Tag Archives: media

iPresence: Artistry, Artifact, Artifice

By Deborah Vrabel

In the last post for Rich iPresence, I talked about similarities between iPresence and what we might call “real human presence”–when we or our organizations are with the audience both physically and mentally, both giving and commanding attention.

Still, we need to stay aware that our iPresence is a virtual human presence existing in a virtual reality. It doesn’t happen the same way life happens. We create it out of the stuff of who we are and what we do. It is a combination of artistry, artifact, and artifice.

Artifice. When I talk about “artifice,” I don’t mean setting out to deceive other people by creating content that is patently false, as in “catfishing” on Facebook or creating deceptive pop-up windows. By artifice, I mean purposefully playing the games that sustain the illusion of the Web as more than a technology. Most of us accept the premise of making believe that this virtual commons is really a place where real communities gather. Then we promptly forget and never accept the need to do the work of community or sometimes even observe the rules and courtesies of community.

Rich iPresence means conveying awareness that we are placing our lives, our ideas, our opinions, our work “someplace” and that doing so matters. It asks: Where does my content belong?

Artifact. While iPresence as “artifice” focuses on where we are placing our content–what kind of context we are entering and producing online, “artifact” refers to the trail of individual pieces of textual and visual information we place online. Everything posted online by individuals, whether original or something recycled, becomes a cultural and historical artifact.

Rich iPresence is more than feeding the companies and industries that have the computing power to analyze trends and patterns for commercial purposes and providing free content to the aggregators. It means we think about the message we want these artifacts to convey–both individually and collectively. It means the pieces we place online have unity and coherence. It asks: How long and hard would someone need to work before gaining reasonably accurate picture of me and/or my organization as an online presence? Are we handing them a well-executed scrapbook or a hodgepodge of loosely connected snapshots? Will exploring our organization’s online presence be like a well-organized tour of a historical site or more like picking through old items in a thrift shop hoping to find something unique or valuable?

Artistry. While artifacts carry knowledge and convey history, “artistry” provides original ideas and a glimpse of soul.

Rich iPresence asserts that the “content” we produce through human thought and inquiry must be more valuable than the widgets and images and design elements we use to frame it. It means thinking about not only clearing a path for people to follow but also making meaning. It asks: Does my digital opus illuminate the purpose and meaning of my experiences, passions, contributions, and qualities? Are we populating web pages or living up to the vision of a global village?

What is Rich iPresence?

By Deborah Vrabel for Rich iPresence

The Web offers today’s writers, scholars, experts, and storytellers an unprecedented opportunity to be “present” as society’s problems are discussed and new ideas, trends, or models emerge and take shape. Those who can make their views stand out in this democratic but kaleidoscopic marketplace of ideas have a distinct advantage.

Think Pond will interrogate, examine, and critique this social media “revolution” from different angles and present the alternative–Rich iPresence.

I’ll share some observations about the theories and issues surrounding this concept of iPresence. I’ll comment on books and articles that raise new questions or shed light on our dialogue. I’ll try to engage Think Pond members and others in conversations. To be coherent, I’ll develop a position paper examining those issues that builds on my 1993 Master’s project, which explored the potential impact of the brand new Web on the control and ownership of mass media.

Stemming from my own quest to integrate my “digital opus” and help some fledgling groups with theirs, I’ll provide some practical tools and ideas–and finally a white paper proposing integrated strateges–for using websites, choosing suitable social media avenues, and using other online media to create a coherent, meaningful, and useful online presence.

Explore the iPresence Topic

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The Value of Program Documentation

By Deborah Vrabel

Documentation is a coherent record of your organization’s most important, meaningful activities, methods, and outcomes. It shows—through text, images, recordings, and artifacts—that a program or project is active, exciting, and fruitful.

It also is an effective but underutilized strategy for improving program sustainability.

Well-planned and executed documentation offers five benefits that all lead to stronger, more sustainable programs:

  1. Increases visibility
  2. Builds relationships
  3. Strengthens implementation
  4. Enriches evaluation
  5. Expands funding opportunities

Effective documentation helps you tell a coherent story that highlights the most important activities and features of a project or program. Building this story does not have to be difficult, expensive, or time-consuming if you:

  • Use your imagination.
  • Develop and implement a simple, realistic documentation plan.
  • Follow and regularly revisit the plan.
  • Promote awareness, involvement, and resourcefulness.