People want to stay connected, or at least people say they want to stay connected. This often happens after a live event or conference, like a conference or a high school reunion (I’ve never been to one of my own, and wouldn’t really want to go to one of my wife’s). I suppose people from college reunions probably would use Facebook, but that’s (in my opinion) only a pretty loose coupling, even if it’s valuated at billions of dollars.
For a group of people that wants to stay connected by regularly communicating, there are three great (and free + friendly to non-techies) ways to do that over the internet.
WordPress is ideal for a team blog and/or building an web-editable website with an adjacent weblog. The team blog would keep a running log of regular communications between the group members, with most recent entries at the top. WordPress.com is the free version with hosting all taken care of. WordPress.org is the free version that requires software being installed on a hosting service. Alternatively, a group can do a similar thing with a team blog hosted on the free Blogger.com
Wiki is ideal for sharing up-to-date information between a group of people. Communicating in a wiki is more of a snapshot approach, with content that could be posted on several different web pages. During a conference call this week, I stumbled onto a great metaphor when trying to explain a wiki to a non-techie: a wiki is like a big virtual whiteboard, and people from different places can update it. Another metaphor I think would work is an online encyclopedia or reference guide, especially with Wikipedia‘s popularity. The wiki app I have used are wetpaint.com and pbwiki.com. 2 other ones that look good (and free) are: wikispaces and
Google Group is ideal for on-going discussions between a group of people with discussion board, easy-to-edit pages and sharing files. The board can be used for messages online and/or via email (like a Listserv) — some people like discussions that are threaded. What I like about a Google Group is that new posts are (optionally) delivered to my email inbox, and I don’t have to go to a website (be it a blog or wiki) to view new communications. Yahoo Group works in a similar way.
Each brand of these web apps have different combinations of functions, how multiple contributors/ authors are invited, whether content is public or private, usability, and look & feel. This post is here to help make a quick overview of a blog, a wiki, and a discussion group, so that a small group of people can discern together what to use for staying connected.