WordPress Consulting

Yah! I’m doing a bunch of WordPress consulting. I’ve gotten several jobs recently to help people tweak this wonderful bit of software. Everything from creating whole themes to adding plugins to making changes in existing themes. Hopefully in the near future I’ll be able to show you my work and update my portfolio. So if you need help with your WordPress blog let me know. Thanks.

Update: Right now I’m completely focused on running a brick n’ mortar business called Carrboro Coworking. So no wordpress consulting right now. 😦

Civic engagement and technology: CMS

Yesterday I attended the Civic Engagement and Technology Workshop held by the Triangle Community Foundation at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development. I really enjoyed the discussion led by Rob Stuart and all kinds of local nonprofits. I’m excited to see what different groups do with what they learned about network centric advocacy and the web.

I got a chance to speak in a session that was sorta like speed geeking. [Speed geeking is a participation process used to quickly view a number of presentations within a fixed period of time.]

I talked to people about Content Management Systems. I defined them this way. A Content Management System is a type of web based application that can simplify the creation of powerful websites used by large numbers of contributors.

My primary goal was to answer questions and give practical advice that could be used right away. I lumped several different kinds of dynamic web application types under the CMS umbrella. Such as Portals (CMS), Blogs, Wikis, E-learning, and Forums. Here are the specific examples we talked about:

Drupal – full featured CMS
WordPress – blog software that can do so much more
MediaWiki– the software that powers Wikipedia
Vanilla – Great easy to use forum software

I told folks about the differences between this software and their similarities. I work with clients to discover what is right for them no matter the platform but I personally recommend Open Source software when ever I can.

Here are the links I shared to help folks learn more about CMS.

cmsmatrix.org – compare cms
WordPress.com – Free wordpress blog hosting
opensourcecms.com – Demo all kinds of free CMS

One of my main messages was just to jump in feet first and do it! You can set up a blog in under five minutes. Experiment and test out web software like a blog. It’ll help you learn about how this kind of software works. Learning by doing is the best!

Five Aspects of Effective Networks

Check out these Five Aspects of Effective Networks from Marty Kearns.

  • Social Ties
  • Common Story
  • Dense Communication Grid
  • Shared Resources
  • Clarity of Purpose

Marty fleshes out the 5 here.

How do I learn about this stuff? Fortunately I’m married to one of the foremost experts in this field, Ruby Sinreich. She’s a network centric advocacy innovator. I owe her a lot. Ruby has a great slide show about this here. Also check out Ruby’s Network-centric reading list.

Now what I’m going to do is translate these ideas, and others, to fit within unique business environments. Some of it is semantics and other parts are cultural. I’m still WAY interested in how positive social change can be brought about with network centric advocacy. But I’m also interested in how we can raise the social responsibility of businesses by developing social networking evironments. I think a big part of this is how people interact with each other online and offline. When people are highly connected they SEE each other as real humans instead of abstract numbers. I believe this can really effect the financial bottom line of any organization.

Social Network Software for Enterprise

Ed Cone has a great article on CIO Insight called Social Networks at Work Promise Bottom-Line Results. Its really got me thinking about the adoption of social network software by companies of all sizes.

Interesting synergy that I found this. I’m consulting companies about social software right now plus I’m checking out Microsoft’s Sharepoint. Wachovia is deploying it for all its employees. Its a Windows Server addon that creates a social network for business Intranets. Its got calendars, file sharing, blogs, etc. Nothing new to the web but rather new to the insides of corporations.

This has me wondering, what enterprise level social software is out there? I’m especially interested in stuff built to run with LAMP. (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) I think Drupal + CiviCRM could be one. But I’m not sure that combo has the interface that a big business wants. It would be great for small businesses, non-profits, and other organizations. I wonder what the largest user base of any Drupal install is?

I must mention activeCollab and Basecamp. Two very useable pieces of social software that are mainly hosted solutions. While I’m at it I gota mention Salesforce. TONS of businesses are using that now. Plus it appears to have a strong API and dev community. But these have a more CRM functionality. But they could act as online social hangouts. Ruby reminds me that there is a lot of software that can be used in social ways even though it wasn’t intended to.

Right now I’m checking out a bunch of other apps like Dolphin, Grabgrass, Drupal, etc. These aren’t necessarily right for big businesses but who knows… Have any other suggestions? Big or small?

When I was a AVID editor’s assistant in LA I went to a event where the famous film editor Gabriella Cristiani was speaking. She won an Oscar in 1988 for editing the Bertolucci film The Last Emperor. She spoke about the art of editing film. Not once did she mention software. But mentioned she gave lessons in editing. At the end I asked her which editing software she used. She told me it didn’t really matter which application I used. Good editing was good editing no matter which tool you used. That advice has stuck with me. At the time I was convinced I had to be a master AVID editor to make a living.

I think this good advice about tools can be applied to social software. We can build communities and leverage the advantages of the strong connections built no matter what software tools we use. True some practical considerations come into play and effect our choices. But I plan on remembering what Ms. Cristiani said when I advise people about what to choose. Each group has unique needs. I plan on serving them in unique ways each time. We’ll build what is best for the group at that time.

7 Principles of Community Building

The social media for business blog Now is Gone has a damn cool post by Geoff Livingston called The Seven Principles of Community Building. Nice to see this codified. Bloggers live much of this by instinct. This is GREAT advice.

1) Do not try to control the message

2) Honesty, ethics and transparencies are musts

3) Participation within the community is marketing (Heuer)

4) Communication to audiences is an out-dated 20th century concept (Rosen)

5) Build value for the community

6) Inspire your community with real, exciting information, not corporate propaganda

7) Intelligently manage your media forms (RSS, frequency, etc.) to build a stronger, loyal community

Thanks to Jim Tobin at Ignite Social Media for sharing this URL.

Social Software and Multimedia Consultant for Hire

I am now available for hire to consult on the creation, care, and feeding of online communities. Plus I can create audio and video for the web. To get an idea of my professional experience you can check out my resume here and my portfolio here.

I’ve been contributing to and creating blogs for many years. I’ve also active on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, del.icio.us, and Ning. I am very interested in how people can use these online tools to connect with each other. I can show you how to use social software and how to build your own.

My experience with social networks extends to physical events too. I’ve helped organize several blogging events and was the lead organizer of PodcasterCon. An unconference about many aspects of Podasting and Video blogging. It was a 300 person one day event at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Its success is due to the people who participated but also the fact we organized ourselves. This was done using social networking tools like blogs, wikis, and podcasts.

I have been shooting and editing video and film since 1989. During the early ’90s I began preparing video for the web. Much of this work is very similar in style to what is now all the rage on YouTube. You can find examples of my video on my portfolio.

In 1997 I earned a certificate in AVID Media Composer. Its the non-linear editing software and hardware used to edit feature films. This experience taught me a lot about telling stories with film and video. I have professional audio and video equipment ready to be put to work for high end web productions.

Plus I produced a podcast show called Audio Activism. This helped me hone my skills in recording and editing audio. Check out my audio archive over at audioactivism.org/audio. Great video depends on clear audio to communicate successfully.

I’m interested in working for non-profits, businesses, and progressive political campaigns. I can help you make your own media and demonstrate how it will strengthen your mission and benefit your organization financially. But most important is communicating with customers, members, and constituents. Please contact me and I’ll help you accomplish your goals.