Friday, February 19, 2010

Immersed in Social Networking...

Last Sunday I did that presentation on Social Networking with my parents in the Detroit area, but I'm still immersed in Social Networking because I'm working on a webinar on the subject for our district... and I'm procrastinating on sermon writing, of course. What better time to blog?

MySpace

Having heard an NPR report and read a New York Times article (see below) which suggest that while Facebook is gaining popularity overall, MySpace is still more popular with certain minority groups, I wonder if UU churches might be further perpetuating our problem of addressing primarily white culture by being on Facebook and not MySpace.  I, and my church, have Facebook accounts and not MySpace ones.  Looking for UU churches on MySpace, I encountered only a couple.  Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church is one. 

So I decided the other day to try to create a MySpace account for the church.  My idea was to see if I could, like I did with the Ning page I set up a while ago, use it mostly as part of a loop of web presences for the church, and bring in a Twitter widget, a Facebook widget, an RSS feed for my blog, and the church's Google Calendar.

The answer was that I found MySpace difficult, frustrating, and deleted the account only an hour after setting it up.  I was frustrated from the very beginning when it demanded my sex and my birthdate (and wouldn't accept a date 150+ years old, which the church is).  What sex is my church?  I really didn't want to answer that.  But I went with female, because I am, basically.  The long name of the church also presented problems, and had to be divided up into a first name and a last name.  There didn't seem to be a way to tell MySpace that I was an organization, not a person.  (And by the way, I find it very annoying when people set up Facebook accounts for their organizations by treating their organization as a person, rather than setting up a Facebook fan page.  I don't want to be a "friend" of the organization, letting it have all the access a friend gets.)

But the problems got deeper than just the signing up.  I was able to change the look of my page quickly, but it wanted me to do blogging on the site itself, rather than bring in an RSS feed, and it wasn't very obvious if it was possible to bring in widgets like that.  I couldn't figure out how to delete all the things I didn't want.  A quick look at those other UU churches I found on MySpace showed me that none were doing the things with their MySpace page that I was interested in doing. Perhaps they can't be done.  At any rate, I'm not particularly looking to have one more social networking platform that I have to maintain.  The beauty of the Twitter account, for example, is that I have it pulling in everything from Facebook, so I don't have to post to it directly.  I would be happy to have a MySpace account, if I could get it to do the same.  Perhaps that is possible, but since it was neither obvious or intuitive, for now I'm still not on MySpace.  If any readers out there have familiarity with MySpace and are advocates for having a presence there, let me know.  I'd be interested in hearing more.

The articles I mention above can be found at:

Facebook, MySpace Divide Along Social Lines,” NPR, July 2009.
Does Social Networking Breed Social Division” by Riva Richmond, New York Times, July 2009.

Calendaring

I've been using Google Calendar as our church's calendar.  We print it out and post it at church, where people can add items to it and then they get added back in electronically by our newsletter editors.  The Google calendar appears on our website, and I've also got it in a box on our Facebook page.  But I'm frustrated with its limitations.  For example, when trying to print it out for the worship committee, which has a separate Google calendar, I can't print out more than a week at a time in the outline list view.  Printing out the whole month grid view doesn't make sense, because we're trying to look at the Sunday detail.

What I would like is an on-line calendar that:
  1. Can be brought into a page on our church website and set it to look like a grid calendar (and other views, if desired).  (Google can do.)
  2. Can have multiple people adding to it.  (Google can do.)
  3. Sync with my Outlook.  (Google can do.)
  4. Print in multiple formats.  (Google is limited.)
  5. Has an RSS feed for it (Google cannot do, I believe) so that I can have a box on the front page of our website which is feeding in upcoming events, and people can subscribe to the RSS feed.
  6. Can be added to the church Facebook page.  (Google can do, but it's in a box that probably no one looks at.)
  7. Can send out event notifications to people if desired by e-mail.  (And it would be awesome if this could also automatically do a Facebook event, but that's probably impossible for anything outside of Facebook to automatically create.)  (Google can do.)
  8. Interacts with Twitter in some way.
The Facebook page has a calendar that might do some of these things, but I think it's pretty limited in it's ability to do anything outside of Facebook.  The Ning page has a calendar with features I haven't explored.  Anybody out there got a great calendaring option for their church? 

No comments: