Several of you have asked me to share the presentation ("The Transformative Power of Blogging for School Design Teams") that I gave this weekend at the CEFPI Southern Region Conference. Thank you. Truly flattered. Truly.
And in time I can't wait to see a presentation or article that YOU write about a similar topic, potentially something you use to pitch to your team or school design team and the community. (hint, hint; nudge, nudge!)
Note: I know I can add it as a link, but frankly it'll take an insane amount of time to download on your end (with more than 170 slides with many of them rich photo images), and the presentation isn't really the PPt slides themselves. They are just prompts for me and some visual 'keep ya awake' bursts for the audience. In fact, the only handouts I offered was a contact sheet for me/my company, and the 3 articles about blogging (but only the first page with the web address link), rather than printing out the slides, which always strikes me as odd. Hey, if you're gonna be a presenter, present. Don't just read the slides that the audience has in their lap. A very non-teacher moment...and frankly, a deal killer in terms of keeping an audience's attention.
While I'm incredibly flattered to be asked to share it, as well as to have had as many people in the audience and stay around later to talk to me, I think it might be better to do a 'greatest hits' summary version instead. That way you can skim it, take what you like, and re-mash it for your own purposes. Please feel free to contact me and we can get it on a CD for you, if you'd like. Or just talk and you can create a better version for your own firm, organization, or design team.
To that end, here are the key idea slides (and BTW, any images you want to find, let me know; most came from Flickr and I'll send you the specific links to each so you can contact the photographer or simply check out their portfolio):
Opening slide; a little mind-candy for the audience as they came in before the formal presentation began. Sort of a teaser. Trying to flesh out the possible questions, biases, fears, focus points early on...so that we could quickly move towards some sort of 'comfort' with blogging as a group.
2nd slide: After a 30-minute (of the allowed 90-minutes each session had) talk with the audience -- more important to learn about them then to run through the slides, in my opinion -- this slide popped up. I told them that I had 2 presentations. One that lasted a single minute; the other that would last 45 minutes. The slide to the right is the 1-minute version. Sort of the big-picture Cliffs Notes version. Granted, you still need details...but this is the big take-away for the day.
3rd slide: This is the customary FoxNews-Scare-Tactic slide. If you don't throw a "threat" in, you won't get anyone to change. And in times of change, you get 3 consecutive levels of reactions: 1) Disbelief or Complete Lack of Understanding (the can't-see-the-forest-through-the-trees complex), 2) Anger, Utter Shock, And Blatant Refusal to Acknowlede the Possibility (the hey-Coprenicus-is-a-heretic reaction), followed finally by 3) Common Sense (the of-course-I-already-knew-that-roll-of-the-eyes reaction). This slide looks at reactions 1 & 2 in particular. Plus, it makes a great reference to the BusinessWeek article about blogging taking over business communications back in May of '05 (which means that they were already 'behind the times' then...and hardly anyone in the business, esp. architecture firms, world is even thinking about blogging even now. Until they get passed up in a Wild-E.-Coyote-losing-sight-of-Roadrunner sort of way one day soon.)
Slide 4: A simple but provocative image. Fence. School in the background. Classic 'factory, cells-n-bells, assembly-line' school. Clearly in need of renovation. Probably like many schools in America, has gone long past its heyday. And probably no longer relevant in terms of space needs and technology. But perhaps a good 'save' for historical value, esp. if you retain those wonderfully large windows and the commitment to daylighting. I've worked in schools around the US. Some in an urban environment where security layers would make the Pentagon envious, places where kids never breathe fresh air once they are in the building, even if the most dangerous part of the day will be 'after' they leave. Some have been uber-elite prep schools where the aesthetic bells-n-whistles are of the Dead Poets Society variety. And several in between with lots of straight, concrete hallways. But no matter what end of the social/economic spectrum the school may serve, ultimately the vast majority of school facilities designed today STILL resemble the industrial revolution model that worked very well for those who respected Frederick Taylor's industrial engineering mindset and wanted our nation's kids to do their best Pavlov's Dog response when the whistle sounded. I put this slide in less as a provocation (in the spirit I just wrote), but more as a reminder that blogging in this context is only as important as our ability to focus on designing innovative learning environments and moving towards the 'future of learning.'
Slide 5: 5 quick statements that relate to all those considering joining the blogosphere. Ultimately it comes down to one magic silver bullet, after all the over-analysis you might do: JOIN. If you don't join, you won't understand. And once you join, it means really joining, not just using it as a marketing element or a 'let's play it safely and water it down' posting approach. No, joining means joining...and remembering that people only come back if you give them something authentic and passionate to interact with. Because in the blogosphere, boredom is worse than making a mistake! By the way, I love the photo of the hand 'raining'. Just lovely!
Slide 6: The photo says it all. All jokes aside, the 'future of learning' is ANYTIME, ANYPLACE, and whether your a teacher or a student...or a member of a school design team...you better begin to re-think the entire premise of 'place' when it comes to where we learn. The other words in the center band of the slide were used as a slow build-up for different types of blogs, i.e. a blog based on a communities needs (bond planning or school facility analysis), or a blog focused on wishes alone (ideal campus layout, a truly innovative 'learning studio', etc.). The goal was to help the audience think through the premise that a blog can have a specific purpose for a short period of time to 'capture' the community's ideas/wishes/needs/frustrations/loves, or it can involve all of the above. And perhaps it evolves purpose-wise over time.
Slide 7: This slide follows up on the 'how to help the community' element from the previous slide, and begins to re-focus the attention inside the architecture firm itself (or construction firm, or whatever 'partner' works with the district/community/school). Each of these are just 'teasers' as to how blogging can have a positive impact on the firm/organization, whether it be used to engage colleagues or to interact with the larger world or to up the ante with your clients. All are just starter sets. Hopefully over time when this is more the norm having blogs in arch firms, then we'll begin to see some real innovation. I hope...
Note: quotation is from the aforementioned Business Week cover story from slide 3. Well worth the read. Go to the link. It's dated, but still as relevant as ever. And check out the 4.3.06 Newsweek cover story as well. About the entire range of social networking tools and companies that are getting very, very rich off of them...and the way communication and society-as-a-whole is changing because of the rapidly increasing usage rates. Remember, MySpace.com gets 2x the traffic of Google. Fight it all you want; it's coming!
Slide 9: Ultimately, it comes down to asking, "Why is blogging such a POWERFUL tool for school design teams?" Without that, there is only a superficial reason to add this tool to your repetoire, and frankly no reason to do all this blog-talk or conference presenting. So, it comes down to a couple of basic principles: a) it's cheap, b) it's a 2-way talk tool, c) it allows visitors to subscribe and get constant updates, d) its a viral experience, and e) the power of "Google Juice" is NOT to be overlooked...and frankly makes regular websites in search engines seem juvenile.
Slide 10: This one is for the Op's guys, the business-minded folk, the lawyers, and the left-brained question askers. You gotta have a strategy. Maybe it's simple. Find a topic you are passionate about and will focus upon from the beginning. Maybe it's allowing a single editor make final publishing decisions. Maybe it's picking a topic slightly tangential to your firm's expertise and allowing yourself to not 'sell' your professional experience. Mabye it's simply choosing to "blog smart", finding the collective cultural norms that you will blog from, rather than challenging the status quo. But one way or another, figure out what your organization's "blog smart" themes are, do NOT use a blog to market (no matter how tempted the PR/Marketing folks might be to use it as a ramped up website or e-newsletter), and publish posts often (on overdrive) with passion (do not be 'safe' and create a grey-voice) so that in time you can be recognized as authentic and invested. This leads to trust. And without trust based on passion and a real investment in topics and time, it won't matter. Nobody will even bother to tune in. And boredom is worse than controversey...every time!
Slide 11: And in lieu of having business cards printed yet, made this final slide so that audience members could get in touch to get additional resoources, a copy of the presentation, or simply get in touch and share with everyone at DesignShare what they've done in the realm of adding the blogging tool to their school design team's arsenal. Feel free to use it yourself. Love to hear what you do in terms of practical day-to-day, or in terms of innovation. Ultimately, my presentation isn't the end-all-be-all. It's just a match to light. The rest is up to you. And in time I am very much looking to forward to learning from 10 or 100 or 1000 school design teams that are integrating blogging into their conversations and collaborations.
Drop me a line at "think:lab" or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Love to hear how your school design team enters the blogosphere...and what projects evolve out of it!