Q2 2018 - Technology Applied Right Accelerates Progress

Stephen A. Balke
General Grand Recorder
Technology Committee Chair

Technology Committee Update

The direction of the General Grand Council can be encapsulated in a few phrases:

Cryptic Masons International – Preserving Traditions, Enabling Masonic Unity

Creating Conduits for Effective Masonic Communication

The Technology Committee has been charged with several tasks for this Triennium which are designed to follow through on these ideals as best we can. One year ago, at the Southwest Conference, the feedback given was that the General Grand Council needed to increase communication and give a modernization to the website. Over the following two months, RPC John Bridegroom gave us a presentation with fantastic images, MIC Dan Hanttula made the site translate into many different languages, and IC Rod Wagoner installed an extension that automatically loads items of a certain category in a desired layout. The last facilitated the presentation on the website of our answer to the demand for better communication – the Weekly Decryption, which started in January and has continued (though not always weekly). Our biggest challenge at this point is that there are few of us on the Committee, and much work being done.

Since January, and in addition to keeping up the website and the Decryption, we have also been laying foundations for some powerful tools to further enhance our communications ability and to respond to the survey’s response of a need for further education resources:

  1. MIC Dan Hanttula is finishing his work on an online MarketPlace. The General Grand Council will be offering the opportunity for vendors of Masonic merchandise to put up a store and sell items through  https://generalgrandcouncil.org. Each vendor will use their own PayPal account and a sur charge of 15% will be split between the Corporate Fund (10%) and CMMRF (5%).
  2. RPC Carle Jackson, head of the Education Committee, is in the process of bringing several existing education programs to our online Learning Management System. https://rabboni.org has been staged, and the LMS will live at https://learn.rabboni.org. Comp. Harry Jenkins will be the contact for walking contributors through building courses and curricula within the LMS.
  3. Comp. Len Roughgarden is working on a central database which will keep records online as well as provide a central LDAP or login server which will allow for a single sign on for all of the sites associated with the General Grand Council.
  4. In addition to the above projects, we are:
    1. Implementing the ability for members to use their Facebook or Google logins to sign on to the GGCCMI website.
    2. Mapping the processes that facilitate the business of the General Grand Council and inserting them into a server based system which will leverage forms, reports and emails to remind all participants of tasks that need to be done.
    3. Working on several automations and updates to the rest of the website designed to make information and resources more readily available, and “normalized” or made so that when you change any information, it propagates throughout the system.
  5. Recently, the CMMRF website was turned over to our committee by the Board at the meeting in Indianapolis. The site will be modernized, new and more regular communications regarding research are going to be requested, and CMMRF will be a vendor on the GGC website. One of the many benefits will also be that we can solicit members to “subscribe” to donate regularly - $5.00 a month (or any amount, but we’re asking people to “help a latte each month”).

While few of these are tied directly to a hard timeline at this stage, the take away is that with just a few people we are making a great deal of progress. We are working under the creed of “under promise and over deliver”. We encourage all Companions to standby as these projects start materializing during this Cryptic Year, or, better yet, if you have a drive to educate, work with documenting, or some computer skills, we can use some help!

Tools that You Can Use… Coming Soon or Here

  1. Become a user on the site and have your Grand Recorder communicate to our committee that you are in Good Standing… then:
    1. Follow some easy instructions to author an article and submit your local experiences or plans. Or – Send in a Word document with separate images to contribute to the Weekly Decryption.
    2. Fill out a form to advertise your events, post your registration forms and utilize our system to offer a Google maps location reference to get people there.
  2. Utilize the MarketPlace to order books and Cryptic Masonry items online.
  3. Request a Survey to be sent out to gather information from your Council or Grand Council
    1. Submit Questions (all types)
    2. Provide an email list or utilize ours (with approval of the GGM)
  4. Register yourself as a vendor and sell items through the website, as well as contributing to the fund designed to curb future per capita increases and to our charity.

Companions, as always, your input is solicited regarding what is included here, any ideas you may have, and especially if you are willing to become part of a team that believes in the work of the General Grand Council and is focused on producing an ongoing success story.

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