25 Sep 2012

Anyone out there? Help please!

As readers probably know, I am constantly trying to find new and better ways to communicate "aguanomics" to people. According to the poll that's now running on the sidebar, 72% of the 18 people who voted (a biased group) prefer to learn about aguanomics via this blog. Others like my book, academic papers and the webinars.

Well, the webinars are NOT going so well. I waited 10 min for someone to show up today, to ask questions about privatization and/or outsourcing, but nobody did, so I quit. The same thing happened last Friday, for the webinar on Chapter 8 of the book, but I did that one because I had prepared material to present.

This is not sustainable for me, since -- as much as I like to talk -- I like to talk to PEOPLE. In other words, I am not interested in talking when nobody is interested in listening.

I know that it's hard to get people to watch a webinar in front of their computer at a particular time and day, but I rationalized that they would watch archived webinars [here and here].


Views of recorded webinars are NOT on a good trend
So,  I've got a few thoughts:
  1. Please tell me if I can improve some aspect of the webinars (timing, technology provider, theme, topic, etc). Should I make them shorter? Should I have more guests? Help!
  2. I will finish chapters 9-12 of the book, since I want to review the materials for TEoA 2.0. Please DO show up if you are interested in the environment, climate change, human rights or conflict over water (the topics of those four chapters).
  3. I'll TRY to do a few more "discussions" on Tuesdays. I'll be talking to Alex Trembath next week about government's role in innovation. I hope to get a few more guests on.
Bottom Line: I am trying to find the right ways to communicate with you and the world on these ideas. I know that I can just blog my ideas and opinions, but I want to have more interaction, so that I can learn more from you, get new perspectives and create a larger group of people actively debating these ideas.


jimloring said...

David -

I enjoyed your book End of Abundance and had the chance to participate in one of the on-line talks. Setting aside technical glitches I think what you have to say is interesting and (I think) I understand what you're trying to do; I can appreciate the entrepreneurial / independent theme of your online work.

My background is in accounting and I work for one of the agencies at Interior. Like others in my office, I'm trying to migrate towards natural resources management / environmental engineering and I've come to appreciate learning online. I might add that some of your views regarding natural resources (water) managers resonate pretty well, and the more enlighten managers are aware the institutional procedures are often quite counterproductive.

You might want to try affiliating with Wageningen University or anther institution of higher education seeking to expand their course offerings or establish an online presence. You may lose a bit of control over production, but the trade-off may be the opportunity to carve out a niche in online education.

For example, I'm currently enrolled in Coursera's Computing for Data Analysis which, according to Dr. Peng – the instructor - has 40,000 enrolled. Gives the concept of “office hours” a whole new dimension!

Amanda Rice said...

I've attended 3 of your webinars and enjoyed all of them. But since I have read your book, much of the talk was not new to me. This is good and bad...and just like in the classroom, you can't assume everyone's done the reading assignment, so you end up feeling obligated to go over the material. To me the best part has been the conversation/Q&A after the talk. It allows you to elaborate on your ideas, give examples and clear up confusions. What I want to get out of the webinars is a clear understanding of how your ideas look when applied to my specific little community. (Self-centered, I know, but true).
I also like hearing about real examples of how other places are specifically addressing the end of abundance...especially if they are succeeding. If it weren't for the Q&A, I wouldn't have made an effort to attend the sessions live. Which is why it has been frustrating to not be able to at least hook in with audio. Having to type the questions for you to respond to robs the discussion of continuity and flow. I don't really have any useful suggestions on how you might address this technical issue, though.
You seems to be at your best in conversation/discussion, rather than "lecture" mode. (Based on the various radio podcasts and you tube postings as well as the webinars). I encourage more of that - whether the conversation is between you and a colleague or the folks who attend your webinars.
I look forward to more discussions...

CM said...

So, I read all of your posts that come to me via email and always hope to attend your webinars, however, time is a concern. I hope to be able to watch the recorded webinars beginning in November as I am literally out of the office for the better part of September and October. It seems to me that September and October are particularly busy with Conferences in the water world, so perhaps it isn’t that people don’t want to watch these and participate, but perhaps it is a bad time of year? On another note, I love your emails. They are always interesting and provide a new twist on how to interpret all things water. Finally, there is a new platform called Coursea. Perhaps that would be a way to have a captive audience. I registered for a class on sustainability, and, while I have only been reading the book and occasionally attending the webinars, there is a HUGE following on this and it is free just like your webinars and blog.

AV said...

Your appeal for feedback about your webinar today really hit home with me and I'll tell you why. My personal research specialty is water pricing, which is confused (by some) with water privatization. So I really wanted to catch the webinar today. What happened is I was also trying to follow a livecast of the (US) GreenGov 2012 conference throughout the day. And I was off in a writing trance editing an article I wrote. Sad but true. So, I forgot. Perhaps if you offer the webinars less often then they become scarce and therefore coveted? Perhaps there isn't an economic reason as to why...

Anonymous said...

For me, the time slot at 6PM Euro time is really problematic, as I often need to head off from work somewhere else.

Simit Patel said...

I would recommend using Google+ Hangouts for webinars and archiving it all on YouTube. I believe this will be much, much, much better for visibility than for Adobe Connect, and will not compromise on functionality in any meaningful way.

Alexander Jablokov said...


I read you regularly, and own and have read your book. My profession has nothing to do with water or resource management, but I am interested in resource issues in general, so I am outside the core of people you hope to get involved in discussion.

Fond of you though I am, I'm not sure I want more of you. Webinars are time consuming, and tend to have a low information density.

I do listen to podcasts while I exercise or get somewhere. I'm a big fan of Econtalk, and would certainly consider downloading some kind of Aguatalk.

freude bud said...

I think you shouldn't get too frustrated this early on. It's a niche subject, webinars are long, have "low information density" as Jablokov put it, and so even though theoretically I'm interested an hour is a considerable time commitment. It shouldn't surprise you if it takes some time to build an audience, but maybe at the start focusing more on less time intensive efforts would be more fruitful in terms of audience growth.

Good luck with it ... I certainly find it interesting.

David Zetland said...

@all -- thanks for the comments and moral support!

@jimloring -- glad to hear that I am reasonably accurate in my statements. I just looked at Coursea, but they are not affiliated with WUR. I'm teaching here in November (just 3 wks), but there's no plan to record/upload yet.

@Amanda -- good points. I like the interaction as well. I may switch to audio recordings (like water chats), with the hope of making it easier for others to ask questions.

@CM -- archives are super important. I will spend less effort on live timing and try to get a more useful archive. At the moment, this is what I have: http://www.kysq.org/bio.htm

@AV and anon -- archive! :)

@Simit -- Hangouts are limited to 9 people, but they may be good for water chats with a limited number of other participants (see Amanda above)

@Alexander -- I'll see if hangouts convert to MP3. In the meantime, try http://www.aguanomics.com/search/label/water%20chats

@freude -- thanks. In summary, looks like I can do MORE water chats (interactions) and less "webinars" -- unless there's a class to be taught.


Dan Bodine said...

David -- An ol' retired border community judge and former journalist. Enjoy your posts. File many of them away for that "golden day" when I can write the "big one," and thus can use your information as resource. I blog usually weekly at desertmountaintimes.com and (at a being reconstructed) socialminimalism.com,attempting to explain the exploits of "radical capitalism" on the world today, including water. Like you, I'm driven to "expose this thing," but am disheartened to see the 1%ers with no end in sight and the 99%ers "deaf" and with a "I give a rat's ass' attitude. Speaking of which, I've lost most of my hearing now and even with my hearing aids can't hear anything understandable from your videos. I retired 4-5 years ago after I almost put a man in jail because he was desperately trying to get back into his house. I misunderstood his wife to say he had a hammer and icepick at the window and was threatening to kill her. With such mistakes I figured it was time to step down. But it's a screwy world, yes. The Good News is with so many good folks like yourself pulling to turn "this thing" around, it's only a matter of time. I fully believe that. Thanks for your posts and keep writing!

David Zetland said...

@Dan -- Thanks for the kind words and context. I really need a reminder sometimes on how hard it is and how few of us there are. I hit the wall occasionally (today was another event) and lose all hope. It's crazy how people are sleepwalking thorough life (I'm just rewatching The Matrix and there's a line in there: "Most people don't want to wake up; they don't want to know they are slaves to the machine"), and I hate to think that my ideas are not only unwelcomed by those abusing power, but unsought by those who I aim to help. I don't blog just to hear myself talk -- I could have a journal for that -- and so I'm a bit stressed sometimes, trying to understand if I am being useful or if I should just return to baking bread and picking up garbage. (I'll probably do that in the future, anyway :) Yeah, so thanks.

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