The “Working Group for a Sustainable Future for Haiti,” which was convened at the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise at Fairleigh Dickinson University, has released “Haiti – A Way Forward,” an 8-page discussion paper intended as the basis for a conference call scheduled for Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 6 p.m. EST, and you are invited to join us.
Conference Dial-in number: (507) 726-4253
Participant Passcode: 100039#
For more details see the Haiti page at http://sustainableleadershipforum.com/?page_id=587 and our latest updates athttp://sustainableleadershipforum.org.
The earthquake in Haiti has been many things – including both a wakeup call for Americans, and an opportunity to demonstrate our compassion – but it has above all been a human tragedy that has revealed the weaknesses and deficiencies that were there before. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake will no doubt cause some damage no matter where it occurs, but it does not always need to cause the extent of devastation that has occurred in Haiti, or to leave the population as unaided.
Some colleagues of ours at the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise met last week to discuss what we could do to contribute to a longer-term recovery, that would try to address the social, environmental, and economic challenges facing this troubled nation. We talked about a great many things, including the fact that many of us feel powerless in the face of such catastrophes, especially those that afflict human beings in distant places. We are all “overcommitted” to many worthwhile and challenging tasks already, and taking on such a monumental task as helping to chart the way forward in Haiti clearly seems to require that we steal time and energy from other causes. But if we can make even a small difference, while honoring our other commitments, this seems a compelling goal.
My latest game is “EVA, Version 2” – http://eva.atg-host.com – just something fun to play with right now.
EVA stands for “Electronic Virtual Assistant,” an idea I came up with in the 1980s, and actually tried to create, in HyperCard. The idea was to use a kind of rudimentary, mostly simulated, artificial intelligence to have a program be a secretary / executive assistant / project manager / and sometime playmate. I had some fun with her, but ran aground with a few challenges – how to get her to learn, remember, and remind me about things, for example.
Of course, this can probably be done pretty easily through “extensions.” My goal right now, however, is to develop a system for branching conversations in meaningful directions…
For the internal to-do list, click here (requires log-in).
Here are some of the things I’m currently working on:
- Outlining the book
- Conference planning
- Completing the feasibility study
- Getting the Incubator approved and funded
- Moving and backing up all web sites
- Learning wikis and mailing lists
- Follow up on Sustainable Business Network
Here are some of the current links I’m following:
Green Jobs Conference
Even though WordPress is pretty versatile, easily customizable, and fairly extensible, some of the projects I’ve been involved in lately require more than WordPress, and I’ve been looking at:
- Mailing lists
- Other CMS systems such as Mambo and Joomla
and generally trying to extend my capabilities without too steep a learning curve to make it worthwhile.
Every time I adventure out I come back chastened at how little I really know about how to use the tools available, and what this marvelous collective brain that we call the Internet has wrought. Mostly, I decide it’s just too complex, and easier to stick with what I know, but over the winter holidays this year I’ve decided to give it a push, and figure out at least the first two items, wikis and mailing lists. This post is designed to record my early learnings in these two fields.
First, of course, there’s the one here, which is about hosting and managing sites, both our own and for our clients. Then there’s the one at JonathanCloud.com, which is my personal blog and web site. Then there’s the Acumentechnology.net site, which describes our services and interests, and has a somewhat outdated list of initiatives we’re working on.
The Sustainable Business Incubator and Sustainable Business Network site also have blog entries, and the Incubator also has its own “resource network” site, at sustainablebusinessincubator.com/network/. (The SBN site currently points to a Ning site, where anyone can join.) The Green Ventures Conference site / JumpstartGreen.org is also a blog site, currently an archive of the Conference, which is out on audio CD.
The SustainableLeadershipForum.org site is another blog site, and can also be reached at SustainableLeasershipForum.com, SustainableLeadershipNetwork.com and SustainableLeadershipNetwork.org.
I have lots of other WordPress sites, but the other main ones are the Bernards Democrats site, and the Bernards Voices site. Here are some of the others:
More to come, as they get moved over from the previous hosting provider…
All of these sites, except the Ning site and Altonomy, which is just a placeholder page, are WordPress sites. Technically, all these sites are blogs, though some of them focus on the “pages” rather than the “posts,” which makes them more like traditional web sites. But the WordPress innovation is to separate form and content so successfully that it’s actually not worth building a traditional HTML site anymore. Here’s an example of the difference between a blog or WordPress site – Somerset Hills Business Network – and a traditional, “hand-built” site – the old SHBN site – which was a complete bear to maintain.
One of the best uses for the web is workgroup collaboration, and there is no reason this should be restricted to to the big corporations. Small companies, noprofits, and even ad hoc workgroups can use the Internet to manage their activities, build their work products, and keep each other up to date on who’s doing what.
There are all kinds of open-source tools to do this, ranging from complex project management systems to simple (but nonetheless very powerful) wikis. One of the best, and yet in many ways the simplest, is WordPress. Originally designed purely as a blogging system, WordPress has become a full-blown CMS or content management system, and it has an architecture that allows for virtually unlimited extension. Importantly, if you don’t want to allow the world to see what you or your colleagues are doing – at least until it’s ready for prime time – there are several ways you can limit access to the site. (The one I prefer for non-sensitive sites is to use the option in the Settings tab to exclude search engine crawlers, but otherwise allow non-password access. But you can also limit access to just those with passwords.)
Here’s an example of a non-password-protected planning site, for our 2009 green ventures conference, Jumpstarting the New Green Economy: http://sustainablebusinessincubator.com/conference/. You won’t find this even if you Google “sustainable business incubator conference,” so you need someone to give you the link in order to find it (and it may well now begin to show up because it’s referenced here, and this is not an excluded site).
Even as an individual you can benefit from this kind of site, if only to manage your personal projects. For a limited time, we will provide our clients with these sorts of sites at no additional cost, in subdirectories off their main site.
Welcome to Acumen Technology Group’s new web portal. We’re currently in the process of moving our content from another server, so stay tuned for updates. If you want to contact us, email email@example.com.