On my desktop this week… ‘Morsels’* by Raymond Biesinger

'Morsels'* by Raymond Biesinger

Raymond Biesinger is a self-taught illustrator based in Edmonton, Canada.

His portfolio is at www.debutart.com/artist/raymond-biesinger. Thre’s some great stuff on there, including an illustration of the UK Houses of Parliament.

* ‘Morsels’ is the name I gave it. The site doesn’t provide the artist’s title.

Tool-up NGO-style – 20 web-based tools for daily working

My fiancee, Gemma, is a very adventurous woman. She works in countries like Afghanistan, Chad and Nepal for a development communications NGO called Equal Access.

In 2009, Equal Access opened up a new office to run radio projects in Yemen, and in November Gemma went over train the Yemeni team. Unfortunately, Gem got sick and I had to go to Yemen to bring her home. Always looking for the positives, I at least got to visit an amazing country and had a chance to see Gemma’s organisation at work.

Amidst all the excitement in setting up the new office, there were also problems, not least in the areas of IT and communications. Although there was a decent web connection, the team was very dependent on desktop software for basic office functions, organising themselves, keeping in touch with Equal Access HQ in San Francisco and with partners and funders around the world. Problem was that this software cost a lot, needed expertise to install and sync, and that is if it ever gets through customs with visitors.

It got me thinking about the web and how the tools it holds could help. Might these support everyday tasks? Could they save money? Improve communications? Perhaps encourage innovation? It seems that in some sectors knowledge of these tools is well-established, whereas in others their use is unfamiliar and the choice can be bewildering.

Out of that thinking came the list below. The inclusions do basic things, at a low cost or for free, are easy to set up and manage, and work well on low bandwidth. I’ve written it up with Equal Access in mind, but it may also be useful for other small to medium-sized NGOs thinking about how to take advantage of the web. Continue reading “Tool-up NGO-style – 20 web-based tools for daily working”

Things that tweet… Robots, evaluation and sales

In the course of this week I have come across three things that so impressed me that I tweeted them.

Chances are, if you know my blog, then you also know my tweets, but if not:

  • Introducing the ‘voicebot’

An installation in Parliament from Vinspired.com. Part of the Voicebox initiative – ‘a data visualisation project, curating young people’s views on issues that matter, visualising the findings, and then setting the data free for you to do the same.’

  • Innovation and evaluation are inseparable

GOOD Magazine is hosting a blog-based conversation for participants from across the globe to explore innovative approaches to evaluation. Not surprisingly, it is good – very good.

  • How to sell me stuff

Steph Gray is a digital specialist in the Civil Service and a patient man. But even he has his limits. Tired of cold calls and clumsy pitches, @lesteph has posted eight tips on how to sell him right. I’m ditto on all 8.

Twitter is tomorrow’s email… technology adoption in organisations

Phases of technology adoption in organisations
Phases of technology adoption in organisations

In 2004 – in Lithuania, of all places – Professor Stephen Coleman introduced me to a four-phase model for understanding how new technologies are adopted and influenced by organisations.

Don’t know if he came up with it directly but finding it beautifully simple and functional, I’ve used it countless times since to make sense of how technology use is developing in organisations I have worked for or with.

I was discussing it with Neil Williams over a cerveza recently, and decided to add a fifth phase that I’d like to share here.

Coleman’s four phases (note – I’ve tweaked the names, but not their essence) ran as follows:

hyperbole > resistance > institutionalisation > transformation
Continue reading “Twitter is tomorrow’s email… technology adoption in organisations”

Stuff what I has been reading… 27/07 – 02/08

Push too hard for revenue in the short term, they might drive away users, undermining a network. Leave it too late to monetise and the business could collapse.

Social media – is it about money or people?

[From The Economist]

There are no self-evident connections between the key objectives of counter-terrorism, development, democracy/ state-building and counter-insurgency. Counter-insurgency is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for state-building.

Rory Stewart knows Afghanistan, and this essay is a expert analysis of the problems with the Afghan ‘mission’; it is a pity that his solution to the problem is not as clear as his diagnosis of the problem.

[From the London Review of Books]

Of all the economic bubbles that have been pricked, few have burst more spectacularly than the reputation of economics itself.

A spirited but balanced defence of the dismal science.

[From The Economist]

Tweet As Tools

Here are some Twitter publishing and tracking tools that I’ve been using a lot recently…

TweetDeck – installs on your desktop and is a useful program from publishing and monitoring Twitter activity – www.tweetdeck.com

TweetStats – provides statistics about your Twitter activity, and if you put others’ names in you can get data about their activity – www.tweetstats.com

TwitGraph – more or less the same as above, not as nice an interface but you can save the graphs as JPGs to drop into reports – www.twitgraph.com

TwitterFall – initially quite confusing, this is useful for tracking activity on Twitter – www.twitterfall.com

TweetBurner – shortens and allows you to track use of your URLs – www.tweetburner.com

Trendrr – compare Twitter trend activity – www.trendrr.com

What are you using?

Three Things Twitter

Been so busy this week and last that I’ve not had the time to write even 140 characters. But today Twitter caught my attention in three ways…

1. The Central Office of Information or the COI as it’s know on da street (the department I work for) began using its Twitter account. It was set up by our Interactive Services division and taken on by our Corporate Communications team. You can follow at www.twitter.com/coigovuk.

2. eConsultancy has reviewed whether the UK’s top 50 digital agencies are using the micro-blogging platform, and found just a 25% adoption rate. It’s sparked a debate on whether agencies should bother or not. I am surprised at the low adoption; I would have expected more agencies to have signed up to see what was going down or at least to claim the username. Thanks to Steph for the tip.

3. www.ifyoulikeitsomuchwhydontyougolivethere.com kills me, so Twattering is right up my alley. Cutting, but probably deserved. Cheers to Nadeem for the tip.