Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Internet Strategy - Who's Listening - Part 2?

When I started using the Internet in the late 1990s there was great optimism of how I could connect with people from throughout Chicago and the world to share ideas, learn, give support and gain support that would help me and others solve really difficult problems.

In August I wrote an article titled Sharing Ideas. Who's Listening and reflected on the reality that many who I was hoping would find and read my blog articles or browse my web sites are not even on the Internet, or using it for this purpose.

I've been further dismayed today after reading this article, by Robert Scoble, comparing Twitter, Facebook and Medium. I've had a growing concern that the amount of time I spend on Twitter (now have over 2,000 followers) is not connecting me with people involved in Chicago tutor/mentor programs (volunteers, leaders, donors, etc.) because few are actively using Twitter to engage. At the same time, the filtering Facebook has done over the past half-decade has also reduced the ability of the grassroots organizer to build a conversation and engage a crowd. I just started posting articles from my blogs on Medium, to try to expand my reach, but so far don't see much evidence of viewers finding them. I've also been posting articles on LinkedIn, which have gained some traction, but this platform was not included in Scoble's review.

I continue to believe that a great idea, even if created by a grade school youth in a rural community, can change the world, if it is shared on the Internet, and if others find it. However, I'm finding that this is more and more a game of chance where those who come from wealth and power, or have been lucky enough to generate their own celebrity following, are monopolizing Internet attention, making it more and more difficult for those creative ideas to gain the sunlight they need to breath and grow.

I have always been aware of the difficulty of mobilizing support for the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategies without a significant advertising budget or celebrity/business support. That's why the two graphics shown above are important. The graphic on the left shows a diagram that any program could create to show the different work-experience background of the volunteers it recruits to connect and influence the youth the program serves. The programs I've led always had volunteers from many different business backgrounds. Some helped me build the internet strategies I use today.

The graphic on the right shows the potential that volunteers who participate in well-organized, on-going programs, will begin to reach out to their own peers and network on a regular basis to build additional support for their own program, and for similar programs in their own city.

View this animation and see how a volunteer who stays involved multiple years begins to advocate and draw others to support the organization.

Here is another animation that shows volunteer involvement in a well-organized tutor/mentor program is a form of service learning. As with the first animation, this shows how volunteers begin to recruit others as they tell the story of their on-going involvement.

If enough programs were encouraging volunteers to talk about the need for their type of program to be consistently supported, AND, duplicated in other neighborhoods, we'd have the many voices needed to draw attention to our ideas via social media and traditional communications outlets.

Of course if too few read this, and too few re-post it to their own networks, this idea will never get the sunlight it needs to grow and expand.

You can help change that if you share this article with your own friends, family and co-worker network.

March 2020 update - Here's article about efforts to develop the Internet in the Soviet Union in the 1960s was derailed by self-interested, competing factions (e.g. capitalism).

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