Thursday, June 05, 2008

Finally, the Perfect Use for Texting

This has been a very rainy spring here in Minnesota. I have 3 kids in practices, and am coordinator for one of their teams. More than once, it has been touch-and-go as to whether weather would cause a practice to be canceled. When storms threaten, several things happen, all bad:
  • Parents call the coaches cell phone all afternoon.
  • Some parents don't get cancellation emails in time, and make the trip for nothing
  • Other parents assume practice is canceled, when it isn't
While email is very convenient, it is often not timely enough. One, because not everyone carries a BlackBerry; two, because many people use the work email address.

It finally dawned on me that texting was the solution. Everybody carries cell phones, all the time, and texting is very near-real-time.

But I didn't want to solicit and hand-enter 40 or more cell phone numbers (2-3 per athlete). And I wanted all 3 coaches to be able to send the cancellation (or non-cancellation) message.

I looked around the web a little bit, and found a site called www.networktext.com. It's basically a newsgroup for texting. Ad-supported. It has the key features I need:
  1. Self-service registering for the members (parents).
  2. Ability to designate administrators--the only people who can send messages to the group.
  3. Ability to send texts to the group from a computer.
I put out the word to the parents only two days ago, expecting to have low participation. I figured maybe after the next time it was a rainout, that would motivate more people to sign up. But this spring being the wet, unpredictable season it has been, 48 hours later we had our first opportunity to use it. When I logged in, I was surprised to see 23 members registered.

It seemed to work well, one of the parents even replied (by email) thanking me for setting it up, and another replied by text. To be honest, I am surprised this hasn't caught on more. This seems like a very obvious area for Google to move into.

1 comment:

  1. That is a great idea, reminds me of the new wave of "text mobs" (I forget the new term for it) but how mobs communicvate in real time using mass texting.

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