Sometimes technology moves so fast it even amazes me -- and I'm not easily amazed.
But first, a bit of background. For the past five years I've served as a Vice Chair for the Williams College Alumni Fund. The Vice Chairs serve as a steering committee for the fund, setting fundraising and participation goals, as well as trying to figure out ways to get alumni more involved.
Usually, Vice Chairs are the star fund raisers. However, I'm the black sheep in the family. I'm the techie. Consequently, myself and several others have nudged, suggested, and otherwise tried to guide the Alumni Office on how they can use technologies such as Web sites, data mining, and blogs to make their jobs easier. (With limited success, I might add. Williamstown, MA is approximately 3,000 miles away from Silicon Valley, and it shows.)
We've been trying to get alumni classes to set up Web sites. I set up my class' Web site (www.williams75.org) about eight years ago, and it's been a big hit. However, we've run into a roadblock -- which is that very few graduates are professional Webmasters.
So when Peter O'Kelly was doing research on a forthcoming report on wikis -- and mentioned in passing that JotSpot had created a class reunion application -- my ears perked up. I spent an hour trying it out last night, and it's pretty impressive (JotSpot offers a free trial at http://classreunion.jot.com/). The interface is a bit of a kludge, and I can't paint the site in the appropriate Williams purple and gold colors, but it does offer functionality (e.g., a blog, and a Google map with classmate locations on it) that I would have to spend weeks if not months coding. Plus, there isn't a whiff of HTML anywhere.
I've sent out invitations to some classmates and some others to see what they think. But, at first glance, all that functionality at only $40 a year doesn't seem too bad. A year ago, if someone had told me such capabilities would be available for such a low price, I would have laughed. It's clear even I can be taken aback at technology's pace.