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Over my shoulder

The past couple of weeks it has been crunch time. Hectic and sleepless days. But we have reached the end with loads of knowledge and ideas in our proverbial suitcases! To run things down I’ll look at the areas that are of the most use to our NGO, the Tiny Houses.

For any corporation or organization there is a need for structure to reach targets. An organization such as Tiny Houses wants to create a community in the flesh. To reach that goal there are several obstacles. The organization has a current group of core members. This means that there is a need for work teams to tackle the obstacles.

having a work team will be crucial as different people with different skill sets are brought together and utilized to fulfill their roles which allows the organization to grow effectively and efficiently. The role of the technology steward and its value has been extensively discussed. It is a role that requires many qualities, such as passion to have consistency in the output, and awareness to be in the know of the latest developments in online communities/platforms, and of course also having the knowledge and skill to realize the needs of the organization when it comes to online presence. If the work teams are constructed wisely it can harvest results which would have otherwise been inconsistent and/or lacking in quality.

Having work teams adds organization and structure seeing as the tasks and goals are grouped and divided for the teams in the first place. it gives a direction to the members and shares the workload. This can translate into the results showing positivity and a clear push forward in terms of progress. The groups must be managed attentively to assure results and activity on all fronts. The right people must be put together with qualities that complement each other in order to insure optimum results. Otherwise progress can stall and things will go slower than if it was done individually. The sizes of the groups must also be managed with consideration.

Working in teams is beneficial to the quality of work when the members are critical toward not only their own work but also that of their fellow team members. the members can act as a sounding-board to each other as well, allowing the others to bring out their thoughts (or even encourage them) and developing them together at the same time. having to work in a good team also forces the members to work at a good pace. I have experienced that when I am working alone the amount of work done over time is very inconsistent. But by working in a group and regularly meeting the work will be done more efficiently while also having a high quality.

Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Untitled

Marketing and the internet era

It’s fair to say that I was more than a little confused about the marketing models. I always thought, and still do to some extent, that all the business and marketing equations have mostly been developed through common sense. That gave me the impression that it therefore must also be easy to grasp and put into practice. That is how it looked like from the outside. After this week I know that that is simply not the case generally. Marketing ‘strategies’ is the more apt term that to me also implies that analysis and evaluation is involved.
Having said that, it is obvious that I am not very knowledgeable about marketing. I do understand that marketing is not only advertising but consists of research to for example find environments where the product can be placed for exposure. After looking at the Coca Cola, purple goldfish and value proposition models I came away with ideas based on them associated to our NGO. The Coca Cola model wherein the brand is presented in the local fashion does not apply to our model as Tiny Houses aren’t a global brand. However, the other two models fit well. The purple goldfish strategy focuses on the brand presenting their service in a way that shows how it is unique and different. We can take the downsides of other forms of housing where the tiny houses actually have their strong points. So how would the tiny house community be different to a standard living area. In a somewhat similar way, value proposition can be used to highlight the benefits of tiny houses.

During this course we have looked at implementing online communities, platforms to organizations. And we can also look at the marketing from this angle. One of the advantages we have in the internet age is that we can release content and promote by ourselves and still reach a large number people. However, simply reaching them is not enough as after reaching the target group their attention needs to be gained for them to actually see what your service is about. They need to be convinced that they need the product or in this case the community. Further on, online tools must be effectively used, such as ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’. This lets the audience that is interested present it to their own social circle. Seeing as people in social circles tend to have similar interests then this can increase the likelihood of the organization to receive their next ‘like.’ All possibilities for gaining exposure must be exploited. Another factor that must always be considered when promoting is consistency. The page should not be active for a month by posting content, information about the developments and progress of the organization, while disappearing for an extended period of time.
The online tools and platforms need to be effectively used and content must be consistently produced for the audience to maintain relevancy. A Facebook group that lets enthusiasts present their projects or the houses they own. It is also a way to measure interest and size of audience. Crowdsourcing-funding let people get involved and feel connected to the community and the ongoing project of growing the community while providing ideas/knowledge and funds for the community.
Regular blogs can be posted about the progress of the community and general news and also other developments that could be of interest to the community.
With all that, it starts to become obvious that it is no small piece of work to take care of promoting and content distribution online. Therefore a technology steward is of considerable importance.

It has been very useful and informative for me look at this area of online promotion and presence. I will be using all this information and string of thoughts to apply to my own projects. There is definitely passion and motivation needed to consistently be active to help grow a brand or organization.

Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Untitled

To crowdfund, or not to crowdfund

Crowdfunding is the latest of funding innovations. The artist/entrepreneur can reach its internet-using investors directly without a mediator. Its popularity and usage has been increasing exponentially ever since the first platform came to be in 2006. Numerous groups and individuals have raised millions of dollars for their product or the service they are offering.

The concept seems simple. A venture or project is introduced through an online platform to visitors/users of said website. They can act as investors and offer monetary support by funding any projects that they see fit. The investor can give whatever kind of figure they are willing to.

The project/product/service can be in any phase when presented on the crowdfunding platform. This means that it can be only an idea which is promised to be brought to reality once the target figure has been reached.

On the surface it seems nice and ideal but the same perks can turn out to be constraining. 

While it becomes easier for entrepreneurs to raise funds and focus on their project, it also means that the model they are offering won’t be going through the process of being shaped and improved as a result of feedback and the need to present the project in the best possible way to attract attention and good rap.

Through crowdfunding the entrepreneur can connect itself to a much larger crowd of potential investors. Also more people can participate in donations as the figures can be small. However, the crowdunding investor is far more removed from the business than VCs are from theirs. There’s generally not much substantial information available and this can lead to many doners/investors funding uninformed with investments potentially going to smoke. It does benefit smart people, I guess.

Crowdfunding does give the opportunity to more far fetched ideas to blossom. Ideas that wouldn’t stand a chance in the real competitive market. Although these ventures do run high risks and investors could again be left stranded.

Crowdfunding will continue to rise in some form. The platform boosts the economic cycle while creativity is encouraged. It’s a great way for businesses and brands to start off in order to move on to distinguishing themselves. VCs will still come in at later stages as larger sums are needed but in a society full of global brands crowdfunding is a welcome development and one that will change the entrepreneurial landscape considerably.

Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Untitled

The dynamics of the work group

One thing I was not taught in high-school was how to work in a group. It is something that you learn most about through experience. It is interesting to note that there are scientific ways of optimising the way a group functions. Such as making a balanced team consisting of members with ways of thinking that on the whole complement each other. So there is one decision maker, one organiser and creative members and so on. But here I am going to talk about my own experiences of working in my group and what I draw from them.

So far everything feel like it has been going good. There have been no holdups, everybody is contributing, and the results we have so far seem satisfying. I’m happy that I have group members that are inspiring, energetic and always up to the task.

Although that makes easier to drift off. I always try to keep a working balance in the group so the burdens don’t fall on a select few. Therefore I especially hate it if I’m the one slacking. I have noticed that this generally happens during the hangouts. There are members who are much more expressive and take up most of the space. This causes other members to draw back. This is not a bad thing in my opinion. Giulio has come forth as the natural communicator. All the work is done before and after the hangout anyways.

It seems to me that it gets harder to work when we’re all trying to actively participate or have any input at all. The number is too large and thoughts get drowned. The group should still be somewhere between 5 and 7 but splitting up the group into subgroups is crucial for efficient output. When in pairs there is full attention from one side to the other and so there is pressure to thinking and then there is also room for the thoughts to grow in and voice themselves.

I also feel like the mix of cultures in a group can have mixed results. The positive side of it is that in a group where there is diversity of culture you can be provided with different perspectives, often contrasting. This gives a good view of how different kinds of people would view the project as well. However, on the other this also could make it harder to work in a group as the mechanics of the members and their way of working could differ in a way or to the point where they work against each other. In our case, with the NGO, I feel like it the positive side is more highlighted. The emphasis is on the community with out NGO and if the community is working the organisation is running. By having diversity in the group we can perhaps filter ideas in a way that reflects the community’s will.

If the task at hand is a more industrial/concrete type of project then I’d think that a work group with similar backgrounds would be best. There is a certain understanding and communication is fluent.

But all is well here.

Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Untitled

The world through internet shaped glasses

The internet: the biggest net of all. It is a privilege to be part of a generation that can make use of it. We have every bit of information at our fingertips. The possibilities are endless and not only in the form of raw information but also direct communication and entertainment.

I use internet in all capacities. I use it to entertain myself, to gain information about various topics and to communicate with my network.

I often find myself on YouTube to learn new skills (drawing techniques, guitar techniques, etc) or to explore new music, or to become updated on recent events that interest me. I browse news websites to read columns and news in general. There are also sports blogs and science/humor websites I follow for my entertainment but in the way of information of interesting topics.

All that doesn’t hold me back from using the internet for communication and online interaction, though. That is something which is done consistently. The communications can take place at any time while doing any kind of activity. There’s usually a tab of Facebook or e-mail open while I’m doing other things on the computer. However, online applications are the main reason for the consistency rather than the need for communication itself. I’d probably be way more out of touch if it wasn’t for my smartphone.

There also different means for communicating on the web. Through text but also through softwares such as Skype or Google hangout where it is possible to converse with each other by talking in addition to seeing each other. I use Skype nearly everyday. It started for talking to my siblings and then my parents and friends.

What I have noticed is that I do not partake in any conversations on the internet when it comes to the wider network. I confine myself to those I am close to. When I was much younger I used to be more outspoken on the internet communities I was part of. As of now I prefer to observe and for obtaining information simply use the available data on the web. I feel as if not much is to be gained by communicating in the wider network (at least from my experience). Whatever you’re looking for can be found in a much more efficient way and perhaps even more complete.

I communicate with my bounded groups because I feel that there is something to gain. Something that tends to be personal.

Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Untitled

An exploration of me as a technology steward

Well. Where to begin? It is difficult to pick thoughts that are not clear. And with that I’m implying that I’m struggling to imagine what I could offer as a technology steward.

My affairs with the online world have been tenuous in recent times. I have moved myself further away from it as I built a core of friends in the real world and was finding my way through the crowds of people around me.

When I was younger the internet was a world that provided me with whatever I wanted; and this made me disinterested in people. Whatever they offered paled in comparison it seemed. Which in turn encouraged me to dive further into cyberspace.

My journeys ranged from online gaming addiction to teaching myself guitar from YouTube. From that sentence I take away one thing: I used the online resources mainly to entertain myself. And from that statement I can conclude that I am probably not any more informed or experienced than most people. Especially in the case of social media. I even arrived a good couple of years late to the Facebook party. Simply because it didn’t offer me anything that I needed.

However, social media did start to become ever so slightly relevant during the previously mentioned period where I became interested in people. As my network of friends grew I needed a platform to keep me connected to them. This is also why it didn’t grow on me any further. I believe that by virtue of being more of a private person I liked to keep my experiences to myself. People who needed to know what I’m doing knew it so I did not feel any pressure to promote myself.

And so we arrive to the present. As I am transitioning from consumer to provider I feel the importance of social media growing. Personally I’ve started to promote myself as a musician and 80% of this is probably done through the web. (The other 20% being real life interactions.) I have a product/service/organization that I am promoting and social media and other parts of the web are the most accessible ways to reach the masses. At this stage I am using whatever platform I have experience with but also ones that I have yet to become familiar with but have proven to be useful. Facebook, twitter, soundcloud, bandcamp, and youtube. It needs to be said that I always came across things that were relevant to what I was interested when I was a ‘consumer’ and roamed the web to entertain myself. This means that if this product/service/organization has any potential it will reach its audience. The problem with the tiny house movement is that it’s something that people might not be aware they want until they come across it in some way. Much like Oreos. So the solution I would offer is be active on the main social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter) and seek similar organizations that have been successful through online networking and see what they have done. In my own case I found out that a number of artists broke out through soundcloud. This was a sign that I should use it. I also witnessed the fall of myspace as no bands broke out through it after 2011. This informed me that it would be a waste of time to participate in it. Bandcamp is a platform for musicians to receive crowdfunding. Again, the same applies to the NGO.

My approach would be rather practical it seems. Certainly use platforms that I have experience with but also broaden my scope to unfamiliar platforms that are showing results. This way, everyone in the group should have their pick in the ultimate tool choices and if not then some will need to get out of their comfort zone.

PS:  I was wondering how hard it can be to grow the tiny house community into a solid connected network of enthusiasts. If there are shows and exhibitions all over the world in which people dress up as Japanese anime characters and where thousands of people visit, surely it is possible?

Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Untitled

Finding feet

After finding out what NGO we had and getting the assignment last week, there was still the sense of incoherence and confusion toward what I needed to accomplish.
However, despite the dissapointment of not managing to get in touch with our NGO, I can feel the clouds clearing up. Ideas started coming as I searched for ways that will help with growing the organization. I don’t exactly know what is expected as an end result but what we have now are certainly suggestions that are feasible and realistic and dare I say could be exciting prospects for our NGO.
Furthermore, our roles in the group seem to be becoming more defined in a natural way, which is an interesting development by itself. Some engage in visualizing the ideas while the others brainstorm and search for solutions and another seeks to keep in touch with references and people related to the project.
This progression is delighting to see and is a good omen for what is to come.

Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Untitled

Impressions & confusiasm

I feel like these first days wherein we have been introduced to the courses personally have been more about getting the feel for how the comings and goings are. It is hard to explain such complex psychological occurrences. In each community people act and react in certain ways that differ from other situations. Like bees in a beehive there’s a certain understanding between all of us, without the need for speech. So that’s basically what I feel like I’ve been unconsciously processing.
Of course there are also things that happened consciously in my mind. This occurred mainly during the lectures when we were being introduced to our courses. I was doing my best to have an understanding of what we will be doing and what is expected.
What I see is a course which leaves much open for the interpretation of the student. There is also a clear progression and structure involved. This may be obvious but at first I was wondering when the all talk about marketing, entrepreneurship and other social aspects will lead to design and innovation. The reasoning seems to be that without knowing ourselves (which is what we are doing now) we cannot move on to the design stages (?) There are certain fundamentals required to design products, which is what I am mainly interested in, and to get there I need to build an understanding of myself, my strengths and so forth (?)

Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Untitled