By John Crockford
Though there seems to be a sufficient pool of tech people working and living in this area, I’ve recently learned that a handful of local progressive organizations have had some difficulty finding volunteers to help maintain their respective Web sites and provide help with other information technology (IT) matters.
Although some organizations have the ability to pay for tech services (for anything from Web site maintenance to servicing onsite computer networks), those without the funds to pay have had to rely on companies that were willing to provide some of their tech needs for free—though I suspect these services were often limited in one form or another. Ideally, an organization would have available to it—either on staff or as a volunteer—someone who would be able to provide the tech help it needed.
Often, the tech help that an organization needs is not particularly complex or requiring a vast set of skills—just help with an issue (like a software problem) or a function of the organization (like maintenance of its Web site).
Though it may be a bit simplistic, sometimes just having a bit of conversation can lead to getting the help that’s needed. For example, in a conversation among friends over a cup of coffee, if one were to ask a question about, for instance, how to do something particular using Microsoft software, you would likely find someone in the group who “knows just how to do that.” It’s not always that easy, however, for help with tech matters such as fixing a broken Web site.
Because there seems to be a need in some organizations for help with tech matters that isn’t being fulfilled otherwise, then perhaps just beginning a conversation about technology among the local progressive community can help. The solution, perhaps, is to create a conversation using a widely used and familiar platform—maybe an e-mail listserv—through which questions are posed, answers are considered, tried and tested, and the results of which are shared as common knowledge. If a volunteer is needed to perform specific technical functions for an organization, then hopefully one would be found from among the participants or an acquaintance of someone in the group.
If the participants included a sufficient number of members with varying degrees of skill and experience (from none to a ton), then perhaps this “tech collective” would help greatly enhance the work done by progressive groups and individuals in the area.
If you have skills in building Web sites (using HTML and CSS) and working with Web site software such as WordPress and you are interested in providing free, volunteer tech services, the author will put you in touch directly with organizations that can use the help. If you are interested in discussing the issues presented here or participating in such a discussion group or “tech collective,” contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Crockford, a self-described “geek with Luddite sympathies,” is an independent Web site designer and consultant. Contact him at email@example.com or follow the Crockford Files (@crockfordfiles) on Twitter (https://twitter.com/crockfordfiles).