Friday, March 6, 2009

It's a video world

Let's face it, we live in a video world. With CJOnline's new web design, I thought it was time to reinvent blog. So I would like to reintroduce myself and my my new way of "blogging" in the web 2.0 world. Click the image above or here to watch.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Future of Computing

I am fascinated by the future of technology and computing, in particular with education and collaboration.  This is an interesting look at what might be ahead.

CES 2009: The Future of Computing | Larry Larsen | Channel 10

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Forecasting the Future

Wouldn't it be nice to know what the future holds? Of course, predicting exactly what is going to happen in the future is impossible. While we cannot predict the future, we can forecast the future. To do this requires that we understand where we are now and where we have come from.

The past helps explain the future. To forecast the future, it is important to look backward, follow a trend to the present and make logical predictions about what is going to happen. I can say with near certainty that in ten years, we will not be flying around in cars. But what I can say is that in ten years, hybrid automobiles with embedded "online" communication systems will probably be common. GPS devices will "collect" better information about road and traffic conditions and will be "smarter" and we will be much safer because of it.

Social networks will include our health information (because we want it to, not because it is mandated), handheld devices will "recognize" people and places and give us more information, and for those who allow themselves to be "open" to their trusted network, where they are and what they are doing will be even more accessible. Of course, computers will be faster, televisions thinner, clearer and larger, and as a society we will be "greener" and hopefully too, more healthy.

Anticipating the future is important to help determine those things we need to be doing now, in particular as professional associations. If we are not looking forward to the future, we risk becomming less relevant to our members. A grassroots organization can literally pop up over night and if it better able to serve your member's needs, there is a risk you could lose your marketshare.

I am a big fan of the Institute for the Future, an independent nonprofit research group which works with organization to help them make better, more informed decision about the future. I heard IFTF Distinguished Fellow Bob Johansen speak about his book Get There Early last summer and his ideas are profound.

During the next year, I hope to gain a better understanding of where we are headed and maybe even be able to forecast what the association world might look like in the year 2020.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Expand your social network

When I began “social networking” more than a year ago, I did so in a way that might seem backwards to most people. Rather than creating a network of people I already knew, I found people I did not know that I had common interests with.
For example, through Twitter, I found runners (I was training for a marathon), Leukemia and Lymphoma Society supporters (I was raising money while training as part of the Team in Training Program), writers (I am writing a novel) and technology geeks like myself which led to blogging for CJOnline.

I had a few people that I actually knew and would come to know, but for the most part my friends were people I had never met and most likely never would meet. I joined FaceBook to connect with a group of people whom I met at a national meeting a few months ago who use technology within professional associations. Association work is what I do for a living.

But a funny thing happened along the way. My sister asked me to be her friend. And then my mother. Then came a few people who grew up in my home town. Suddenly, my network of friends actually consists of real friends, not just people I have connected with in a professional sense. For me that has been a change and a good one. In just a very short time, I have reconnected with some friends I hadn’t talked to in a very long time. But as much as I missed out on the obvious, those that only connect with those they know might be missing out on something very important, which is expanding their network to people they do not know.

You see, there is a young lady in New Mexico who is battling leukemia that has rekindled a passion within me to run another marathon. I have gotten to know a runner in Florida who has a connection with the association world who has also participated in a Team in Training Marathon and donated to my fundraising campaign last year.

The contacts I have made in the association world have educated me in ways to enhance our communications at my work which have been successful. Those communication strategies have enhanced what I have done for our local Rotary club with its website and newsletter which has now led to serving on the communications committee at my church. These things may have never happened if not for the connections I made with the people I have never met.

So don’t limit yourself in the social networking world to those people you already know. It’s important to keep those relationships alive, but there is an exciting world out just waiting for you to join it. So take a leap and become friends with someone like you, even if they live clear across the country. That friendship might just be one that will change your life.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What makes a social network tool a success?

Some recent posts at the A-List Bloggers Network have prompted me to ask the question, "what makes a social network application a success?" While I believe that answer is highly subjective to the association that launches the program, I do think that having some way of measuring the success is important.

I always have found the challenge to be how to measure success. Is it a number of people who sign up on the social media application or the people who implement it? Or is it a failure because you don't see the success since you can't really know for sure if your members are finding the benefit in the service you create. 

Jeremiah Owyang writes that setting goals should be part of the planning before the launch of a social network. A few examples might be:
  • We were able to learn something about customers we’ve never know before

  • We were able to tell our story to customers and they shared it with others

  • A blogging program where there are more customers talking back in comments than posts

  • An online community where customers are self-supporting each other and costs are reduced

  • We learn a lot from this experimental program, and pave the way for future projects, that could still be a success metric

  • We gain experience with a new way of two-way communication

  • We connect with a handful of customers like never before as they talk back and we listen

  • We learned something from customers that we didn’t know before

Of course, in associations, our customers are our members. A translation to this might be that:

  • We engage members that haven't actively participated in our association before

  • We offer an opportunity for members to interact and communicate effectively through their association

  • We are able to increase communication to our members

  • Our members feel that they are part of something big

  • We create something of value to the members

Looking at quantitative data such as the number of people signed up to the social network respond to blogs may not give a true indication of the success of your program. When the Kansas Dental Association set up it's social network, I was surprised who had signed up first. It wasn't the members I expected, rather it was dentists who had not gotten involved directly in the association. To me, just reaching some of these people was a measure of success. The usual suspects later came along as expected.

Putting those goals into writing and conveying them to your target market should be part of the plan as well.  Your members need to know what your expectations are from them from the beginning. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Use Ning to create a social network

I have done a lot of thinking lately on the purpose of associations. Specifically, I have been thinking of associations in terms of a very trendy topic called social networking. Just what is social networking anyway?

According to Wikipedia, a social network service focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Social network services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging services.

Each of your members has a common activity, which is their profession and presumably, have the same goal of making it a rewarding and ideally a profitable experience. Many of your members probably belong to your professional organization, or at least participate, to explore the interests and activities of their colleagues and have the ability to interact with those colleagues and their profession.

Social networking really is a buzz word for the Twenty First Century association. It’s the method of communication and the speed in which that communication occurs that has changed and not the purpose. Today associations can literally pop up overnight with a force far greater than most of us can conceive

Associations can open those doors to their members and create the pathways for members to “associate” with one another in the Twenty First Century. Ning ( allows associations to create their own social networks. An association social network would allow your members to create their own “online” identity and participate in group discussions about issues, education, and even share photos and video with their colleagues.

It’s their voice, their connection and their network, all designed to give them the opportunity to be a Twenty First Century participant in their association.