In other words, linking to the #14ntc

Having written up a ‘proper’ report about my time at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (#14ntc), Washington DC, 13-15 March 2014, here’s my ‘live’ recording, links from many of the businesses cards I exchanged and a few other blog posts about the conference.

Another way to learn more is view tweets on the main #14ntc twitter hastag, which was tweeted 24,505 times during the course of the conference, according to analysis by the Connected Cause.

Links garnered along the way

Manhattan Neighbourhood Network
Freeform Solutions
formulize
Upper Valley Farm to School Network
Safe Patient Project
Jason King Design
designHAMMER
National Centre for Lesbian Rights
www.deborahelizabethfinn.com
Relevanza
joycebettencourt.com
Live Stories
Measurement Resources Company
CauseVox
small world labs
innovation network – transforming evaluation for social change
Caravan Studios
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
PopVox
Fission Strategy
Global Giving – storytelling project
Storytelling with Data
Paul Webster – nptechuk
Grant Book

Other blog posts on the Nonprofit Technology Conference 2014

#14NTC Social Snapshot, by Connected Cause
NTC Summary 2014 Edition, by Peter Campbell
My #14NT Takeaway: Finding Your “Only”, by Julie Price, Impact Communications Inc
What I learned at #14NTC (NTEN Nonprofit Tech Conference), by Steve Heye
Five things I learned at #14NTC, by Jason Samuels, IT Director at the National Council on Family Relations
Reflections on 14NTC: Technology Experimentation and the Ad Hoc Open Source Society, by Craig Sinclair, Manhattan Neighbourhood Network

Reflecting on climate change and #nptech

List of five people and distances travelled to NTEN's conference, March 2014Three tonnes of CO2.

That’s the ballpark estimate for how much of the climate changing carbon that will be emitted on my behalf, for my flights to the Nonprofit Technology Conference.

It’s a long way to Washington DC for me. It’s over 14,000 kilometres from my home on the west coast of Te Ika a Maui, New Zealand’s northern island.

Living close to the sea with a coastline threatened by rising sea levels is another reason for my concern. If we don’t reduce (or limit) the level of carbon in the atmosphere, I’ll likely suffer. As will my children. And their children too.

Some of my South Pacific neighbours are already finding sea water rising perilously close to their homes.

Knowing that my flights, in whatever small way on a global scale, contribute to climate change isn’t something I can truthfully ignore. It’d be easy to brush my insignificant contribution under a handy carpet. After all, my flight is hardly unusual. Why should I do anything about it?

It was looking at Beth’s presentation from her talk on individual social responsibility at TedXBerkeley in February that really spurred me to act.

Writing earlier about this topic after some personal philanthropy in India, Beth talks about “taking small actions that collectively can add up to changes.”

So, what am I doing?

My first response was to consider planting a small forest on our section. Then call it Washington DC forest as reminder of my obligation to the planet.

Before looking into this in any detail, my sister – who is an environmental planner – dissuaded me. Any trees not planted in certified scheme won’t guarantee carbon is locked away she said.

Giving $100-120 dollars to a certified carbon sequestration scheme would be easy. A one-off payment and my carbon problem is wiped.

It was only after talking with my friend and mentor Andrew Mahar, that I’ve decided how to discharge my climate responsibility.

As an inspirational leader Andrew never shies away from tackling difficult social and environmental challenges. Currently he is supporting a multi-faceted social enterprise in Timor Leste (the recently liberated nation in the Western Pacific). Prior to this he set up and led Infoxchange, a highly successful Australian nptech social business.

The WithOneSeed initiative supports subsistence farmers in East Timor to reafforest their land. Donations from people living in industrialised countries to pay for trees and other essential support. Incomes rise and carbon is locked away. Knowledge transfer is occurring alongside this through education and technology programmes.

As soon I talked to Andrew, he laid down a challenge: Don’t limit the carbon you offset to what you’re generating through a single trip: what about the carbon emitted to support your everyday computing habits?

Much as I’d rather not think about this, it’s true. Immense quantities of pollution are caused by coal-fired power stations that feed the data centres owned by Microsoft, Facebook, nameless cloud providers and others. When we watch YouTube videos, listen to music and live our digital lives, we are contributing to global warming.

WithOneSeed have a handy App that can help anyone interested to determine how much carbon is emitted by their digital media habits (on phones and tablets at least).

The personal story from Andrew, and a better understanding of my daily data usage in context, has allowed me to zero in on a global issue all too easy to ignore.

So, I’ll donate to WithOneSeed to offset the carbon. Not just for my flight, but for my daily computing too.

As I get ready to travel back home to New Zealand, I’m thinking not only of what I’ll take back the communities I work in, but also about the unseen impacts of my personal technology choices. I guess that is what individual social responsibility is all about.

Do you know what impact your technology is having?

Acknowledgement: my trip to Washington DC is only possible with support from NetSquared/ TechSoup, @goodresearch, @nzdrug, and my fab partner Roz. My evolving storify is at: http://sfy.co/rPzq

Attending NTC in person, in Washington DC

Summary of NTC sessions highlighted in bright colours,

Over the past few weeks I’ve been pouring over the Nonprofit Technology Conference (#14ntc) programme.

Making choices about what to attend is a lot harder when attending in person, than it is when joining online.

A major obstacle when ‘attending’ the online version of the huge three day conference is not so much choice of sessions, but the timing. As the annual techfest is hosted in one large US city or another, it means the morning sessions start at a ridiculously, early hour.

Nevertheless I managed to catch some sessions when I’ve registered in the past. These have been both relevant and irreverent.

Somewhat fortuitously back in 2012 — in a this-is-meant-to-be-kinda-way — I watched NetSquared Vancouver co-organiser Elijah van der Giessen being interviewed in one of the conference intermissions.

Spurred by tales of learning, dress-ups and other mad-cap escapades, I set the wheels in motion to form a local Wellington #net2 network.

Skip ahead two years, my involvement in the NetSquared community is taking me to Washington DC.

The #14ntc conference (13-15 March) is secondary to the main reason I’ll be in town. Either side of the conference I’ll be workshopping, learning, chatting and plotting with fellow NetSquared ambassadors, other NetSquared co-organisers from across North America, and some of the TechSoup team.

After many conference calls, FB updates and online sessions, I’m really excited at the prospect of swapping notes with my fellow regional ambassadors Maria, Excel and Mel. We’ve lots to share about how tech/ web is being used by communities in West Africa, Central America, and Europe.

As well seeing the monumental sites in Washington DC, I’ll spend a few days in San Francisco on my way home. I’m particularly looking forward to chatting with the irrepressible Beth Kanter, on her home turf.

My trip is only possible because my wonderful partner Roz will tend to the home fires. I’m chuffed at sponsorship from @TechSoup, and support from my bosses at @goodresearch and @nzdrug.

If you want to see which of the 100- plus sessions I end up joining in, I’ll share a few pics and notes about what I do, see and hear. See my storify story or follow #SBinDC.

Sharing EYC unConference gems

Animated discussion about tech topics around table, at EYC unConferenceSpontaneous. Serendipity. These two words are still echoing in my mind from the wrap-up session of the Engage Your Community (EYC) unConference.

At our closing session last Saturday we asked all the co-learners to shout out words about the day. These ‘s’ words really did capture the spirit of out time together.

It may seem a terrifying prospect to start a learning event with a blank agenda. We didn’t know what would be covered. Who would talk. If people would jump in to learn together.

But jump in everyone did. There seemed barely a wasted minute. Discussion about using tech and the web for community was loud and continuous.

Included in the list of topics covered were Google tools, accessibility, basics of web design, responsive design in wordpress, Chalkle community learning and online collaboration. The full agenda is recorded on the front page of the EYC unConference wiki.

The final session was an experiment: we called it speed geeking. In a fast and furious session people learnt about wikis, blogging and URL shorteners.

The topics for this session were chosen through an impromptu voting exercise, and the ‘presenters’ volunteered to speak on the fly. The format had people moving every 10 minutes between the three topic tables.

Our motto for the day was that no burning question would go unanswered. We’ll have to await for the report on the evaluation forms people filled in to see if we achieved this.

As one of the co-organisers, I left happy. My litmus test of success was whether I enjoyed myself and learnt things, and seeing if people stayed until the end. I maybe biased, but I’d say all were achieved.

As for my own learning, I’ve already been following up on some links. These include to site monitoring services like site247x.com and WordPress emulator called Instant WorldPress, sadly Windows only.

Thanks are due to:

  • Andrena for her work coordinating everything
  • Our volunteers on the day – Keith, Eileen and Justine, all NetSquared Wellington stalwarts
  • Massey University for hosting us
  • Microsoft NZ and Wellington City Council for sponsorship support.

When we debrief about the event next week, our agenda includes the question of when to run another unConference. I’ll report back after we talk. If this is something that you’d like to help with, don’t hesitate to raise your hand.

EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014
EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014
EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014
EYC unconference, 22 February 2014EYC unconference, 22 February 2014

We’d love to add more photos to this album – get in touch if you’d like some help sharing.

Learning from language on the street

Concept map showing Wellington as a place to  "do" and " be" , in pictures

You’re likely to be a little surprised at some the language around you. That’s if you stop to pay attention.

Rushing around we notice a fraction of the words and messages directed toward us. It’s little wonder. Some estimates put the number of messages we’re exposed to everyday as high as 5,000.

Mostly we don’t stop to think about this. Not the individual words, nor meanings.

Last week, I got a chance to pause and reflect on the language we’re surrounded by. I was fortunate to attend a workshop at Webstock 2014 led by Liz Danzico called “Use Your Words: Content Strategy to influence behaviour”.

Our workshop leader — who who is part designer, part educator, and hails from New York — guided 20 of us through a day-long learning experience where we paid close attention to the language of Wellington city.

After discussing the way language can shape behaviour in many, varied and nuanced ways, the workshop participants where charged with closely observing and recording words in Wellington.

It was a revelation. There are lots of words! Big, small, subtle and bold. Language is everywhere. It was a joy spending an hour noticing just some of the many signs of the city. (The photos from my hour are available on flickr).

Once we were grouped together and sharing our perspectives on the language we’d found (both implicit and explicit), it was possible to read a narrative into the city that isn’t evident when you rush by. Or look at just individual words.

Each of the four groups who workshopped their ideas (using tools adopted from UX approaches to content strategy) revealed different hidden undercurrents or themes.

I was delighted at the conversation about Wellington that emerged from team Headquarters of the Verb. Not only did we reference creativity and nature, but also participation and giving. You can see the concept map we created above.

Even if we didn’t talk at length about the mechanics of websites, the learning Liz facilitated has application. Two main things remain with me:

  • be alert to hidden, unintended meanings of language
  • take time to see your city, site or user experience from a fresh perspective: turn things on their head (so to speak).

As I’ve long been interested in place-making (particularly as advocated by David Engwicht of Creative Communities), the stretch from observations about the city to the web were entirely credible (if not somewhat unorthodox). Liz referred to the Project for Public Spaces, whose examples reminded me of heated discussions about situationalist tactics from my protest days.

Will I pay more attention to language around me, everyday? Probably not. However, I can see myself being attentive to unintended meanings, associations and language at particular key junctures of web content projects I’m working on. And I will definitely stick to one of Liz’s parting shots: “Get outside your comfort zone”.

Resources

Use Your Words: Content Strategy to influence behaviour presentation by Liz Danzico. She’ll also share details of her Webstock talk via an article with video. (I’ll add a link when this is generously shared.)

Designing for Behavior Change (2013) by Steve Wendel

What’s on the EYC unConference programme?

A wordle that captures essence of 2010 unconferenceAn unConference is unlike your everyday conference. Until the day, we do not know the details of what is going to be covered.

The programme is co-created by participants at the beginning of the event. Everyone attending can run a session.

These can take a myriad of formats: presentations, case studies, interactive workshops or even inviting others to respond to your particular challenge or problem.

While there is not a pre-determined agenda, there is a structure and a theme. At the EYC unConference, on Saturday 22 February at Massey University’s Wellington campus, we’re splitting the day into five sessions, each 50 minutes long. There’s difference spaces available for each session.

Our theme is: finding and using the best of what the web has to offer for people working to make the world a better place.

It’s a crazily broad topic which could touch on everything from resizing images, creating mobile apps, database selection through to high level social media engagement strategy.

Ahead of the event, people registering will have chances to share ideas of the specific topics they want to cover.

Ideas are already bubbling away. One of our co-organisers wants to run a speed geeking session: he envisages people rotating around 3-4 rapid fire presentations on essential web tools and skills. As we’ve access to a theatrette at Massey University, we could open the doors for people to share a favourite #nptech video.

Feeling a little uncertain about participating? Here are some ideas from Scott Berkun in 2006 about “How to run a great unconference session”.

Presented with a blank agenda, along with gentle encouragement, people don’t actually run a mile. They dive in. I’m sure it’ll be the same again next month. Come along.

Register now!!!

Engage Your Community (EYC) unconference, Saturday 22 February 2014

Details at: http://eyc-unconference.wikispaces.com/
Registration just $30 per person: http://engage-your-community-unconference.lilregie.com/

Organised by Wellington ICT in partnership with NetSquared Wellington and Massey University.