Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Communications and social networking - and jam

Three Skype video calls today – one to Hare Lane, one to North Carolina and one to Georgia. Neta (my colleague Churchwarden) and I have stopped driving to meet each other for our regular updates and meet via Skype instead. It saves time and a round trip of about 9 miles. But not only is it greener, it is very effective. It’s not quite like a face-to-face meeting but we are able to see the body language. I also discovered a new web site (www.twiddla.com) that provides a whiteboard for use on conference calls. Anyone connected can draw on it. I haven’t tried it yet but it sounds fun.

The two calls to the US allowed me to meet Joe, our new Youth Worker’s husband, and to discuss the process they have to go through to get their visas. We were able to debate the relative bureaucracies of our two countries. Both have introduced new rules recently which will result in or new team member crossing the Atlantic three times.

All this positive use of technology (OK, I’m a technophile) contrasts with Archbishop Vincent Nichols’ condemnation of social networking. My rather limited experience of youngsters and these sites is that they use them to continue communications and relationships that they have made in person, not as a substitute for personal links. The comments on The Times web article are mainly anti – although I guess people who comment on a web site are not a cross section of society. I think that these communications tools, used sensibly, are a big benefit to society and to blame them or suggest banning them is no help. As some of the comments say, the problems lie elsewhere and some positive suggestions would be a help.

In contrast to this, Brenda has spent the day making jam: we picked 4½ kilos of gooseberries and 2 kilos of blackcurrants yesterday and there’s more in the garden.

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