“Papa Homer, you are so learn-ed”; “Learned, son. It’s pronounced learned.”

“All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.”
– Martin H. Fischer

Sitting in front of the interwebs all the time I guess I am constantly learning new things, social media tricks and gizmos, political situations, weather calamities and catastrophes and sometimes even some good news in developing countries.

But this week I sat in front of an eccentric academic (tautology?) with pen, paper, laptop and an inquisitive mind and realised how much I miss being a student.

This isn’t surprising if you add up all my school days – 13 years at school and 7 ½ years at university – that’s over 20 years of my life or 2/3rds of my existence. In addition to working at a university for 7 years, that is some serious time I’ve served in the line of education.

What am I learning? Video filming skills and editing on Final Cut Pro. I’m still rather green, accidently overwriting instead of inserting and those sort of slight slip of the mouse mistakes but I’m getting there. Nothing a Ctrl+Alt+Z wouldn’t fix, I mean Commmmmand+Z, quitting the PC habit of a lifetime.

We’ve also had a little play with Prezi – a zoom-in presentation tool which makes powerpoint look as dated as an overhead projector and Snapz Pro X which allows you to record anything on your screen, saving it as a QuickTime movie or screenshot that can be e-mailed or uploaded to the web. Fancy. We’ve also watched a lot of slightly dorky yet highly informative webinars from the 2 Reel Guys. All this info is out there for those who know how to find it but it is nice to take some time out of  day-to-day work to learn new skills as a group.

Or realising you can take the nerd out of uni, but you can’t take the urge to learn out of a nerd.

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Hanging out in Melbourneo with other word nerds

Attending the 3rd Australian Aid Communicators Conference in Melbourne was a delight. When I say ‘other word nerds’ that roughly means a room full of inspiring, passionate, informed and switched-on aid and development communicators from across this sunburnt land in a slightly wet but beautiful town.*

Over our fair trade coffees and delicious multicultural vegetarian snacks we bemoaned the public’s apathy and sluggish response to Pakistan, found out who was working where these days and shared common tales of staff shortages.  There was also some good news for the sector, the old campaign strategies still ring true: be honest, stay on message and be persistent.  The (not so) ‘new’ media tools are pretty much all free and user-friendly. Have a play and see what you can do, there are no rules. Creating a social media campaign is like any other campaign. You need clear strategy and framework, something along the lines of –

People – Assess your audience social activities
Objectives – Decide on what you want to accomplish
Strategy – How will you satisfy your objectives
Tactics/Technology – Decide which social technologies to use (note how technology is last)

It’s not the first time that the Social Media POST Framework and I have shared the same space, I too have stood in front of a room of eager communicators with the trusty POST on my PowerPoint slide (I didn’t use the rather sexy prezi.com, that’s quite the discovery). 

And we have our work cut out for us. The development sector doesn’t have the best public image. From cries of “you spend too much on advertising,” “it never reaches the people,” “what about our own problems in Australia,” “our money will end up in Taliban hands,” the list goes on … it is up to us to do a better job at explaining how aid works. And aid does work.

Want more development rants comin at ya? Follow the UNDPI Global Health Conference on twitter #AchieveMDGs – @sarfos is doing some darn fine tweetin’ from the Conference.

*If I could make babies with a city, it would be Melbourne.

And the c hunt diaries begin …

It has been a while since I have articulated my thoughts on the intertubes. I’m sure the www has not been the same without me.

Which is not entirely true, have been beavering away socially for the NGO I work at and have been  #spilling and RTing to my heart’s content.

So bloggy-wog, a new PM eh?

The furry-angry little feminist that dwells within me (I keep her in my armpit for safe keeping) is thrilled to have an amazing, intelligent woman in the top job. And I don’t use the word ‘intelligent’ in that patronising back-handed compliment sense like ‘articulate Indigenous leader’ (implying that this is the minority?). Ms PM is super-dooper smart and is totally unflappable, even when the Grand Master of Journalism Tony Jones has her totally cornered within the confines of the ‘East Timor Solution’. Sending our asylum seekers to the 20th poorest country in the world which has 40% unemployment? Genius.

With gay marriage off the cards, dumping our ‘boat people’ onto a developing nation, the carbon trading scheme shelved until 2012, it appears its business as usual in the Labor camp.

However, Sen Stephen Conroy has put the internet filter on backburner so we can be thankful for that (for now …).

Wow, written something with more than 140 characters *lies down with a cold flannel on forehead*

Reflections on changing the world in 2.0 days #emc2010

Summer conjures up many ‘s’ words; sun, sexy surfers, swimming and summer school.

Being the consummate dork that I am, I find all of the above as equally exciting, especially when the summer school is about the limitless bounds of 2.0 to create social and environmental change.

To seem like a total smarty pants, none of the information presented was new to me, but then again how can it be? With over a third of Australia’s population on Facebook, established about 5 years ago with about 400 million users globally, social networking sites like FB are no great secret.  But it was the framework of how to engage with communities to start a dialogue and flipping the funnel which got me thinking about our online/offline selves and drivers of behaviour. No matter how carefully crafted your integrated marketing strategy may be it is so hard to get people to care and act.

Even if people are engaged with a subject matter which is often the hardest step, we are so saturated in information and misinformation. For example my friend who is an environmental education officer and I had a conversation about climate change and both of us realised very early on in the piece that the issue is almost too big for us the fathom, so what about the people who don’t care at all? How is change ever going to occur?

I like the idea of leveraging cognitive surplus; the web has created a platform for creative debate but also of videos of goats falling over – both are of equal importance. Never underestimate the power of fun

 – Also, per previous post, I found the men!  Men it seems if they forgo the wealth of the private sector like to loiter in the halls of power and politics. Journalists, campaign managers, freelance consultants; these men are working towards a social good yet some have the air of a Prius driver about them and wear expensive shoes.

For blogs that are more informative than mine:
http://nonprofitorgs.wordpress.com/ – Very useful blog if you want tips to make the most of the latest tools and to optimise your online presence. Especially written for not-for-profits but good for any group.
http://gillin.com/ – Paul Gillin, author, blogger and pioneer writer in the field. Definitely worth subscribing to.