Impressions of the Information Technology Roundtable

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MaryJo Garascia
Andrea Barnes
Andrea Barnes
Teuvo Orjala
Teuvo Orjala
Michael Hanian
Michael Hanian

By MaryJo Garascia, Denver, Colorado, USA

It was a privilege―and a heck of a lot of fun―to meet, brainstorm, and plan with some of the best and brightest information technology (IT) experts in the Urantia Book community. In an intensive two-day meeting, we came together at Urantia Foundation for the purpose of assessing what we had done since the last roundtable and to plan new avenues of service and outreach in the virtual world.

Urantia Foundation,, The Urantia Book Fellowship, and Urantia Association International sent representatives, making the meeting a true community affair.

We enjoyed discussion of Skype study groups through a Skype presentation, from France, by Michael Hanian, the chief translator of Urantia Foundation's Russian translation. He is the pioneer of online study groups, and he shared with us the evolution of his group, and how they made it better through trial and error. He presented ideas that work and proudly showed us how they have spanned the European continent through the use of Skype technology. Good news, indeed!

One interesting highlight for me was Georges Michelson-Dupont's explanation and visual tour through the intricate and demanding procedures of translating The Urantia Book. It was an eye-opener to me to acquire a better understanding of the methods used, and I was impressed with the level of programming presently in place―programming that facilitates the challenging interactive system used by the translation team of each language. I know that it has taken years to arrive at this level of expertise, yet Georges made it look quite effortless! There are several new translations in progress, and Georges's presentation enhanced my appreciation of the intensive efforts of these tireless and dedicated servers of the Urantia Revelation.

It was a pleasure to see some of our younger brothers in the room those two days. Teuvo Orjala gave us a peek into the virtual interests of the under-thirty readers, highlighting the best ways to attract young people in ways that will capture their interest. Todd, who surprised us all at the first IT Roundtable by unveiling the first Urantia Book app called "Big Blue Book," gave us insights into his newest forays into making The Urantia Book easily accessible over the many and varied digital platforms that people use today.

Andrea Barnes, chairwoman of the Fellowship's Outreach Committee, presented a new concept in managing online information about The Urantia Book. She calls it Online Reputation Management (ORM). She reminded us that those of us who treasure The Urantia Book have an obligation to develop and protect the good reputation of the book. Presenting a strong, united voice in defense of the book now and in the future is a sobering task. Andrea gave us useful tools for monitoring online information, and she gave us practical suggestions for implementing this idea.

On the second day of the meeting, we broke up into three small groups for the purpose of hammering out action items to be addressed as a result of the ideas presented in day one, namely, social media, ePublishing, and IT collaboration. After that, the spokesperson for each smaller group gave the group's recommendations to the entire group. Our meeting concluded with the setting of priorities for 2013 and discussing the next best steps for us to take.

Urantia Foundation has been transformed into a place of grace, beauty, and hospitality. We dined in high style through the superb culinary skills of Jennifer Siegel. Some of us were delighted to be over-night guests, and it was a real pleasure to use the facilities that have been recently renovated. There was a warm and friendly feeling not only among the roundtable attendees but also among those who served and helped behind the scenes. All things―and all persons―definitely worked together for good!

One can't help but feel blessed to have been part of this, our third IT Roundtable. I know that we all look forward to next year's IT Roundtable, as we begin to implement some of the wonderful ideas brought forth during the meeting. We'll be watching with wonder to see how our rapidly changing internet technology presents even more opportunities for growth in the future!

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