Digitise the West

Digitise the Nation is an annual event run by the Irish Internet Association (IIA). It is an initiative where individuals and groups can share their personal skills and unique knowledge through talks, presentations and consulatations. This event aims to educate the nation in the uses of the internet and how to harness the power that rests at their fingertips.

Responding to this initiative Digitise the West have put together an event that takes place today in Galway, Ireland.

W3 Projects, the group behind Digitise the West and one of its members is Richard Conroy, a software engineer by profession. He met the rest of his group during a WebActivate program. They meet up on a weekly basis, run self development courses, share knowledge with each other and invite guest speakers in.

“While we’ve being doing a lot of self educating,” Richard says, “there hasn’t been a chance to organise something until now with Digitise the West.”

The WebActivate program provided Richard with an insight into how much there was to do in educating people about communicating on the Web. “One thing you see is there are an enormous amount of businesses out there whose websites don’t perform for them. The awareness of what the internet can do for you is not well known. People say “I want a website” so they’ll get a website, they don’t say “I want a successful online strategy.”

“It’s important to be aware that you need to educate yourself when you’re looking for someone to help you build your online presence. You need to know what you need to ask, there’s lot of work you need to do yourself. That’s hopefully an area where W3 Projects can come in, we’re quite approachable and we cover everything.”

W3 Projects is not a business in itself. The closest analogy is that of a cooperative or even just a club. As Richard explains, “We’re a group of business professionals with online web skills focused on helping companies develop and grow their business online.

“We’re marketing ourselves to raise awareness of what we’re doing and we want to get clients that’s what all our members are really looking for.”

The wisdom of crowds holds that mixed groups out perform similar sized groups of experienced people. There is a less of tendency towards complacency when different ideas are interchanged. An implication of this idea is that under certain conditions random people think better together.

All this activity by W3 Projects takes place in the context of a greater whole. Richard says, “The idea of Digitise the Nation is, run whatever you can, wherever you can. We have about 18 volunteers. Six or seven will be upstairs speaking at the seminar, the remainder will be greeting people coming in the door telling them what we do and looking at their existing business strategy.

“We’re finding there’s lot of interest from local businesses because of how approachable we are and how diverse our skills are. We’re calling it the luxury problem; we have to deal with clients now.”

Digitise the West will be held on Friday May 13th from 2pm-5pm in Yeats House, Fr. Griffin Road. The event will include business seminars and an open clinic on how local companies can maximise their business online. Seminars include social media, effective website practices, SEO, blogging, branding for small businesses. Admission is free.

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