Another Digital Divide? What's Your Experience?June 24, 2009 3 Comments
Monday, I was working with two different clients, both of whom talked about the great potential technology holds for making their work easier, helping with engaging people and moving the work forward. At the same time, there were deep concerns expressed about what may be another digital divide – that being the divide (within those who have access to technology) between those who naturally gravitate toward the use of technology (the geeks among us) and those who either find it incredibly difficult (or even incomprehensible) and/or those who don’t like technology and find it a totally inadequate substitute for face-to-face conversations. This is on top of the other digital divide – the divide between those who have access to technology and the internet and those who don’t. At the same time, due to climate change and the economic collapse, many groups we work with are cutting back (or even eliminating) travel to meetings and re-thinking how they’re working together.
There’s a group of us within IISC who have been working on how and when to incorporate social media, web 2.0 tools and other technology into social change work. We are learning from some great and knowledgeable advisors (among others, Jessica Lipnack and Jeff Stamps) about ways to hold virtual meetings and are exploring some really helpful tools that can be used for collaboration. And we’re in the midst of asking many of these same questions. When are face-to-face meetings most important and when are virtual meetings the best choice? What are some things that can be done to improve the experience in virtual meetings – both technology tools and improving facilitation practices to support working virtually? What are some ways to make it easier for people to adopt and use technology? Which tools should we use? How much time does it take to set up, manage and train everyone?
These are questions we are hearing almost everywhere in our sector. Nonprofits, foundations and community groups strongly believe technology will help and aren’t sure how to use technology or where to turn for help figuring it out. We’ll share what we’re learning as we go. And we’d love to hear what you’re struggling with, what successes you’ve had and what your hopes are.