Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog. We’ve moved to our new domain at http://www.blog.webserves.org/
Check out our shiny new site for news and updates.
Hope to see you there.
Me fail English? That’s unpossible!
Kudos for today’s blog title goes to Ralph Wiggum. In response to the recent spate of articles and blogs concerned with grammar - or the lack thereof - in offices and digital correspondences globally, I feel compelled to weigh in. This dialogue began last month with an article by Sue Shellenbarger in The Wall Street Journal, This Embarrasses You and I*, and continued with responses by Kyle Wiens and Susan Adams.
As a student of English, my education inclines me to side with the naysayers and deplore the death of the English language at the hands of txtspk and other grammatical crimes, brought about by an over-reliance on spellcheck and, perhaps, even an obliviousness to the “correct” way of doing things. It is in these moments when I am most grateful to the wordsmith, Stephen Fry, for his guidance and understanding in linguistic matters. I find this video soothes my ingrained urges and reminds me to, instead, enjoy the evolution and fluidity of a living language.
While I do my best to abide by the rules of grammar in my own writing, I try not to let it get in the way of the rhythm. I can think of nothing more abhorrent than being one of those on twitter that feel the need to correct every grammatical error. Twitter is a real-time social media channel and grammar is seldom its focus. If someone is consistently misusing to, too and two, a friendly correction can be beneficial to all parties, but if it is a single typo by a skydiver tweeting as they plummet to Earth, I’m willing to let it slide.
There are exceptions to this laissez-faire approach, as stated by Fry, in partial agreement with Wiens; “You slip into a suit for a job interview and you dress your language up too.” Similar to a job interview, consumers assess businesses online by the strength of their content, which requires an attention to grammar. As Wiens argues [emphasis added],
Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence.
In spite of the relaxed setting of social media channels, if you are using these channels professionally you must act and sound professional. Whenever you are representing your organization, you need to act appropriately. That’s just good business. If you are meeting with a client, you dress and speak appropriately, so why should interactions with your audience on social media be any less professional?
Whatever your feelings on grammar used in the office or outside of work, it is good practice to ensure your online identity is supported by grammatically correct content. Poor grammar can undermine your image and distract from your message. A good policy to follow, as noted by Shellenbarger, is Bryan A. Garner’s requirement for “employees to have at least two other people copy-edit and make corrections to every important email and letter that goes out.” So by all means take your jacket off, put your feet up, speak freely in work and on your personal twitter account, but have your professional online content proofread. Twice.
The WebServes Blog Rises
Hello and welcome to a new season of the WebServes blog. My name is Peter and I will be your WebHost today. We at WebServes believe the work we do is important. By empowering other nonprofits through technology, we ourselves are making a contribution and contributing feels good. Like right now, I’m contributing to this blog - Yes it’s intimidating and yes creating new content takes mammoth motivation because it really is so much easier to share, like or +1 somebody else’s content. Sharing is simpler and faster than creating original content and genuinely important since sharing content is kinda the whole point of the Internet. But, somebody has to create content for the rest of us to share so I’ll take the plunge today, if only to allow my conscience to share, like and +1 in peace for the next few days.
So what’s it all about? This blog is about a lot of things, because WebServes is about a lot of things. I’ll paste some formal text here to explain:
WebServes empowers nonprofit organizations, start-ups and small businesses through technology. We are a nonprofit Technology Service Provider that enables others to expand their reach and spread their message online. In the modern age, establishing and maintaining an online presence is a vital and cost-effective way to communicate and interact with constituents. WebServes’ expertise empowers clients to harness the power of the Internet.
With my blogging cap firmly back in place, WebServes has two specialities - The Web and Serving. We understand the World Wide Web in all its intricate glory. Well, we understand it insofar as can be understood. Like astronomers, we can make sense of about 4% and the rest is dark energy or dark matter. But, we’ve really got that 4% nailed down. With our grasp of the Internet, we serve you. We use our expertise, know-how and can-do-attitude to build brands, websites, marketing solutions and offer a whole range of web services to non-profits, start-ups and up-starts. We use our Internet savviness to offer clients a complete and effective online identity. Our clients are numerous and each is unique in their needs. Our understanding of the Web enables us to serve clients with the online resources they need to empower their organization.
That’s what WebServes does but what does this blog do? That’s a good question and one that, for now, eludes total understanding. This blog is a living thing and will evolve over time. For now, we hope that it will be a resource for visitors to learn about exciting new developments in the greater Internet domain, the nonprofit landscape as well as here at WebServes. So far our team are working on topics under the following headings:
Insights into the uses of Internet technology
Best practices among nonprofit technology leaders
Reflections on emergent technology developments
We will also be using this blog as an opportunity to share stories and videos from outside sources that we consider deserving of endorsement (if you can’t beat ‘em, link ‘em).
We’re 96% sure that’s what this blog will be. Maybe 4% is more realistic. We hope that you will come back often and tell us how we’re doing.
WebServes December 2011 Newsletter
What’s Happening at WebServes
· Develop online training curriculum for our Tech Agents.
· Recruit experts as mentors in the key areas of web and Internet technologies.
· Provide access to online learning tools and resources.
· Replace outdated computer equipment.
· Cultivate relationships with job placement resources and employers.
· Bolster relationships with post-graduate educational opportunities.
Your donation will not only support a great cause, but you will gain a tax deduction!
WebServes proudly announces the launch of Global Sound Project’s website. GSP is a non-profit organization that promotes cultural awareness and international collaboration through user- generated sharing of everyday sounds collected from around the world. GSP was a winner of our first 2011 Impact Award. Show your support by uploading a local sound to their website, or by purchasing some of their apparel. Also stay posted for news on 2012 Impact Award submission deadlines.
We are also pleased to announce the official launch of Bare Naked Bake Sale website. This site contains a complex and innovative crowd-funding platform that allows users to interact with organizers through fundraising activities and events to promote any given cause. BNBS combines crowdfunding in provocative ways to raise money for charities. We worked closely with BNBS founders in order to accomplish the unique needs, services and requirements of their site.
This past month was very special to WebServes for a special milestone: we launched the greatest number of websites in the shortest time in the history of our organization. The following sites were launched in the last 45 days:
This accomplishment was made possible by streamlining the workload distribution among our teams, use of more effective collaboration methods and improved communication with our clients in order to better meet their goals.
This blog is a great resource for beginners and more advanced players in the world of Google Analytics. There are video webinars, archived topics and learning center resources for those who want to understand how to better drive traffic to their sites.
“Grants for Non-Profits” Index summarizes technology grants recently made available to non-profits to support their missions, increase tech innovation, and promote efficiency. Many major software manufacturers and hardware corporations have now made giving to non-profits across all sectors a high priority. These grants are available for non-profit- business-education or community partnerships such as supporting IT training for clients, graduating skilled workers or retraining employees.
Passing Shots - 2
December 14th, 2011
This October, two technology notables passed away: Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie. It occasioned a huge outpouring of responses, particularly for Jobs (posts in the millions), some for Dennis Ritchie and a few about both.
Everyone reading this will know who Steve Jobs was, but is much more likely that these readers would not know who Dennis Ritchie was (or why they should know or even care).
There is a likelihood you’d know Ritchie if you worked in IT, Internet or Web space. To use another frame of reference (at the risk of a somewhat gross generalization), one could say that every time your finger glides over or taps the surface of your iPhone or iPod to interact with one of those elegant, smart devices so successfully developed and marketed by Steve Jobs, you should think of Dennis Ritchie. He is one of the key contributors to the underlying framework, the enabling technologies that make the Apple Empire what it is.
Ritchie wrote the C programming language and co-developed the UNIX operating system (with Ken Thompson). The C language family remains among the top two or three most popular programming languages in the world; and UNIX led to Linux.
Ritchie’s work in the late 60’s and early 70’s ushered in a new era of mini-computer and PCs that made possible the computer devices that we buy from companies like Apple. The Apple OS is based in UNIX. Many of the applications that run on these devises (in the OS) were written in C (or its cousins and descendants). It should also be noted that the World Wide Web was itself credited to a certain Berners-Lee who worked on a UNIX-based NeXT computer (donated by a certain S. Jobs). And, furthermore, the majority of websites currently run in LINUX, which is directly derived from UNIX.
Detecting a certain pattern or synergy here? We return to Jobs and Apple to complete the connections with Dennis Ritchie (and others of his ilk), who labored in the shadow of more famous and publically prominent individuals. Ritchie developed and contributed to the world what can be thought of as “enabling” technologies. As has been the case in numerous historical instances, the enablers were usually over-shadowed by the appliers, those who saw the applicability of the tools and processes and pushed them to public adoption.
After surveying dozens of posts following the deaths of both Jobs and Ritchie, I was struck by the impressive reflection of the values of the people who posted, as well as the values ascribed to the principals themselves. Or, if not their own personal values, what they represented to those who responded to their passing.
The posts that compared the two are the most revealing perhaps since the frames of reference range from journalistic obit to historical reflection. In more than one blog, Jobs is compared to Thomas Edison and Ritchie gets paralleled with Nikola Tesla. There is even a post that asks people for similar kinds of pairings, producing Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray, Newton and Leibniz. The most surprising post offered a comparison between Jobs and Martin Luther King. Really!
I believe the most productive historical comparisons would be Jobs and Edison weighed against Ritchie and Tesla.
“After witnessing the media fervor and outpouring of praise on social networks by tens of millions for Jobs, and nothing close to that for Ritchie, one name came to my mind: Nikola Tesla… In case you didn’t know, Tesla perfected the alternating current system (AC) that allows you to flip a switch and get light in your house. He also created a motor that could be run on AC, and that became the basis for all the other motors that are in the appliances in your house. Oh yeah, he also filed the first radio patent, not Marconi…Tesla’s inventions have been kind of a big deal for the past century or so…They’re things we just take for granted, but we shouldn’t…
Tesla worked as an assistant to Thomas Edison. Edison died rich and famous. Tesla died poor and mostly unknown. Jobs died a famous multi-billionaire. I can’t say for sure how wealthy Ritchie was, but it’s an easy assumption that he wasn’t as wealthy as Jobs and he didn’t garner a smidgen of the notoriety.”
As Paul Ceruzzi, a Smithsonian historian, points out amidst the flurry of comparisons following both Jobs and Ritchie’s deaths, that they were “sort of apples and oranges” — “Ritchie was under the radar. His name was not a household name at all, but…if you had a microscope and could look in a computer, you’d see his work everywhere inside.”
And to complement that description, we have the following from Chris Kelly and Gabriella Coleman:
“The difference in their legacies is instructive. One of them created a brand, a way of life, and a slick, safe and intuitive experience sold to millions of people. The other created an infrastructure through which generations of engineers, programmers, hackers and entrepreneurs have come to understand what computers are capable of doing. Both were revered by those in the IT industry and they both created great things. But only one is being lionized [sic] in the public eye…We might want to rethink that.”
We should not take people like Ritchie (or Tesla either) for granted. Yet it is Jobs (and Edison before him) that is lionized and lauded. It makes for better media, marketing and hype, but is it the set of values we want to promote among our peers or our children?
Dennis Richie was not an “also-ran.” He was one of the great Enablers of our time (most recent couple of generations). Furthermore, he contributed directly (and indirectly) to Jobs’ success, which fact should also elevate our need to question what others may make such successes possible.
Scrutiny of important technological advances in our global society clearly reveals a predictable mix of the prominent and the little known. Even closer inspection provides sufficient justification to see Jobs in the shade of Ritchie’s tree, not the other way around.
WebServes October Newsletter
What’s Happening at WebServes
WebServes is privileged to announce the re-vamp and updated website for Seamen’s Society for Children and Families. We have re-developed this website to coincide with the October 27th, 2011 annual Black & White Gala attended by the former President Bill Clinton as Guest Speaker.
WebServes also announces with pleasure the launch and branding of hello tomorrow, a start-up business by founders Michelle Stuart and Mary Eiff. They commissioned WebServes to develop a logo for the brand identity to be used for all communications and external media, as well as to be incorporated into the website interface.
Tips of the Month
The following link has information and strategies, about the use of internet in the organization of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Steven Paul Jobs: Passing Shots
October 28th, 2011
I was walking down Broadway with a group of 5,000 or so other New Yorkers on our way to join the OWS occupation in Zuccotti Park on October 5, when word of Steven Paul Jobs passing reached me in a buzz of verbal outburst and SMS smartphone vibration. Of course, it was not unexpected to Apple watchers, which I suspect many of those in the crowd were to some extent, these teachers, writers, communication, film and media union workers. The crowd was largely the first generation of the consumers and users of technology produced out of the entrepreneurship and innovation of Steve Jobs.
There is no difficulty in understanding the status of this American icon. For many, Jobs embodied the most lauded of American myths: the hardworking, dedicated, innovative, self-made individual. And, there’s more: he changed peoples’ lives.
Jobs is a luminous figure imbued with qualities that are extremely compelling to many people around the world, not just Americans. He also died with his coached and approved biography ready for publication, with Apple vindictively pursuing patent suits and hounding leakers; with personal worth in excess of $2 billion; and no public record of philanthropy.
These observations are not pointing toward deprecation of Jobs’ accomplishments or to minimize his significant contribution to our society in some important ways. But the mythic may overwhelm and obscure the factual and core nature of what we can think of Jobs representing. Jobs’ most influential accomplishments largely unaddressed in many posts may be:
1) He made a major contribution to industrial design and the UX (user experience) of machines.
2) He made significant contributions to strategic marketing practice and the power of The Brand.
According to many observers over the years, Jobs was notoriously obsessed with design and style. He contributed directly to the design process and is associated with over 200 design-specific features of Apple product. Interesting note: One of his patents is for the glass staircase design in the Apple retail stores. He was referred to as the “ultimate tester” and signed off on every product and accessory coming out of Apple. His vision of the pre-eminence of industrial design as a core part of the business proposition was reflected in his founding of the Apple Industrial Design Group (IDG) in 1977.
Jobs, himself, did not design everything, but he hired top designers to lead that dimension of his business. Some of the designers have become icons in their own right, like Jonathan Ive, but others preceded him and deserve identification.
Over the years, Apple with and without Jobs as CEO developed, manufactured and distributed some of the most elegantly designed and user-centered tech products, starting with innovative PCs to the most recent iPads. These are not just refined objects that might find their way into the MOMA or Cooper-Hewitt design collections. These are visually and physically effective and usable. These devices have incorporated and even elevated the key principles of user-centered design and standards-setting levels of user experience.
The integral relationship between this prioritized orientation to the industrial and experience design has characterized Apple under the influence of Steve Jobs. But what stands out too, is how well this fundamental valuation of aesthetics and usability contributes to the marketability of these products AS design and style, not just tech products that DO things. Jobs was demonstrably interested in how people felt about the use of the things his company produced. Thus, his products had the signal features of both being well designed functionally and experientially. This allows us to think of Jobs, not just as a successful, billionaire businessman, but someone who contributed to improving the quality of life (for those who could afford his goods).
This does of course still lead us back to our gathering at Zuccotti Park where we ponder questions about how much wealth should anyone (or one percent) possess or control, and what social good is produced out of the activity of amassing that wealth.
As a coda, I would add (from another SJ blog post):
He had taste.
He was curious.
He was patient.
He was foolish.
He was hungry.
These things many others can do. Maybe you can.
Maybe you can, but do you wish to do so Steve Job’s way?
Maybe you’d like to consider other models, like Dennis Ritchie.
Upcoming Blog: “Passing Shots 2: Steve Jobs versus Dennis Ritchie”
Google+ for Nonprofits and Small Businesses
Although Google+ isn’t open for company profiles yet, it doesn’t hurt to get a head start in planning how to use it. Think of Google+ as a Facebook/Twitter hybrid. It combines the best of both worlds, but with some additional features that make it different.
1. Spend time organizing all of your followers into their respective circles, this is a main feature of Google+ that distinguishes it from other social networks, so take advantage of it.
Google+’s main focus is allowing users to segment their followers into circles. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the drag and drop interface makes it easy for users to organize their followers into interest groups. When those company profiles come around, you will be able to target your messages to specific audiences. Instead of having a message geared towards the general public, you can have several different messages that each cater to the interests of a defined group.
2. Use Google Hangouts to connect with clients, supporters, funders, and team members.
Hangouts is another distinguishing feature of Google+. With hangouts, users can connect with their circles via a live web chat. Currently, hangouts can have up to ten people in one session. According to Marc Pitman, from The Fundraising Coach, Google hangouts is the present-day equivalent to “fireside chats”. The idea is to have one representative from the company host an open office hangout where supporters and funders can ask questions and have a representative answer them in a web conference. People can join at anytime during the hangout, and it’s a great way to spur conversation amongst your circles. Even after the hangout ends, the conversation often continues in your stream.
3. Add your interests to Google Sparks
By adding your interests to Google Sparks, you can stay up to date with all the latest news surrounding a topic. You can easily share articles with your followers and spark conversations about industry news. Nonprofits can simply sign into their Google+ account to keep track of news regarding fundraising, marketing and industry events.
Google recently closed their beta sign up for business profiles, but they will be releasing a fully developed version later this year. You can read up on updates by adding “google+ business” to your Sparks.