Saturday, June 16, 2007

Communicate or ....

I've been thinking about communication in the Scottish Episcopal Church (again). This time it was brought on by the realisation at Synod that there are people engaged at quite an influential level who seem to think that telephone conferencing is cutting edge, as well as the overwhelming need to reconcile small numbers of people scattered over large areas of Scotland with a shortage of money and resources and a lively interest in not destroying the planet with our use of fossil fuels. It seems transparently obvious to me that this is an area of education crying out for the use of the best technological devices for communication and socialising - and yet we seem to be stuck in the stone age humoring people who refuse to have anything to do with computers.

So, for what it's worth - and it won't be worth anything if we don't act - this is some of what I jotted down at the time. Comments and suggestions welcome!

Needs: An efficient and attractive communication package to facilitate online discussions, using webcams, chat wall, forum facilities - all live, timed, with the chance to opt-in/sign up for specific sessions. Podcasts, "play again" features, collaborative document reviews.
OU-type learning, with scheduled seminars for occasional face to face work.

Results: Speeding-up of necessary communications. Enjoyable participation over a wide area. Real - and at times random - sharing:ideas, learning, problems, solutions. Increased awareness of what we are all doing (why did we not know there was a visiting delegation from Delaware in our area today?) because of more regular communication. (We forget unless we are reminded)

Funding would be needed: to pay an outside technical trainer. (Cascading might be possible later). To buy equipment - perhaps on a geographical basis; individuals might be willing to buy their own in order to have the use of it if they knew how to use it!

I asked Synod if it'd be possible to have some LTS-type training in the dioceses. It struck me that some Diocesan New Technologies practitioners who were willing to travel might be very useful.

I've spent much of today pottering on and off Facebook. It strikes me as fun but limited to social chit-chat. But other social groups, such as ning, have more of the facilities which make real interaction possible - blog posts, a comment forum, podcasts, file uploads, photos and emails - along with the email prompts when something relevant happens. I already use this with a Cursillo group in a "closed" format to ensure confidentiality. I'd love to see more of the church catching on.

I'm just dabbling. But I've identified someone who could teach us, and the need is there. Any other suggestions from those who really know this stuff?


  1. I too was struck by those that thought that conferencing by telephone (with no handsfree!) was (to quote the Guide) 'a really neat idea'.

    Even using something like a Yahoo e-mail group (which is just a discussion mailing list) can make a huge difference to communication amongst a group.

    Face to face communication using something like Skype or MSN etc will add to the experience.

    Things like Google Docs may be the thing for collaborative document production.

    But what do we do for those who who are not yet connected. Are we nearing the 'tipping point' where we have to move ahead and let the others catch up? At what point did the people who had phones stop asking whether someone else had a phone number and just assume that it was there. Should a connection to the interweb thingy now just be assumed (the 4th utility) or how do we accommodate those who are not connected.

    btw, surely there is enough news around the SEC to ensure that there is a regular news post (the last post was on 14 June!) and that news had been extensively covered before it appeared on the SEC website.


  2. Your last point is what makes me so keen on the instant nature of blogging. It seems to me that static sites get left behind too easily.

    And yes to the tipping-point idea too!