Why BarCampBank?

One of the interesting things about coming to an event like BarCampBankSeattle is trying to explain it to people who have no framework with which to contextualize it.

What’s a BarCamp? Why a BarCamp for banking? Why not just have a regular conference? What are you doing down there in Seattle? Why on Earth would a grown man go to Banking Camp?

It’s only now struck me that with new tools emerging to allow for greater online collaboration, whether you’re talking about BaseCamp, Facebook, Del.icio.us, LinkedIn or Second Life, the needs for in-person collaboration is changing. For people who are not using these new tools, nothing has changed and therefore they don’t need new ways of interfacing with their peers. But for those of us who have embraced these new tools and found that they have significantly improved their ways of collaborating and working together, we want our real world events to change too.

Along comes BarCampBankSeattle. I wouldn’t be interested if a traditional conference was organized this way because you’d be in a room full of people who want content served to them, just like people who are used to traditional web experiences (the irony of a term like “traditional web experience” is not lost on me) want content served up to them. They aren’t used to co-creating and collaborating.

So the idea of BarCampBank – that the right people are here and the right things are being discussed – really works because the people who have opted in to this process are all on the same wavelength when it comes to collaborating and working together. The guys at Trabian are leaders in this space, because their employees live in different cities and still work together through tools like AIM, Twitter, blogs, Facebook, BaseCamp and so on. So a loose, informal heavily collaborative event like BarCampBank makes perfect sense to the people who are here because we want new models for in-person meetings that fit into our new working relationships.

The penny dropped and it’s amazing to be here.

I’ll format my thoughts properly and post some content this week – I promise.

Two articles in the new issue of The Credit Union Journal.

I was interviewed for an article in the new issue of The Credit Union Journal about ChangeEverything.ca and why Vancity created it.

Two articles by Technology Correspondent Kevin Jepson were posted today, and both require a subscription to the magazine, or at least a temp two week online trial subscription (which I signed up for) to read. The first article, CU Challenges Community To ‘Change Everything’ descibes ChangeEverything.ca in context against other CU social media ventures.

Vancity certainly isn’t the first credit union to tap into the flow of social media on the Web. Credit Union Journal recently reported how other credit unions are trying to reach out to the online market by hosting sites at MySpace.com, talking to members and colleagues on blogs or spreading the recorded financial word through podcasts.

But Vancity stands apart from the podcasting, blogging, MySpacing credit unions in a number of ways-in fact, “Vancity is the best example of a credit union building a social network,” according to Trey Reeme, one of the creators of the credit union blog called Open Source CU and executive vice president at Trabian Technology, a business application and development company in Plano, Texas.

Thanks to Trey as always for his kind words.

The other article, Vancity Creates A ‘Thriving E-Community’, describes ChangeEverything.ca and its history including the two events that helped ChangeEverything reach its tipping point: Got Hats? when over 4,000 items of clothing and blankets made their way to local shelters within 48 hours during a Vancouver winter cold-snap last November, and EnviroWoman’s amazing New Year’s resolution to use no plastics in 2007.

Credit unions are reinventing the way they use the web with “social media”: online technologies such as podcasts, blogs, vlogs, wikis and message boards where users share opinions-and advertise.

Change Everything, Vancity CU’s social networking website, encourages members and non-members alike to change something in their lives, or even just to talk about changing something.

The site has produced a “thriving community” of more than 1,000 registered users who offer up some “inspiring” social and environmental changes, explained William Azaroff, interactive marketing and channel manager at Vancity CU.

Pleased that the credit unions are getting this kind of information so more can start harnessing the power of the social web to engage their communities.