Using ZCom Productively
By Michael Albert at Jun 19, 2008
Some things about ZCom, and using it well, are pretty obvious. You read, view, or listen to items on the site that interest you. You learn something new that way. Or maybe you turn someone lse onto something new that way. Okay, that's very good. we existed able to help with that, and pretty much only that, for years. Now, however,, good as that is, much more is possible.
Okay, you know about it - you can upload photos into an album or albums of interest to you and others, you can keep in touch with friends by instant messenger and chat, you can ask questions and engage in discussions in forums, leave your views in comments, write blogs, upload poems or articles. Indeed, that's all good, and much of it is new and improved, but still much more is possible.
You can enter preferences for books, films, pages in the site, etc.,, all of which will soon become easier and tally much more usefully - and you can comment on or review these, creating a useful database for others. That's very nice. But it is not the heart of the matter, I think.
you can use the calendart and the polls, to trade info and find it. Good. But what more? Well, you can organize. You can act and promote acts.
Come on, you might say, don't get carried away. It is just an online site, after all.
Yes, it is, and it most certainly cannot and should not take the place of face to face communication and organizing. But it can facilitate it, in many ways.
Okay, as an example, consider this. You can create group pages that tie together any number of folks around a particular idea, investigation, or organizing project, for that matter. Yes, but how does one find folks?
In account pages Sustainers and members too can now enter a lot of information about themselves, not just a bio for people to read, but also your job or school, and your area of work. You can also enter your locale.
Suppose everyone who is a member or Sustainer does this - well over 100,000 people.
Then you can easily search - using the menu links for writers, members, or Sustainers under the ZSpace tab in the top menu - to folks by job, interest, or locale.
So, you could search, to give one example, for all public school teachers. Finding them, you could use email at first, and then a group page in ZSpace, to assemble into a working group, perhaps even establishing a basis for a teacher organization. You could certainly exchange information, tools, skills, experiences - but you could also, perhaps, begin to develop program and to work together. The same goes, then, for searching by other job areas or locales and creating groups for cities or regions, as well as areas of work.
People talk about, and get all ecited about, and put time into, what are called social networking sites - like facebook and myspace, etc. Well, as a way to try to meet new peole, people without left politics, and to discuss and consciousness raise, that seems fine to me - if you are into doing it. But to then congregate groups of leftists who can work together in fields of work, or locales, or due to shared comittments and aims - you don't want a site that is commercial, that is full of ads, that seeks invovlement without substance, and so on. So why not see ZCom and ZSpace not only as a place to learn about events and possibilities, but as a means to network and act...as well as educate and become more educated?
That's what we are hoping to facilitiate.
So - don't feel dorky about it, don't hesitate because it is pushy. Push. Push folks to enter information and participate most broadly. And then push folks to congregate, explore, share, and act. That will be quite something to see. So, let's see it.