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Complete Internet Strategies

For the past year, most of my work has consisted of providing complete Internet strategies to clients. The model for building these strategies basically demands movement through four phases. The phases both move as a cycle and with various areas intersecting.

Phase 1: Theory
When I work with teams (usually drawn from my associates base) to create an Internet strategy, we start with an examination of current theory. This is the phase where we give due consideration to current social and technical philosophies and observations. Theory is generally the shortest phase of a project, but it demands that team members are up to date with everything happening in the Internet industry, e-commerce, with what's happening in children's entertainment, educational trends, and with toys and gaming. It's also important to be aware of the trends in how kids and their parents and teachers are relating to each other.

Phase 2: Research
Research is often the most demanding phase of strategy building. Here, not only must a target audience be defined, but they must be consulted. The other stake holders concerned with the audience must also be consulted. Not only do we have to design research models and activities that define user demands and desires, we must accessing their imaginations during this crucial phase.

Phase 3: Strategy
The strategy phase theory and research are used as tools to build two models in parallel. These are (i) the content model, which meets the user demands and desires and (ii) the business model that supports the content development and generates profit. During this phase there is constant communication between development team members, clients and stake holders. Not only is this a stage that demands juggling ideas from various sources, it is where team members perform dizzying feats of intellectual and creative acrobatics. During this phase the creative brief, technical specifications, branding objectives and style guides are also created.

Phase 4: Development
Only once the strategic phase is completed, do we move into development with a creative and technical team who have had input into each of the phases.

I've been providing content strategies using this model to Medium One
and Skoodles, a children's Internet service due to launch in the fall of 2000.

Most of the work I do ends with a consulting report or a presentation to a large group of executives, which is great. It's also nice to do work that other people can explore, challenge and interact with. Here are some of my recent projects that do have a web presence.

I was the producer for Generation Net on Devine Time, an interactive journey through history for kids ages 7 to 12. Inspired by the Inventors Specials by Devine Entertainment, the site is a history of invention and technology from Leonardo da Vinci to Albert Einstein. The site uses video, text and images to attract kids who must master the content to compete in the Trivia Challenge Lab. The Devine Time Flight Lab lets kids experiment with the principles of flight through building online models. The site is very slow if you're not a high bandwidth user.

Growing Up Digital was published in September 1997 before ICQ and IM changed everything, but it is still a great introduction to youth culture online. KidsNRG, a company that hires and trains teenage Internet developers, designed the site.

I am already 27 and I'm not sure than kids between 2 and 22 are always going to be comfortable enough to tell me everything with the same degree of honesty that they do now. So, in preparation, I am diversifying my research interests and writing about the unhappy workplace. I am collecting people's fantasy letters of resignation for a book called "Kiss My Freckled Ass Goodbye: Words for the Boss both Said and Left Unsaid." The research site can be found at kissmyfreckledassbye.com

Toronto Webgrrls: Women on the Web, now Digital Eve Toronto, Women on the Web, is a networking organisation for women who work in new media. From January 1998 to May 1999 I was the Community Outreach Co-ordinator on the steering committee. In this capacity I acted as an advisor and spokesperson on issues related to children and computing as well as women and computing. In an administrative capacity I built relationships with existing community organisations to create computer and Internet training programs for girls and women.

I have given speeches about my work in the US, Canada, Germany and Greece. One of them is available by video streaming online as part of the Pan Am by Design speakers series sponsored by the McLuhan Centre at the University of Toronto.

I occasionally do research into business strategies and current practises online for the Multimediator Strategy Group, a consulting firm with strong ties to the multimedia industry in Canada. You can find their job and events resource at multimediator.com

A lot has changed since I first started to use the Internet and I don't want to forget the old days. The first thing I used the Internet for was human rights work. While in graduate school during the summer of 1995, I was a project assistant at the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists (CCPJ) and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). IFEX used the net to spread the word about international violations against journalists and freedom of the press to the international community.

In 1996 I graduated with an MFA from the Department of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. While I was there I worked on the literary magazine Prism International. Andrew Gray, the Executive Editor at the time, made Prism the first Canadian literary magazine to go online in 1995.

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