I.Love.Resources. I love finding them, I love having them, I love playing with them, I love sharing them. I love taking pieces from several and making a new one. That’s part pf the reason my company is named “Resourceful Futures” Imagine how overwhelming my life became when The Internet came into it. Remember Gopher? I barely remember exactly how to work it, but I do remember how excited I was to be able to find text files that someone else had made available and ftp them to my own computer. Wow! The world was suddenly a smaller place! It was like having a wormhole, or in this case a gopherhole, into someone else’s store of resources. That was before the World Wide Web. Or blogs. Or Youtube. Now there are even more resources. And they’re prettier. And noisier. And I hear they’re working on making them smell nice.
So how is a resource hunter to live in such a world in peace and harmony? Thankfully, there is an answer – RSS, the Resource Sharing Service. Most sources call it Really Simple Syndication, but for me it is a Resource Sharing Service. How else could I find the latest research on civic engagement? Or who is doing what in service learning? Or how a little girl in Scotland is building kitchens in Africa?
You see, a big part of my work is teaching teachers. And most of the time, teachers are very busy teaching. Some of them spend nights, weekends and their children’s birthday parties looking for resources, but lots of them want to have their own life for a few hours a week and depend on people like me to help A) find relevant resources and B) put them in a format that is closer to classroom-ready.
I try to be really picky about it all. I believe in research-based solutions, in data-driven decision-making, in asset-based sustainable development and the power of ideas. I value locally controlled systems, participant involvement and authentic youth leadership. Don’t always find all that in my hometown newspaper. Sometimes, it takes part of an idea from New Zealand, combined with research in Canada, shaped by a lesson learned from a blog in Denmark (maybe even Denmark, Iowa) to come up with a good way to help my local teenagers make a difference in their world. Other times, it just takes sitting down with them and listening to the coolest idea they saw on Youtube that reminded them of lyrics to a song a friend posted on Facebook that inspired them to Reachout to Save Someone (RSS).
In the end, technology is a wonderful tool, but it takes a human touch to make it meaningful. I’m thankful to live in a world where I can have both. And use RSS to find and share the resources I need when they are needed.