Nothing is better for instilling camaraderie and team spirit than running together - at a race, in an organized PPTC event, or on an informal group run. When doing any of these things is impossible, there are still a number of electronic ways that PPTC can communicate with members and members communicate with each other. The proliferation of these media have made it difficult for PPTCers to be aware of the different places that conversations about PPTC and running in Brooklyn take place. Following is a description of the different alternatives followed by a discussion about some ways in which the club is trying to make it easier for members to communicate and get information.
• PPTC.ORG is our main website and the place to find announcements about big events on the club calendar such as the Turkey Trot, Cherry Tree, coached speed workouts, regular group runs, etc. The main site also includes links to (or embedded versions of) the club calendar, Facebook, Flickr (photos), Target Races, and the Open Forum. On tabs (found at the top of the main page) are the PPTC blog and the Member Race History page. If you are going to remember only one resource, PPTC.ORG is it because it will show you the way to everything else we have online.
• "PPTC Bytes" is the name that the club uses for its email blasts to the entire club. If you are a member and the club has your email you should be receiving these. However, occasionally an email address gets skipped, so if you have never seen a "PPTC Byte" get your name on the list by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. I think everyone knows how to use email by now, so there isn't much else to say about "PPTC Bytes."
• The PPTC Open Forum is an unmoderated Google group that is available only to PPTC members at http://groups.google.com/group/pptc-open-forum?hl=en (first time you visit, you have to request permission from the group administrator). The discussions are on various running-related topics and are often very lively. There are a few ways to stay up- to-date with the Open Forum: members can elect to receive each and every email sent to the group, they can get a daily or weekly digest of the emails, or can elect not to receive email and browse the group at the following address [link]. There are advantages and disadvantages to all of these methods of following the Open Forum, so experiment and see which is best for you.
• PPTC also has its own group on Facebook with over 200 "members." For those of us who use the popular social network, this is a convenient place to make announcements, post questions, extend invitations for group runs or impromptu social events. Often, the information on Facebook is cross-posted to the Open Forum. The two media are also similar in that anyone can post to them and anyone can respond. One difference between Facebook and the Open Forum is that the Facebook group is open to non-PPTC members.
• The PPTC calendar is visible as an embedded element on the main pptc.org page by scrolling down to the "Race Calendar" heading. This calendar is an amazing resource that also includes the regular PPTC group runs, running events throughout the five NYC boroughs and in surrounding parts of NY, NJ and Connecticut. It is a Google Calendar (called "Prospect Park Track Club Events" if you need to search for it), so if you use the Google Calendar service or Outlook, it can appear in your own personal calendar i.e., without having to go to our home page. Another useful aspect of the calendar is that if you double-click on the individual event blocks, you will then see details such as the location of the race and, in many cases, a link to the website.
• The PPTC Blog can be found at http://pptcblog.blogspot.com/ and is also the second tab on the top menu bar at PPTC.ORG. The blog is used to post online versions of the newsletter articles and sometimes for other notices that are linked elsewhere. When we update pptc.org (see discussion below), the main site will include more blog-like elements and it may be possible to do away with the separate blog.
There a couple more online services which club members have been trying on an experimental basis:
• PPTC has a group on Flickr, a popular photo sharing service at http://www.flickr.com/groups/pptc_photos/pool/ Anyone can join this group and upload photos, but in practice people have more frequently been sharing photos among "friends" on Facebook and sometimes with the PPTC group on that service.
• There is also a twitter feed @ProspectParkTC which is maintained by member, Mark Crowther. Based on our recent survey of club communications, there don't appear to be many PPTC members using the Twitter service, but it is increasing in general popularity and influence, so this may be something that grows in the future.
PPTC is working to improve all forms of communication with and among its members. It recently conducted an online survey to understand which online tools you are finding most useful. Thank you to the more than 90 members who responded! One of the results of the survey is this article: we realized that many people are not aware of all the resources available. The club is planning to update the website in ways that will make it easier to use and better integrated with other online tools such as social media. If you have an interest in helping the club to communicate more effectively or a technical skill you can share, please contact me and we will find a way to get you involved.