For 18 years, Mediate.com has been the trusted consolidator of comprehensive mediation information and resources. When we began, mediation was the novel exception. Today, mediation is commonplace, if not expected.
A special "shout out" and thank you to John Helie, John Ford and Clare Fowler, our three amazing Mediate.com Managing Editors. All have served with remarkable dedication and creativity, each leaving their own special marks on the growth of our mediation community and industry.
There have been dramatic changes in terms of online communication and presence over 18 years. When we began, only 3% of professionals had an email address. Today, both we and all of our clients not only have email addresses, but web sites, social media presence and more.
Further, a mind-boggling array of communicational capacities now live in our pocket or purse, as well as the pockets and purses of our clients. Mediation has become more a choreography of communication than a discrete physical event.
As far as I can tell, there have been four primary "disruptive" technologies that have been "game changers" along the way:
Gamechanger #1: The Word Processor
I remember doing my first few mediations on a typewriter. I would wince when clients wanted to make changes to their agreement. Inserting a new paragraph was a big deal (needing to retype the whole agreement). My world changed when I got my first dedicated word processor in 1982. In retrospect, it seems that the word processor was a necessary pre-condition to the modern mediation movement.
Gamechanger #2: The Internet
With the Internet, we were all suddenly on the same computer. We could easily send emails and attachments and post to bulletin boards and social media. In time, the modalities of communication expanded from text to image to audio and video, and now we can have each of these 4 modalities either in real time or asynchronously. This is our new communicational palate for online mediation, and we are all now online mediators, at least to some extent.
Gamechanger #3: Bandwidth and Mobility
With ever-increasing bandwidth and ever-smaller "devices," communications, which used to be to "places" are ever now more to "people." We each carry a robust communication device that basically lets us receive any kind of incoming communication (phone, text, email, IM, Skype, Face-time, etc.), as well as respond, either in the moment or when convenient. And so I now, as a matter of ordinary course, might text a colleague or client and say on that text: "I just emailed you with a drop box link to a word file with track changes on. Please review and edit, send back and give me a ring to discuss or let's do Skype as more convenient." And, as I sit amazed even writing this, I also know that my now college age children would simply say "well, duh!" to these observations as if our plethora of communication options has always existed. As far as I can tell, if someone would have described the iPhone 10 years ago, they would have been put away as crazy. This is how fast things are moving!
Gamechanger #4: The Cloud
Finally, we arrive to the current moment and we find that "The Cloud" is the new disruptive technology that will impact you just as completely as the word processor, Internet, mobility and bandwidth.
"The Cloud" is what now allows it to all work. No more stuffing endless disks into some drive to update software, it just "happens." Maybe we say "yes" and "accept" to a terms and conditions document we never read, but that is it. Your online service providers (whether Mediate.com, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Ebay, Amazon, iTunes, you name it) are now ALL (or just about all) offered through "The Cloud." This is necessary if you are to get all of your data presented to all of your devices wherevver you are on earth, as well as get all updates and improvements. And when you screw up and delete all of your data, the good news is that there is an extremely good likelihood that The Cloud back-up services are far better than you would have ever dreamed up or put in place and so, at least in this imaginary joyous moment, let us imagine that you are off and running in no time flat following your mindbogglingly wonderful "restore."
So, wow, what an incredible present we live in, with word-processing, the Internet, mobility, bandwidth and now The Cloud and endless devices to provide us with ever improving environments to do our online work that take care of us when we screw up. But it was not always this way! Let's take a moment to remember.
Looking back for a moment, Mediate.com was originally "MIRC" - the Mediation Information & Resource Center. This was our original home page:
Back in 1996, one of our first projects was assisting Jim Boskey to bring his amazing "The Alternative Newsletter" (TAN) online and searchable. With John Helie's leadership, we brought TAN online (saving a gazillion trees) and also made it searchable. Here is a picture of how all of that looked:
Mediate.com has also for 18 years done our best to assist state organizations to optimize their online presence. An early example of this was our assisting the Mediation Center of North Carolina with their online presence and newsletter:
We also had the opportunity to work with Guy and Heidi Burgess to build the original CRInfo.org:
And we also have had the opportunity to build the first Program on Negotiation Clearinghouse for the Harvard Negotiation Project:
We have also had the opportunity to develop (continuing over the past 15 years) a state-of-the-art educational resource center for The National Center for Dispute Resolution in Special Education, with the original site looking like this:
Since this time, we are also proud to have assisted many additional organizations with their web development, including, but not limited to:
- Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM)
- American College of Civil Trial Mediators (ACCTM)
- Oregon Mediation Association (OMA)
- The Mediation Association of Colorado (theMAC)
- Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR - 30 second and chapter sites)
- Mediation Group of Tennessee
- Association of Missouri Mediators (AMM)
- Utah Council on Conflict Resolution (UCCR)
- Accord3.0 Strategic Public Policy Consultants
We are also extremely proud of our development of the leading cloud-based case management system specifically designed for ADR Programs and Practitioners: Caseload Manager. We currently have over 70 of our Caseload Manager systems deployed, including systems for the State of Nebraska, Los Angeles County Bar Association, King County Seattle, Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center, Mediate Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation Program, Community Boards of San Francisco and Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement.
And so, between publishing 500 issues of The Mediate.com Weekly (and over 15,000 articles, blog postings, news items and videos), hosting the most used mediation directory in the world, and assisting hundreds of professionals and organizations with capable and affordable web capacity and presence, we have been busy! In fact, we have been working as creatively and efficiently as we can for 18 years running. We think we have made a difference and hope that you agree!
Now, back to that "to do" list.