NetSquared for Wellington?

NetSquared button: net2, with tagline share, build, collaborateThere is lots of great sharing going on at the monthly Wellington NGO webmaster networking events which got underway in November last year.

We’ve touched lightly on a heap of topics, and dug into depth on a few. Hot topics include choosing a content management system, email newsletter distribution options and analytics. At yesterday’s session Julian provided an overview of instant website builders Weebly and Google Sites – opinions were mixed.

Getting out from behind the computer to swap notes in person seems valuable for those that participate. What is obvious to me is that many more people could benefit from the korero. Plus the topics people touch on range far wider than just websites.

Watching the recent broadcast of the online Nonprofit Technology Conference beamed in from San Francisco I caught a short lunchtime interview with two local organisers of NetSquared networking events.

One of them was the enthusiastic and friendly Elijah van der Giessen who I conversed with at the Connecting Up conference in Melbourne last year. His vivid description of how the regular Net Tuesday Vancouver networking events really benefit NGOs convinced me to look into the net2 movement further.

Bringing together people with an interest in using technology to promote social benefits is at the core of NetSquared. It’s an initiative of the TechSoup software donation and capacity building organisation. They promote innovative uses of the web to help NGOs through challenges and events, along with support for loose, local networking events (called Net Tuesday).

Seeing all this makes me wonder if we could run NetSquared here in Wellington?

It would mean broadening the scope of the nascent webmaster network. This is probably no bad thing as few people in the NGO sector identify as being a webmaster. As well as those working in NGOs, Net Tuesday would be open to interested professionals, people going online for things other than websites (which is most people), and individuals with a passion for social justice.

NetSquared aims to support people “to connect locally with all those interested in the intersection of social technologies and social change”. This definition is a good description of what participants coming to the existing networking events are actually doing.

I like the idea of a network where the philosophy is centred on network members organising stuff for themselves. As well as a monthly Net Tuesday meet up (which I’ll happily convene along with any other willing organisers), people could run other events. NetSquared pay for a Meetup subscription to support spontaneous networking.

I notice in Vancouver there is a Salesforce sub-group. So webmasters or any other specialist group could keep meeting under a broader umbrella. And of course events could be run in weekends or over breakfast (no thanks!!).

When I raised this idea at the networking event yesterday, there were nods of support and a few good questions. I promised to canvas more widely before arriving at a conclusion.

So, Wellingtonians wanting to remix the web for social change, what do you think about the idea of setting up a NetSquared network? Your thoughts?

Update: the first Net Tuesday will be held on 19 June. Register and get update dates on NetSquared Wellington.