Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Social Media for Everybody

Next week I'll be leading a workshop series about using social media and covering topics such as how to use Twitter and Facebook, how to set up a blog or do simple website and how to stream video to create webcasts or share live interviews.

"But wait," you say, "Jamine, you're a yoga teacher. How do you know so much about these other things? Can you teach me?" One of the things about how I teach computer stuff is that it's a lot like how I teach yoga stuff. I really believe that anyone can do yoga. I also know anyone can tweet or use Facebook or learn how to do some of the simple multi-media things that make interacting in the interwebs so fun.

I have computers in my history. My father was a computer programmer back in the days when they filled whole rooms. Fun party favours at the Christmas parties were Snoopy cartoons printed out on that wide printer paper using characters to create the shapes. My grandparents gave me a calculator for my tenth birthday. (Okay it's not quite a computer but totally related.)

I did not study computer programming in school but went in to Film and Communications at McGill in the English Department. I was the only one I knew who had a computer. It was an Atari, hooked up to my TV as the monitor. I called home for files using a modem that had my corded phone that jammed and whined into a big thing on my desk.

After university I went to Kripalu, where I was a spiritual lifestyle trainee, and after 3 months of being on a cleaning crew (beds, toilets, mopping, etc.) I was offered a job where I was to teach yoga teachers how to use their computers. "Seriously? I don't know how to do that." "We'll train you," came the answer. It wasn't my only duty as the administration assistant for the Programs Department, but it was one of them. "How do I make it bold again?" came the questions. "What's a desktop?" "I can't find my file!" I would design little workshops for them and train a few people at a time in our tiny computer room.

In my free time I would check my email on GEnie where I'd get letters from my mom in Ottawa and my grandmother in Huntington Beach. (I still get email from them but it comes in colour and with pictures!) I played Tetris until the blocks fell in my sleep. Those Tetris blocks fell in front of my eyes as I watched more than one big name spiritual teacher do his thing. (Sorry Pir Valyat, I could still see you whirl but there were blocks coming down on your head.)

After Kripalu I moved to Omega where I helped implement their first website. I did not choose the domain name, I'm sorry to say because the first one had a hyphen in it and was hard for people to remember (good old In my lunchtimes during the summer I offered courses for staff in how to "surf the 'net." I bought my first big computer for thousands of bucks and it was supposed to answer my phone and do everything. It was in the back of the trailer I was living in during the summer. I was for a while. You might say I was an "early adopter."

I bought my first laptop computer while I was working at Omega and there was a while where the computer on my lap was worth more than the car I was driving, which I thought was hilarious. (I didn't have the computer on my lap while I was doing the driving, that would be when Chris was driving me to work!)

After Omega I was in South Africa, where I actually tele-commuted back to New York, to complete filling in the summer catalog data into the website. That was expensive because back then, we paid for phone time unlike here, and the connection was slow and it took forever to update the site.

That was 12 years ago. Since then, I've had more computers, offered more training, had the domain, which I let lapse and now sells tea I believe. I've had a cell phone since I moved here back when Telus was Clearnet, and when I got my iPod Touch a few years back I wanted to find a way to get my own data into that little machine and started a company to build apps for that gadget. In fact anyone who's got some text or a photo or sounds can build their own app - it's for anyone!

So when an old yoga student wanted to meet for coffee to talk about computer related stuff and found out more about what I know about these social media he asked if I'd lead a workshop on it. "Are you kidding? I'd love to. This stuff makes my mouth water."

The first series starts next week and goes Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for two weeks. I want people to try things and come back with questions. For this first series we'll be in my living room. If it grows and more people want to learn, maybe we'll find a different spot, but for now it'll be cozy and you're welcome to come!

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