Letters> emails> facebook>…?

February 12, 2009

I have just picked up the book causewired from the library, which although not an academic book, looks very interesting.  Flicking through it I was struck by how rapidly the field of charity/ fundraising/ social causes is changing.  The internet, and in particular web 2.0 applications, is having an immense impact on the way in which we “Get involved” and “Change the World”.  My own experience reflects this.

In 1996, when I was 21 and looking to use my nursing training overseas I sat down and wrote a pile of letters to various charities, missions and NGOs.  Although I was aware of the Internet I was not a regular user, did not have an email address and would not have known how to find the email addresses of organisations even if I did – or they had them!  So I typed my letters on a word processor, printed them and posted them.  I recieved a lot of replies, all letters with glossy (and not-so-glossy) brochures, and sifted through them to find which ones interested me.  
If I had wanted to do the same thing 5 years later, in 2001  I would have spent an afternoon online, searching websites and emailing those organisations that caught my eye.  In fact I did.  Searching for organisations to work with for my Master’s research took days of online searches and emailing.
Today, in 2009, it would be different again.  In addition to surfing organisational websites I could join any number of Facebook cause groups, surf the blogs (and comment or email with questions!) of those already volunteering, and sign up to any number of volunteer recruitment sites to find the latest opportunities anywhere on the globe. I don’t have to ask for “further information”, it’s already there.  I could even sign up online.
When I wrote a research pre-proposal for my current (PhD) research in 2007, the network I am working with had a static website, yahoo forums and a conference.  Over the past year it has added Facebook groups, and the website has a new semi-interactive features and an increased number of videos. I also know from my first interviews that there are plans afoot to utilise social networking applications further.
This all makes me wonder where things will be at when I finish my PhD in 2-3 years.  On the positive side, I at least know my topic is current, and will be of interest and relevance to many.  On the other hand I wonder if it will already be dated.  In the time it takes to research and write, how far will things move on?   It will certainly be interesting to see!

2 Responses to “Letters> emails> facebook>…?”

  1. Clarissa Says:

    Ahh.. The pros and cons of the advances in technology 🙂

    Many years ago when I was researching for my Bachelor’s thesis, I had to email researchers and request for a copy of their publications. But these days, almost any publication can be obtained online. And because of these, my Advisor thinks there is no reason why I have not read up on certain papers.

    The thing is, how many papers can I read in a day?!


  2. Sharon Says:

    I know what you mean Clarissa. I could just as easily have written a post about the changes in information access (hmmm maybe I will!). I did a nursing degree 14 years ago, and we were basically limited to the information held at the library (books, and hard copy journals). Now I can access just about any journal article I need with just a few clicks. Which just means I now have a loooong list of articles I *should* read….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: