2011 conversations about community ICT

Although the pragmatics of using ICTs were barely touched on at the National Not-for-profit Conference 2011, held in Auckland 17-18 March, the essential nature of the Internet as a disruptive technology was raised time and time again.

Tonya Surman, fittingly beamed in over the Internet via Skype, addressed this most directly. She told delegates that not-for-profit organisations can learn a lot from the design principles that make the Internet work.

Match the best of what the Internet has to offer (ie self-organising, open innovation and place/ network connectivity) with real world needs and you can create the conditions for social innovation. Tonya founded her conclusions on deep experience within the Canadian community sector and in social change, including her current roles with Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto and as vice chairperson of Ontario Nonprofit Network.

Others didn’t have as an elaborate theory as Tonya, but instead referred to how social media offers new ways of thinking about or doing things. Getting your message out and engaging in people were two recurrent threads.

ICT was directly tackled by Earl Mardle in a workshop exploring why IT promises a great deal but too often comes up short. After talking with Earl about management issues associated with ICT, I got the sense that many organisations typically do not have a clear pathway for how they’ll get the most out of ICT.

While there is growing acceptance that ICT, and social media in particular, is an integral part of how organisations operate (and is not going away), exactly how to get the most from it is a question that remains to be answered.

Coming up in the next three months are some events where ICTs will be at the forefront. I’m hoping that as well as covering the nitty gritty of different aspects of ICT use, the conversation will address how organisations are integrating ICT to achieve their goals.

Registrations are now open for these upcoming community sector ICT events:

I’ll be delivering workshops at all these events. I’m sure there will be many conversations about how ICT can be used to help make the world a better place. We better remember to talk about how we can get there.