Last week I attended Drupalcon Chicago 2011. Acton Institute’s website runs the Content Management System called Drupal. It is a highly customizable website publishing tool that powers around 1.7% of the Internet. Drupal scales: you can use it for a personal website, but very large outfits use Drupal including the White House and Grammy.
As you may know, open source software is free. Anyone can download the package and begin using it or view the internal code. Open source also means the software is coded by programmers who are not paid for their work.
How can such a model exist? It exists because customers hire developers to support and implement their websites using the platform. At this point, the “free” software can require a substantial investment of money and staff time to tailor or customize the open source software to an organization’s specific needs. Still, the model promotes learning for aspiring developers because they can dig into the system early on without paying to see if it is something they’d like to pursue. If it is something they like they can program, design, or provide consulting using the platform for clients willing to pay for it. If the developer doesn’t want to continue working with the platform they are free to stop without having sacrificed money figuring out they don’t want to work with it.
While attending Drupalcon I didn’t expect to find much related to Acton’s message. However, I was surprised to find a lot of what you might call ethical questions discussed throughout the conference. Web developers attended sessions seeking the right way to approach problems people have building websites. One session included a panel consisting of the Lullabot team speaking openly about what standard Drupal development rates are. All of the sessions at Drupalcon were aimed at empowering developers to do things the right way and to improve the way the web is presented.
There is a healthy competitive market in the Drupal community. Many vendors promoted their web hosting and development services on the exhibit floor. The biggest sponsors had session rooms named after them and their logos were posted everywhere around the conference. Because Drupal is open source, there are few barriers for new development shops to use it which increases competition. Seasoned firms compete for the business of high profile clients that receive millions of web visits a month.
There is a competitive ecosystem in not only the Drupal community, but in the open source web development community overall. By making the tools used to create the web free, more technical people are created who can fulfill the needs of organizations willing to pay for services. And a lot of thriving for-profit businesses are formed within this ecosystem.
If you’re interested in the Drupalcon keynotes they are available online.
Now is a great time to check out Acton’s first documentary, The Call of the Entrepreneur.
The website has been completely redesigned to be more user friendly and attractive. You will find links to social media for Call of the Entrepreneur as well as options to share the documentary with your friends at the bottom of the site. We’ve also added the high definition trailer to the site. The only trailer available on the previous website was very low quality and did not do justice to the film.
The site uses the latest version of the Drupal Content Management System (CMS) that was released in January. Drupal runs some of the biggest sites in the world; examples of its power can be found on their official website. Even The White House itself is using Drupal. One of the major advantages of Drupal 7 (the latest release) is greater search engine exposure due to its advanced content classification. This means Call of the Entrepreneur will be more visible to everyone looking for inspirational entrepreneurship stories.
Acton Media is also hard at work on their new poverty initiative. While you’re waiting for more, giving Call of the Entrepreneur a second (or first) look is a great way to satisfy your appetite for great stories. Click here to visit the new site. If you’d like to give us feedback you can go to the Call of the Entrepreneur contact page or leave a comment here.
On Feb. 17, Rev. Robert Sirico was a guest on EWTN’s World Over program hosted by Raymond Arroyo. Rev. Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, discussed the morality of federal budget making, social networking and the Catholic Church, and Live Acton vs. Planned Parenthood.
Rev. Sirico’s two segments begin at the 10:30 and 37:16 marks.
Arroyo is also joined by guests Rep. Chris Smith and Dr. Andrew Abela.
After hearing about an established Christian publisher recently launching an official blog for their products, I did some thinking about the relationship between the traditional publication outlets and social media.
I’m sure that traditional publishers have a relatively large budget for print advertising, but it seems that they are very slow to hire professionals to do serious social media work, blogging, and online advertising. This seems true at least in the academic markets and relative to their print marketing outreach. And the blogs that publishers do have are usually not very good, although there are exceptions.
All this is true even though there are a number of reasons why digital advertising is better than traditional print. With digital advertising and outreach you can get real numbers in terms of reactions in real-time, seeing almost immediately what is effective and what isn’t. But you are also engaging people in a place where they are much more likely to buy and doing so is far easier.
If someone sees an ad in a magazine, they have to either stop what they are doing and go to a computer or pick up the phone, or remember to do so later after they’re done reading the magazine. When you reach someone on a website, Twitter feed, or a blog, they already poised to buy in that they are always one click away from Amazon, where they already have an account set up, and so on.
And despite many of the rumors of the death of blogging, I liken the relationship of blogging to social media to the relationship of journalism to blogging. Without blogs and the kinds of content generated on blogs, there’s far less to drive social media, just as without journalistic content there’s far less to drive blogging. So I don’t see blogging going away any time soon, but the turnover rate of blogs will continue to be high because of the variety of competitive voices and sources for news, commentary, and promotion. The kinds of transition over at First Things in recent years, which has really become a full-service complement to the print publication, seems to me to be a good model for established publications looking to broaden their digital footprint.
So even though it may seem odd that an established publisher is just now forming an institutional blog, there are some good reasons why starting a blog now is a good idea.
To keep abreast of some of the things going on with Christians and new media, keep an eye on the Christian Web Conference.
Did you know that the NIV Stewardship Study Bible is available for Kindle, iPad and everywhere your smart phone goes? It’s true. Download this Bible for your Kindle emulator on your Mac, PC, smart phone, or directly to your eBook reader, and thousands of stewardship resources will be available at your fingertips. Or you can go to Apple’s bookstore and download the NIV Stewardship Study Bible for your viewing on your iDevice.
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These are just a few ways the Stewardship Council is providing the most helpful Biblical stewardship resources for the global and mobile Church.