Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Talance Earns SDO Certification as Woman-Owned Business

Friday, July 13th, 2012


Talance Earns SDO Certification as Woman-Owned Business

I’m very pleased to announce that our firm Talance, which specializes in developing e-learning systems and websites for its clients, has received certification as a Woman-Owned Business by the Supplier Diversity Office (SDO), an agency within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts helping promote the development of business enterprises and non-profit organizations owned and operated by minorities or women.

Certification is granted after submitting to a meticulous process including an in-depth review of the business and site inspection. The certification process is designed to confirm the business is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women.

What does this mean? First off, it means we’re in an elite group. It’s not easy to receive this certification, and it’s also not easy to be a woman-owned business in the technology world. According to a recent survey from Harvey Nash, just 9% of U.S. chief of information officers are female. So really, we’re proud to be among this tiny sliver.

It also means we have a better way to connect with forward-thinking organizations that value diversity and achievement. You can feel good about tipping the scales toward the ladies. And you can

But that’s not all! Massachusetts has a program called the Supplier Diversity Program (SDP), which gives a little financial bump to state-based organizations that contract with women-owned businesses. That means that every dollar our clients spend on work with Talance goes further, because they’ll receive credit from the state.

It’s not often you can feel good about helping a disadvantaged business AND get a sweetener from the state. We hope you’ll be as excited as we are about our new certification.

[Image: stock.xchng user - a_glitch]

What Is the Coolest E-learning Video You Have Seen Online?

Friday, November 4th, 2011

This is an excellent question that I found while trolling through LinkedIn Answers, but it’s not unlike standard brainstorming questions I’m asked every time we launch an e-learning project.

Read the full discussion here, or check out these highlights:

The Machine is Us/ing Us. Very creative and compelling way to tell the story of Web 2.0 through imagery.

5 Tips for Success. Really funny video created by Articulate that shows the capabilities of their product and also outlines what doesn’t work with web presentations.

5 Tips for Success

5 Tips for Success

Mortgage-Backed Securities. A good explanation of a complicated and possibly dry subject.

How about you? Seen any examples of e-learning videos lately that you particularly like? Add them in the comments below.

[Have a question you’d like answered? Ask on the comments form at the bottom of this page, on Twitter @talance, or on Facebook. We’ll review your question before posting (don’t be shy about asking!) and get back to you with a response.]

Drupal 7: Ready for the Plunge?

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Ready to jump into Drupal 7

Ready to jump into Drupal 7

One of the least exciting things to hear when you start on a new web project is, “Not yet.”

That’s just what we’ve been saying since Drupal 7 debuted in January 2011. True, it’s a robust and powerful system with excellent accessibility, and we’re using it for a few of our clients now, but not everybody.

Why not jump in? First of all, it’s not quite ready for everyone. Contributors to Drupal 7 are still busy finding and patching bugs and upgrading the features from earlier versions so they work on this new version.

Secondly, it can be a heavy expense. Upgrading from an earlier version of Drupal isn’t simply downloading a patch and refreshing your screen. It’s a whole new website. Any new website takes time to build, not even including moving over all the content (words and images) and testing. Time and complexity equal money, and an organization needs to have a strong case for upgrading before making that decision.

One exception is if you’re using a very old version of Drupal, such as version 5 or earlier. The Drupal community stopped supporting and patching version 5 last year, so they’re vulnerable to security breaches and should be updated as soon as possible.

Our advice? Absolutely pull on your swimsuit, but check with your developer (or just contact us) before plunging into an upgrade. Understanding Barack Obama’s Technology Policy

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Obama is everywhere...
Yesterday, I celebrated the White House’s return to technology through Barack Obama’s multitude of gadgets.

Today, I want to talk a little about the role technology is about to take in policy. It matters to charitable organizations, because the new administration’s proposed technology policy recognizes the power of a connected population. It opens up information and allows people to share freely. Obama-Biden’s concerns about technology can be directly applied to a technologically lagging nonprofit world.

Take this phrase from the official Obama campaign website and replace every instance of “America” or “the United States” with the word “nonprofit”:

America risks being left behind in the global economy: Revolutionary advances in information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology and other fields are reshaping the global economy. Without renewed efforts, the United States risks losing leadership in science, technology and innovation. As a share of the Gross Domestic Product, American federal investment in the physical sciences and engineering research has dropped by half since 1970.

It’s the same argument I’ve been making for nonprofits embracing technology for ages. It’s the reason behind this blog.

You should read the whole technology plan to understand what’s afoot, but here are a few key items on the agenda to pay special attention to:

  • Say, “Hi,” to a new Chief Technology Officer. This isn’t the same Cybersecurity czar that the Bush Administration appointed, whose job was to lock down systems against online attacks. The CTO’s job will be just the opposite: to open the office up, including making sure officials hold open meetings that are webcasted and to introduce blogs, wikis and comments, which let regular Americans like you and me weigh in on issues that matter to us. In fact, Obama said he wants us to be able to comment for five days before legislation is signed.
  • The Internet will stay open. A key reason the Internet has been such a success is because it is the most open network in history … Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet. Users must be free to access content, to use applications, and to attach personal devices. Because most Americans only have a choice of only one or two broadband carriers, carriers are tempted to impose a toll charge on content and services, discriminating against websites that are unwilling to pay for equal treatment … Such a result would threaten innovation … It would also threaten the equality of speech through which the Internet has begun to transform American political and cultural discourse.
  • Open recruitment of regular citizens. Establishing pilot programs to open up government decision-making and involve the public in the work of agencies, not simply by soliciting opinions, but by tapping into the vast and distributed expertise of the American citizenry to help government make more informed decisions. This should sound familiar to all the congregations I’ve advised to make use of lay leadership. They may know more than you do.
  • Broadband for everyone. As a country, we have ensured that every American has access to telephone service and electricity, regardless of economic status, and Obama will do likewise for broadband Internet access. This includes refining how we use the wireless spectrum – you’re already experiencing changes here with the move to digital cable. Have you gotten your converter box coupon yet?
  • The White House is getting a website again! Lifting the veil from secret deals in Washington with a web site, a search engine, and other web tools that enable citizens easily to track online federal grants, contracts, earmarks, and lobbyist contacts with government officials.

Gadget Monday: President-Elect Barack Obama’s Many Gadgets

Monday, December 8th, 2008

This week kicks off a special presidential edition of Talance’s Friendly Web Tools Blog, celebrating the first time in eight years that the White House has participated in the technological revolution that’s been exploding everywhere else on the planet. We love how the President-elect has used technology to reach so many people, raise so many funds and create a powerful, galvanizing campaign. They’re all techniques that people at nonprofits should be studying and copying whenever possible – no matter who you voted for.

If you love gadgets, you’ll have to love how many Barack Obama has. To wit:

  • He’s a BlackBerry addict – did you see him giving speeches with it clipped to his belt?
  • He uses a Mac notebook
  • Michelle Obama said he wouldn’t leave home without his webcam to stay connected with his family
  • He uses a Zune at the gym (or at least did one time)
  • He plans to have a laptop on his desk in the Oval Office. This makes him the first president to have Internet access in the famous room. Sadly, however, he may have to give up e-mail, because they can be hacked into and subpoenaed.

FWTB Word Watch: Tweetup

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

The world of technology is hard enough to keep up with – never mind all the new vocabulary that continually arises. That’s why we decided to launch an occasional new feature, the Friendly Web Tools Blog Word Watch. We’ll keep our ears open for new words and define them here so you can see what’s new on the scene – and more importantly – what it means.

Today: tweetup, n. A spontaneous meeting among connections who follow each other on the microblogging service Twitter. Friends usually meet, but more often strangers are participating in these ad hoc meetings too.

As in: “Impromptu Tweetup Tonight @ Apple Bar: 17 Waverly Place, NYC 6:30-8pm. Hope you can make it!” (source)

Wondering what Twitter is? Take a look at blog entries I’ve tagged with the word Twitter.

How Do You Use Social Media?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

I’m not alone in telling you how social media can help your nonprofit because the tools are free, powerful and help build community. According to a survey released this September, 60 percent of Americans use social media, and of those, 59 percent interact with companies on social media websites. One in four interacts more than once per week.

That’s why Talance is launching the Massachusetts Nonprofit Social Media Survey, whose objective is gauge how Massachusetts nonprofits are using social media and how.

The results will help delineate where nonprofits fall in social media adoption rates, how that varies (for example by the size of the org), and what kind of benefits they’re receiving from their efforts. Our findings will provide solid practical value for nonprofits that want to benchmark their own practices.

The survey will be open until Nov. 21, 2008, and we are seeking one response per organization.

This survey is more useful the more people who respond, so please take a few minutes to share your experiences – it’s short.

Anyone can receive a free executive summary of the survey results when they become available this winter. Every organization that submits a completed survey will receive a complimentary copy of the full survey report, available in February. We’ll all learn a little more about nonprofits are adopting this technology.

Take the survey!

Technologically Impaired

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Check out my latest article in The Jewish Daily Forward, which articulates how many of the nonprofits we come into contact with are struggling to keep up with technology. I’m already hearing some “mazel tovs” and “Yes, we’re hearing the same thing toos.”

Technologically Impaired?
Jewish Organizations Struggle To Keep Pace With New Technologies

By Monique Cuvelier
Wed. Jun 18, 2008

Honorary Member of the Tribe. Good for the Jewish people. Rabbi of technology. Three phrases I’ve heard more than once to describe myself.

How, you might ask, did a girl raised in a Baptist church in Colorado (my parents lived down the road from the Focus on the Family headquarters) simultaneously learn how to correctly pronounce the word “nachas” and carve a niche for herself as the gentile helper of Jewish technophobes?

The question occurred to me sometime between coaching new rabbis on how to take an online course and helping a team of teachers bring social media from synagogues to a wider audience, part of the work of my company, Talance, Inc.

The answer: In short, it happened because the Jewish philanthropic world I’ve been working in since 2003 needs help. Technology is whizzing forward, picking up secular not-for-profits and Christian evangelists who have figured out how Web 2.0 — usually those technologies that bring people together through such social networks like MySpace, or encourage people to generate their own content — can assist them with growth and with community building. Meanwhile, many Jewish not-for-profits and synagogues are left behind, confused by the options and unsure of the relevance.

“Honestly, we have to quit asking other Jewish nonprofits for their advice,” said a client of mine who works for a New York-based Jewish not-for-profit. “When we ask them for information, they say, ‘We don’t know, but if you find out, tell us.’ They’re as clueless as we are.”

It’s understandable. Everybody’s a little clueless with new technology. It seems that every week, the next, brightest social media tool is all the rage.

Many secular or non-Jewish not-for-profits realize that this revolution is big and scary and unknown, but they are curious about it and willing to learn. The smart ones have figured out that with a little technical chutzpah they can reach a lot of minds out there, and as a result they’re changing more lives.

Look at, a microlending Web site that lets people such as Paul in North Carolina and Jake from Gainesville, Fla., lend money to small-time entrepreneurs in places like Uganda. If it weren’t for the connectivity of Web 2.0, Kiva never would have generated microloans valuing more than $32 million. Or take, which gave liberals a stronger voice by creating a forum for them to gather and become active.

So what exactly is breaking down when you take the term “not-for-profit” and put the word “Jewish” in front of it?

It could be a matter of where the money’s coming from. and are both extremely well funded by a wide range of sources, which makes it easy for them to experiment with new technologies. Plus, many secular not-for-profits receive a push to embrace new technology from behind the scenes.

“Some of the secular nonprofits have boards of trustees and directors with people from large corporations that exert pressure to budget the money necessary for technical development,” said Steven Lubetkin, senior fellow of the Society for New Communications Research and a synagogue tech consultant in New Jersey. He spends most of his time with his podcasting business,

“They don’t usually do that in the Jewish not-for-profit world, because so many are owned or controlled by a federation,” he said.

Rabbi Hayim Herring, executive director of Minneapolis-based STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal), which helps synagogues understand and use technology, knows federations well. He thinks there may be a cultural reason that funders aren’t pushing for more daring Internet use.

“Historically, we’ve been a people of the book, not a people of the byte,” he said. “Our medium up until now has been the text, and those who work in this media are more comfortable with the printed word. There are some synagogues that do their bulletin totally electronically, but not too many.”

Many Christian organizations — especially evangelical ones — have the spirit of startups in Northern California’s Silicon Valley and are definitely composed of people of the byte. Lay preachers can start up churches, and their goal from day one is to grow as big as possible as fast as possible. They do this by spreading the Good News anywhere they can, and accepting new converts. Not surprisingly, they find it easier to tinker with new technologies. In a time when attendance in organized religion everywhere is declining, innovations that promise to reach out to potentially millions of people sound pretty attractive.

These organizations have identified Web 2.0 communication as a tool for their ministries, and many are creating impressive Web presences. The Web site for Revolution Church in Kansas City ( has a podcast. It also links to a page on MySpace, the popular social-networking site, and has an account on Flickr, an image-hosting site and community platform. Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugar Land, Texas (, hosted a blog that informed members about the development of a new building while accepting online donations to pay for it.

Rabbi Aaron Spiegel, information technology director of the predominantly Christian Indianapolis Center for Congregations, said, “This is exactly what congregations are trying to foster, a venue for [them] to give feedback and voice their opinion.” Not to do so, he noted, is to risk alienating a host of future generations — generations that take technology for granted.

In fact, these younger generations, especially millennials, who are just now entering the work force, are likely to be the ones bringing Jewish philanthropies into the 21st century. Today’s 24-year-olds grew up with this technological revolution; they were in diapers when the Internet took hold. Technology was never something they had to get used to, but not having it feels like deprivation.

Sharna Goldseker, vice president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, directs 21/64, a project that helps wealthy millennials understand how to invest their resources. Goldseker also works with federations on how to bring “next-generations” into their networks.

“We’re seeing a generational shift,” she said. “The next generation interacts differently with technology than older generations. Historically, Jewish institutions spoke for the community. Web 2.0 technology encourages the institution to speak with the community.”

These people will force the landscape of all philanthropies — Jewish or otherwise — to change, even if it’s a difficult task. “It’s easy to look back and outline shifts [in our culture], but when you’re in them, it feels turbulent,” Goldseker said.

As Spiegel said: “They have to change. No doubt about it. The Jewish world as a group has to be more responsive to the world and the way things work. If we don’t, more and more people are going to say, ‘This world is irrelevant to my life, and I’m not going to participate.’ The benefit of responding is, they get to stay relevant and in business.

“It will happen,” Spiegel said, “probably sooner rather than later.”


Thursday, February 21st, 2008

[This article about how politicians in the UK are using the Web appears in the February issue of N-TEN.]

by Monique Cuvelier, Talance, Inc.

Back when everyone was saying Al Gore “invented the Internet,” no one rolled their eyes more than the Brits. Back then, the very notion of Internet-based technologies was enough to send British eyes into one-eighties, never mind the marriage of politics and social media. The idea of the Queen appearing on YouTube? Patently ridiculous.

What a change a few years can bring, because there she is, on YouTube’s Royal Channel with her annual Christmas speech and video clips of Prince William flying a plane.
She’s not the only UK leader who has gone digital, as politicians are looking to social media tactics to gain more youthful support.

Our politicians are starting to investigate the possibilities of social media as a way of accessing younger audiences,” says Sara Waddington, managing editor of FUMSI, an online publication that tracks the information industry. “We have a general election coming up and a lot of middle England is dissatisfied with this government’s taxation stance, so it will need to look at ways of attracting new voters from different age ranges and groups.”

With the next general election looming in 2009, politicians are beginning to mirror their American counterparts in hopes of winning more votes. Until recently, the Brits didn’t need to be so cozy with social media. In the last three general elections, the UK population was voting — for Tony Blair. Oasis’s Noel Gallagher was New Labour’s wingman and famously visited Blair at 10 Downing Street for celebratory drinks. Blair was hip, young Britons felt empowered, and the War on Terror yet hadn’t begun.

Now Blair is gone, the War on Terror is dragging on, and many young voters especially feel jilted by campaign promises that never materialized. So, they’re not voting.
British politicians are flirting with social media to see if they can win them back.

To wit:
* The Conservatives launched webcameron, their glassy Web 2.0 home where readers can view leader David Cameron’s blog or read guest bloggings by the likes of John McCain.
* Left-wing Liberal Democrats launched Flock Together, inspired by how Howard Dean tapped to gain grassroots support for campaign planning and local meetings. Those who need a constant jolt can use the site’s Twitter page.
* Before he stepped down, Tony Blair hired Zack Exley, John Kerry’s presidential campaign director, who directed Internet operations for the Labour party. He is largely credited with helping Blair with his third consecutive victory.

But it doesn’t go much beyond flirting. The social media relationship hasn’t quite developed into the deep embrace American politicos have. The Queen, for instance, mistakenly referred to “OneTube.” While Barack Obama’s chaotic MySpace page boasts 281,141 friends, the only “Gordon Brown” profile on MySpace has four friends and a lack of proper punctuation.

UK politicians may be slower than their American counterparts to adopt social media, but as one recent study from the UK communications regulatory body Ofcom indicates, they’ll catch up. The UK has higher usage of Facebook and MySpace than the rest of Europe, with one in four UK adults tapping into social networks 23 times a month. Those are numbers that are hard to ignore, no matter what side of the Pond you’re on.

Monique Cuvelier is CEO of Talance, Inc., a company that helps nonprofits – in the US and abroad – understand better how to use technology through online courses and websites. She has been writing for UK-based publications since 1996. Learn more at