Plancast and authentic invitations

photo credit, Anna Malie Design, via Flickr

Okay, so it’s turning into “technology two weeks”–there are just too many exciting tools to fit into one week’s posts, so I’ve got a few more to throw out for this week. Today’s relates to an application with which I really wasn’t familiar until a few months ago, when I read about it on Beth’s Blog. Playing around with it got me thinking about how we don’t usually ‘invite’ people to ‘participate’ (both words intentionally in quotes) in our work until we’ve really already decided what it’s going to look like and what the parameters for involvement will be, and about how social media hasn’t really changed that yet, but certainly could, and about how a tool like this might help. I’d love to know what you think.

Essentially, Plancast works a bit like Facebook or Twitter (except you use it primarily just for things that you’re working on and events that you’re planning to attend). You subscribe to other users’ plans, and they can subscribe to yours, and then you can interface with each other as those plans develop. It interfaces with Facebook and Twitter, which is nice, but it doesn’t penetrate nearly as well as those applications; only 5 of the people I follow on Twitter were on Plancast the last time I checked. To add a plan, you enter what you’re working on, when, and where. To me, that’s where the invitation piece comes in.

Too often, whether we’re online or offline, we tend to think that just broadcasting what we’re doing amounts to organizing–now people know what fabulous things we’re up to, and so naturally they’ll want to get on board, right?

Um, do you respond well to that kind of non-invitation?

The best organizing, of course, happens when participants feel real ownership, have a chance to influence where this ‘bus’ they’re supposed to ‘get on’ is going to actually go, and know that they are valued for more than just their +1 added to your turnout totals.

And that’s what kind of intrigues me about Plancast (and Google Wave)–the idea that we use it not to share what we’re already doing, with the expecation that people are going to be immediately psyched about that, but instead to share our plans and hopes and ideas, to invite some authentic conversation about how we might work together, even if that means that our plans end up changing in the process.

To be sure, there is broadcasting going on in Plancast, too, but I have also seen considerable give-and-take, like someone posting that she’s been invited to give a workshop at an upcoming conference, and asking for suggestions about what should be included, and someone else asking for fundraising suggestions when a needed program faced possible elimination.

If social media can deepen our connections to others so that we remember to be more wedded to them than to our prior vision of how this whole thing was supposed to work/look/run, that will be key to its potential to truly invigorate our organizing. Real invitations, that give people a chance to put their stamp on the work…those are the kind people love to accept.

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