Google Tech Camp, through the eyes of NPower Northwest VISTAs
We have emerged from Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California, and want to blog about it! The five days of training and workshops included product demos, lectures, hands-on activities, amazing free food, and evening bike rides. It is impossible to condense all of what we learned into just a few paragraphs, but after the jump are our list of highlights and take-aways. Read more...
We have emerged from Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California, and want to blog about it! The five days of training and workshops included product demos, lectures, hands-on activities, amazing free food, and evening bike rides.
It is impossible to condense all of what we learned into just a few paragraphs, but here's our list of highlights and main take-aways:
- There are a lot of companies investing in community development and nonprofit technology. It seems like there's competition now to see who can provide the best low-cost services to nonprofits from Google, Microsoft, YouTube, LinkedIn, Salesforce, and many more.
- “Free products are like free kittens.” There are always costs associated with them, even if it's not up-front cash. Conversion time, staff training, and maintenance are just a few things to look out for when considering a “free” service.
- A great way to help aide your quest to conquer your Gmail inbox and track where your mail/spam is coming from is to use a plus sign and specific phrases after your email when signing up for new services. For example, when signing up for your new favorite tech e-newsletter, submit your email as firstname.lastname@example.org to help with inbox filters, and if you end up finding this version of your email plastered all over your spam folder, you know who spilled the beans.
- A big theme we noticed throughout the week was the concept of Cloud Computing - accessing data and services located at a server or data center off and away in “the cloud.” The concept is not specific to any particular company, and it was interesting to see how each of them provided services utilizing the cloud (Salesforce as a cloud-based database, Google Docs as cloud-based document sharing, Gmail as cloud-based email). The benefit of using these services is access from nearly anywhere (a web browser on a computer, a tablet device, or a smartphone) and high quality back-up and redundancy from an enterprise IT server. What’s most exciting to us is how accessible all of these services are for nonprofits.
- Change hurts. But just like love, it is a critical part of our lives. We read and learned strategies pulled from the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath. A key part of any change is finding a way to make our rational mind (the Rider), our emotional side (the Elephant) and our environment (the Path) work together to make even impossible changes the new normal. For more reflection on this book, look for a book review coming next week.
- Abby Nafziger, Elissa Thomas, and Stephen Eggers