting?  I’m afraid it still only looks like this:


another early morning on the red line

Got up early again to sit in on Len Edgerly’s excellent presentation on Arts 2.0 at Podcamp Boston 2.  Follow the first link to watch the video of the presentation.  Len covers ways in which individual artists and arts organizations are using web 2.0 tools, and he breaks it down into four categories:

  •  New Media
  • Social Networks
  • Mobile Networks
  • Virtual Worlds

Note the trenchant comments from the floor by the chick in the front row. 

Also note my abject failure to win the “fastest text messager in the room” contest.  That’s OK, the prize was a bright green pencil sharpener (I believe with pencil thoughtfully included!), and I have an even more vintage version in my office.  I am the envy of all.

I’ll be covering some of this ground in my presentation at Philanthropy Day Cape Cod on Tuesday, November 6, and it was great to see how somebody else approaches the material.  What I liked about this presentation was the terrific amount of specific examples of what people are doing right now with the technology, along with some thoughtful ideas about what else might be possible.

Don’t forget to click on part two to see the (eventually successful, trust me) live demo of Second Life.  This was particularly gratifying for me to see, as I have only ever dabbled in Second Life with my very slow home computer, so I had never seen the graphics in all their glory.  Mine are alway slow, pixellated, and buggy, and I inevitably crash and get logged out because of my computer’s very small brain.

Eventually, the guy filming the presentation does turn the camera on to the screen, so you can see Len’s very dapper avatar, Hercules Randall, strolling through an exhibit in Paris, 1900, and then flying up to the Sistine Chapel for an eye-level view of the stunning replica that Vassar College has built in Second Life.

I really liked the point Len made at the end, about urging people to “just try it” — just build a profile on Facebook, start reading some blogs, comment on a few, mess around and experiment.  Unfortunately, I still see people who are terrified they will “blow their computer up” or something if they hit the wrong key.  I do think that the key to a lot of this technology is just getting people to try it — it’s fun and interesting on its own merits, and you learn by doing.  To a certain extent we take some of the joy out of these tools by wrapping them up in the language of marketing and ROI.

OH EXCELLENT footage of me chugging coffee like my life depended on it at the very end!  I’m such a star.