Welcome aboard, Catherine Winters… as Social Signal takes on Second Life

Welcome aboard, Catherine Winters… as Social Signal takes on Second Life

A few months ago, Rob and I decided that Social Signal was ready to expand its development team with another web services consultant; Aaron Pettigrew has had such a transformative impact on our business that we realized another Aaron (as though there could be such a thing) would allow us to serve that many more clients that much more effectively.

And we decided that while we were adding another web geek to the team, we might look for someone who knows a little about Second Life — a virtual world that is the Internet's hottest new home to online community. (Find out more about Second Life here.) So I sent an e-mail to a leading Second Life blogger who blew my mind when we met at last year's SXSW. Here's what I asked him:

since I keep hoping that our business may eventually involve doing some Second Life projects for folks, I have the idea that our ideal next hire would be someone who's an experienced Second LIfer – probably not someone who's doing Second LIfe stuff professionally yet (though possibly) but the kind of person who'd be thrilled to make that part of their work. Basically we're just looking for a bright, energetic, progressive and tech-impassioned person who would enjoy bringing their social commitments and tech passions together. Do you happen to know any SL types in Vancouver who'd fit that description?

Lucky for us, he had an inspiration: a Vancouverite whose SL name is Catherine Omega. He pointed us to Catherine's bio on the Second Life wiki, and that was enough to convince us to get together with her.

A couple of weeks later, we met up with Catherine (known in real life as Catherine Winters) in a local Vancouver restaurant. Over the course of a lively lunch we covered everything from how she first got into Second Life (on a computer she built herself from scavenged parts) to the larger significance of Second Life and other virtual worlds (as a way of bridging social differences and disparities).

That was the first of a series of meetings in which Catherine coached us out of our SL newbieness and started talking with us about how Second Life could support a socially sustainable business approach. We were dazzled by Catherine's brilliant and thought-provoking take on Second Life's social significance, by her strategic insights into how organizations could make innovative and effective use of an SL presence, and by her exceptional clarity and good humor in making Second Life accessible to new users. And we suspected that as one of the co-authors of the new Official Guide to Second Life, she was in a position to take a leadership role in bringing more people to the platform.

Today, we're delighted to announce that Catherine Winters is joining Social Signal as our Manager of Virtual Worlds. Catherine will be leading a new Second Life practice to help businesses, non-profits and government agencies establish innovative, effective presences "in world". This practice will focus on working with organizations that want to create a profoundly interactive presence that stands out in Second Life's every-expanding world, that want an SL presence that integrates with a web-based online community, or that want their SL presence to advance a sustainability or social change agenda.

We'll have more news to share in the coming months about our plans for Second Life, including the forthcoming launch of our own island. Catherine's creative ideas and scripting powers will be put to good use as we introduce new opportunities for organizations to make compelling use of Second Life as a new medium for strategic communication.

Meanwhile our web site can tell you more about Catherine and our new Second Life practice. We also hope you'll join us for an open house to introduce Catherine to our clients, colleagues and friends, and to introduce Social Signal to the Second Life community. The open house will be held from 2-4 pm Second Life time (aka Pacific time) on Wednesday, January 3 at TechSoup's space on Info Island. (Many thanks to CompuMentor for lending their space to us for this event) If you've yet to visit Second Life, this is a great excuse to download their software and try it out (it's free to download and free to register) for yourself.

If you'd like to learn more about Second Life, or about how Social Signal's new practice can help your organization establish an effective Second Life presence, please call (778.371.5445) or e-mail Catherine (catherine [at] socialsignal [dot] com), me (alex [at] socialsignal [dot] com) or Rob (rob [at] socialsignal [dot] com).

We owe that blogger a huge thank-you for making this inspired connection. And yes, this does mean we're still looking for that web services consultant.

Turning Words into Deeds: A response to Knight Foundation’s 21st Century News Challenge

Turning Words into Deeds: A response to Knight Foundation’s 21st Century News Challenge

What makes for a transformative media moment: a moment when an individual reads, watches or hears a news story and is galvanized to take action on an issue? Social Signal hopes to offer a new answer to that question with the WIDget, a tool that will turn words into deeds by marrying web-savvy media outlets with the latest nonprofit volunteer and donation opportunities.

The WIDget is our proposal to the Knight Foundation’s 21st Century News Challenge, a call for “new ways to understand news and act on it…new ways for people to communicate interactively to better understand one another…[and] new ways for people to use information.”

The WIDget answers this challenge by by using the latest Internet tools to match issue-oriented journalism with opportunities for concrete citizen engagement. Through a Words Into Deeds widget (WIDget), online media outlets, blogs, audio and video sites will be able to complement any issue-specific story with a set of related volunteer and donation opportunities. You can read about the WIDget and take a look at a mock-up in our draft proposal for the Knight Foundation (PDF).

We’ve made a conscious decision to share our proposal before the December 31 submission deadline because we think that a community converesation about the proposal can help make it stronger, and help us find the best partners to support the WIDget’s development. You can contribute to this process if you are:

  • A nonprofit organization that maintains organizational databases: contact Social Signal to add your database to the list of databases that will be tapped by the WIDget.
  • A nonprofit organization that wants to promote its donor or volunteer opportunities: contact Social Signal to add your organization’s name to the list of nonprofits who want to appear in WIDget listings.
  • A media outlet or blogger: contact Social Signal to add your outlet or blog site to the list of outlets that would deploy the WIDget to offer volunteer and donor opportunities to your readers.
  • An interested observer: share your thoughts about the WIDget by commenting on this blog post or by emailing Social Signal with your comments.

To contact Social Signal, please e-mail widget@socialsignal.com.

Thanks in advance for any comments or suggested partnerships, and we’ll keep you posted on how our proposal evolves.

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Social Signal is hiring a Business and Project Manager

Social Signal is hiring a Business and Project Manager

Social Signal is offering an unusual opportunity to come in on the ground floor of a business with the experience, reputation and credentials to go sky-high. If your enthusiasm for technology is matched only by your passion for social change, you'll find that the joy of working with kindred spirits can be matched by the thrill of helping communities use the Internet in ways they never imagined.

WHO WE ARE: Social Signal puts the web to work for social change, helping organizations turn online communities into a powerful force for progress. We have extensive experience in the non-profit, public and private sectors, and a large network of local, national and international colleagues and clients that you'll be working with on a regular basis. While you expand your professional network and skills, we also hope you'll enjoy being part of our personal network of technology leaders and community advocates in Vancouver and abroad.

WHO WE NEED: We're looking for a organized, progressive, tech-friendly person whose project management skills can make our work even more effective.  This fourth member of our team isn't just there to justify taking a four-person table during our meetings in the local Internet cafe. We need a boss: someone who can manage our business affairs, major projects and our team itself so that we make the most of our resources. The right person will enjoy our company's informal, friendly vibe but will help us balance friendliness with professionalism and efficiency.

WHAT YOU'LL DO: You'll business manage our business, project manage our projects, and prioritize our priorities. Your primary responsibility will be to manage our work priorities — everything from client work to business development to financial and legal affairs — to ensure that everything is getting done. You'll also help structure our client engagements by consulting on project scope, breaking down tasks, and assigning responsibilities. You'll know you're doing your job if everyone else on the team is clear about theirs.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • managing business operations including h.r., finance and legal affairs
  • project managing web development projects
  • writing or editing project proposals
  • identifying work priorities and assigning tasks
  • maintaining friendly, productive relations with our clients (including non-profit organizations, governments and socially-minded businesses) and suppliers (including designers, web developers and hosting companies)

WHO YOU ARE: You're the person who gets things done: organized and detail-oriented while keeping your eye on the big picture. You're confident, diplomatic and a born problem-solver, with a gift for getting along with people even when deadlines are looming or computers are crashing. You like knowing that the work you've done each day has made a real difference – to your colleagues, your clients, and the world.

You're passionate about social change, and your community or activist history shows it. And while you're not a programmer, you're as psyched as we are about the web's ability to make that change happen: your idea of excitement is mastering a great new online task management tool, discovering a smart progressive web site or writing a particularly sharp blog post.

Your real-world and computer desktops are as simple and uncluttered as a Zen rock garden. You're able to point to projects you've guided to completion, chaos you've turned into order, and cats you've herded into neat little rows and columns.

This is a full-time mid-level position. You've already demonstrated your capacity to plan, organize and manage complex projects; now you want to put that capacity to work in a role that will engage and challenge you.

HOW TO APPLY: Please e-mail a résumé, cover letter and salary expectations to hiring@socialsignal.com by September 15th, 2006. Tell us why you’d like to work for Social Signal, and please describe your relevant skills and professional or volunteer experiences. We want to hear about your community, advocacy or public service experiences as much as about your project management and organizational skills and experience. We're particularly interested in hearing about your:


  • project planning and management
  • personal organization and time management
  • solid writing and communication skills
  • attention to detail
  • tech skills (Mac/Windows/Linux, software programs you know, web tools you use)


  • projects where you've been responsible for planning and coordinating (examples might include event planning, office management or web site development)
  • writing for work or fun, on a regular basis; proposal/grant-writing
  • situations where you've worked independently with minimal supervision
  • work that has involved client relations or working with the public
  • jobs that have required you to organize not only your own work but also to keep track of other people's responsibilities and deadlines
  • volunteer work for community organizations or causes
  • situations where you've gone the extra mile to get the job done


  • commmunity groups, projects or issues you're involved in
  • web sites you like or web tools you're excited about

Bonus points for:

  • having your own blog
  • telling us your favourite tech tool for managing time or organizing tasks
  • a strong opinion (pro or con) about Getting Things Done

Compensation will be commensurate with skills and experience. Please note that this is a mid-level position.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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