As I get on with August's column, here is the previous one. I have a sneaking suspicion that more people read it in this form than in the newspaper itself. And yes, I do know that if I added a counter I could find out, but this blog has never been about readership figures. It's my personal catharsis and you are welcome to overhear, however few of you there may be. Here we go then:
For people born after about 1975 virtual existence is almost as important as real life. Three of the main places people choose to interact with friends are Facebook, Bebo and My Space.
Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you. You create a site and allow access only to your friends. Unlike a blog, where anyone can read what you write, you are in control of who can access your profile. It’s a good way to arrange an event. Just post, ‘Who is free on Saturday night?’ to your group of friends and see what happens. I just opened an account and people are poking me, which is a technical term for asking me to be their friend. It’s very popular.
Bebo, as they put it, ‘... is the online community allowing you to share photos and blogs, draw on your own and other member's White Boards and, oh, a ton of other stuff too. A ton. Literally a ton.’ Has a slightly younger identity, as you can tell from their language.
My Space is a place to host a web-page. The home page can feel like one giant advert for the latest music, or videos of people being daft, but you can access free space, create your own profile, blog, rank things and post pictures.
Flickr is one of the most popular places for sharing pictures. Some highly talented photographers use it to show their work. Photobox is an online company to whom you can upload your digital photos and they will print them and post them to you. Almost certainly works out cheaper than printing them at home yourself. Bonusprint, Snapfish, Fotoview and Klick, whilst sounding like a firm of solicitors, all offer the same service, so do compare prices and conditions.
If you want to ‘...explore the concepts and practical issues involved with blogging and online communities, and how you can use them to get your message across for little or no money...’ then visit Tailor Made. This is the Church of England’s communications training web-site. Links to many other good courses.
As we hit high summer you might be frustrated because you have no venue for your youth camp, or want to start planning an autumn Alpha weekend. Try CCI. Their venue-finding service is excellent.
What else might you want out of the summer? Well this is wildly optimistic of me, given that ark-building has taken on a new lease of life in the south west these days, but how about visiting the sites of Handmade Hammocks, Southsea Deckchairs or the quintessentially British Jaques of London for a new croquet, boules or quoits set. Hang on. Aren’t those words all French? I’m also tempted by the latter’s bar football game but Mrs T might be a wee bit anti.
If you are moving to a new part of the country and would like to share accommodation with Christians, Christian Flatshare is worth visiting. In their words, ‘CFS would like to help Christian accommodation seekers to find accommodation by putting them in contact with others...’
I only recently discovered the idea of Godly Play – ‘...a way to encourage children to move into larger dimensions of belief and faith, through wondering questions and open-ended response time.’ Their web-site explains all and is worth checking out.
I mentioned the blog of former CEN contributor and youth work guru Pip Wilson a few months back but he also has a main web-site through which you can book him, see what he’s reading and read his, ahem, pearls of Wilson.
I like blogs which have good writing, simple concepts and, of course, axes to grind. So I dip into the work of the Beer Activist who shares my view that moderate beer usage makes the world a better place.
More professionally relevant (than beer) to the youth work community is Lev’s Blog where Baptist youth worker Pete Lev writes and Onmebus run by Simo, a youth worker in Oxfordshire. Steve Clarke, student pastor at Trinity, Cheltenham also has a nice site with good links. Expect to read scribblings on life, church and culture. Mark Oestreicher of Youth Specialties (USA) blogs at Ysmarko. Mark asks my question of the month, which I know has been concerning many of you recently - are 14 year-old girls actually impressed when boys taunt hippos?
June’s column, and all previous columns, can be found at Mustard Seed Shavings.