Tag Archives: conference

Some nuggets from #14ntc in Washington DC

Six NetSquare organisers at Einstein's feet.Advice from Alan Royal about what you can expect to get out of a training event is ringing in my ears as I sit down to write about my four days at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, in Washington DC, 13-15 March 2014.

As an energetic trainer with SeniorNet Welllington and life-long learner, he says that if you get one useful thing out of a workshop then you can be contented. Be delighted if you gain more, but nuggets are enough to make attendance worth it.

It’s this advice I’m thinking about now. Just what did I learn from #14ntc?

As a first timer at a LARGE-scale conference, it was actually possible to be too distracted to actually learn anything. The commotion was nonstop, natural light rare and choices seemingly limitless.

There were over 100 formal sessions to choose from, plus countless other impromptu talks and presentations. In an underground suite of trade halls, there were 147 companies of various sizes and types inviting interaction and a chance to sign-up.

With the 2119 other attendees there was no shortage of folk to chat with. Long lunches (a commendable 90 minutes) were followed later in the day by social functions hosted by one sponsor or another at nearby venues. Sadly, I missed the one at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Finding someone you were specifically looking for was near impossible. For instance, despite asking around I didn’t manage to meet the Australians attending from Perth and Sydney (though I would still like to say hi).

I was attending the conference as a NetSquared regional ambassador, so I gravitated to sessions that supported and promoted community-led, grassroots organising. Making time to connect with the many inspiring people involved was my top priority. Not only was the conversation interesting, but it was reassuring – the core of community organising seems to be the same the world over.

So, what are my top gleanings?

  1. Before publishing a single graph (or diagram), stop to consider if the implicit meaning is obvious. See the excellent, detailed presentation “#14ntcdataviz: DataViz! Tips, Tools, and How-tos for Visualizing Your Data” by Ann K. Emery, Johanna Morariu, and Andrew Means.
  2. Don’t obsess over choosing a Content Management System (CMS) for a website, instead work with someone that does the scoping/ investigation/ design phase right and trust them to recommend the best tools to fit. I really liked a three phase approach to development adopted by Freeform Solutions (Toronto), which focuses first on “establishing project feasibility” which includes coming up with a ball-park idea of what a website will cost.
  3. When doing training, think: Before, During, and After. And if training is something I want to do more regularly, then learn more about learning. See “Learn you will: interactive tech teaching from Jedi masters, plus session outline too!
  4. Investigate a more structured approach to monitoring website uptime, using services such as www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com or Uptime Robot. Also, set up alerts using Google Analytics to receive automatic notifications if visitor patterns suggest nefarious behaviour (eg traffic spikes because of a DOS attach). From the workshop “Welcome to the website emergency room: find and pinpoint problems when everything falls apart”.
  5. Stories, singly or collected, are powerful.
  6. Inspiring stuff is happening on my doorstep: projects, tools and apps being created in the coolest little capital Wellington, Aoteoroa New Zealand, are brilliant contributions to creating social change. These include: loomio – a new way of decision-making, chalkle° learning platform, and nznavigator online tool for organisational development.
  7. Make time, take time, to think differently. Can we please get away from describing things as problem this and problem that? Instead, incorporate into our design, developmental and communications work, insights from frameworks like Appreciative Inquiry that allow us to recognise and value strengths and what might be possible.

This last gleaning is prompted by a keynote presentation from Willa Seldon, a director of the Bridgespan Group, who challenged participants to “give tools to constituents so they can change their own lives”. She pointed to the web as a means of helping us with this.

It’s a challenge worth repeating. We’ve got to get beyond repeating the same old stuff that makes negligible difference to anyones lives. And once again, I notice that the disruptive kernel at the heart of the Internet can in fact help create vibrant, healthy communities where everyone thrives. Everywhere.

While everything I encountered at the conference was not immediately applicable, so falling short of Alan’s test, I got an enormous amount out of being around people for whom the tech is (mainly) subservient to the cause. It makes me optimistic that change is indeed possible.

See my other #14ntc blog posts:

Reflecting on climate change and #nptech
Attending NTC in person, in Washington DC
In other words, linking to the #14ntc
Nonprofit Technology Conference data related report, on Community Research website

My thanks to:

NTEN.org for bringing folk together; TechSoup Global for sponsoring my trip to Washington DC; the talented and caring NetSquared crew for being there for their communities; @nzdrug and @goodresearch for being super supportive employers; everyone who I shared a thought, conversation or smile with; and my family, who allowed me to set aside being a 24-7 family guy for a few days.

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

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.

Roll up: a few ICT events for NGOs

Huge room filed with hundreds of tote bags for a conference, by NarisaIt’s one of those things that follow a predictable, immutable pattern. At the start of the year there’s a slew of new conferences and learning events sprouting up. 2012 is no different.

Now is the time to start getting organised. Some will take just a trip across town, others across the sea. Some permission, others an early start.

The highly regarded webstock juggernaut has just rolled by, so that’s one registration fee you don’t have to try to find. The sparks and fizzes from the week long webextravaganza are radiating out. You can see a trace of the shining light via the ultra busy #webstock twitter hastag.

I’m not sure if there will be webstock videos, as there have been in previous years, but you can find a record of sorts through collectively prepared, scrawly notes. Anyone attending could jot down impressions, quotes and diatribes on a set of unofficial, editable webstock Google Docs, kindly created by to Miramar Mike.

When writing this post I noted there are just 44 and 56 free tickets left to Connecting Communities events being held in Christchurch and Wellington beginning next week. The sessions cover a broad range of topics from cloud computing to social media. There is an emphasis on getting organised through ICT planning. If I don’t see you at either of the events, you can catch-up on my impressions on this blog.

Register at:

Connecting Communities, Christchurch, Wednesday 29 February 2012
Connecting Communities, Wellington, Monday 5 March 2012

Technology planning will be at the fore of a series of workshops being hosted by Connecting Up Australia in mid-March. Respected NGO technology trainer and advisor John Kenyon will run workshops on “Technology planning essentials for nonprofit leaders” in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Hobart. Registration fees are a slight $A130.

You can get a taste of the ground John Kenyon will cover by taking at look at recordings of recent online sessions he’s run for Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). In November he ran a session “Strategic Planning and Budgeting for Technology” and last month I spent 90 minutes listening to his on “From Computers to the Cloud: Technology Essentials for Nonprofit Leaders” presenation. As the sessions are recorded, there’s no getting up early to sync with US time. Charges apply.

An event which starts at an ungodly hour, delivered over the internet is a mini version of the phenomenally big Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) that NTEN run every year. While there will be 1,700 people assembled at the San Francisco Hilton, 3-5 April 2012, a few folk will eavesdrop via an online version of the NTC. A selection of the talks are being offered as well as access to a super fancy dedicated conference social networking platform. No jetlag, no currency conversion hassles, just a matter of waking up at 3.30am for the opening session. Not sure if I’ll make it.

Once again the Connecting Up road show is slated to happen on 27 April in Wellington, 30 April in Auckland and 1-3 May in Sydney. Registrations for the Sydney Connecting Up 2012 event are open, with details of the New Zealand Connecting Up event coming soon.

The infectiously likable and zany Allen Gunn will be speaking again in Sydney. His participatory keynote was a highlight of the 2009 Connecting Up conference (see my blog post “Privacy concerns raised at Connecting Up 09 conference” and “So many ways to skin a cat” presentation, Connecting Up 09 conference”).

The one other event I can tentatively mention is one I will be definitely be getting up for. I’m adapting my Give your website TLC workshop for the computer screen. This will be offered along with another session as part of an online series for NGO website managers. Thee will be open to anyone interested from around Aotearoa. Details are due out next week.

Perhaps I’ll see you at one or other of these events: in person, or online?

Photo credit: Narisa

Privacy concerns raised at Connecting Up 09 conference

After a heated discussion about privacy at the Connecting Up conference, I headed off to the Apple Store to get a replacement power adapter. I’d left my one behind on the kitchen bench.

When I handed over my credit card to the young salesman he blithely asked if I’d like the receipt emailed to my commonknowledge account, or would I like a printed version. Or both.

What! I was astounded someone I didn’t know, in a shop I’d never been to had this sort of information. It transpires somewhere along the lines when I’d signed up to Apple’s iTunes store I must have agreed to this. And iTunes is linked into Apple’s corporate computer system, and someone somewhere is datamining all my (very small number of) purchases.

Obviously, I didn’t read the fine-print. And do I trust Apple with this confidential information? Must go and read their privacy policy.

The session on privacy, led by Californian resident Allen Gunner from Aspiration, showed that people working in community and voluntary sector organisations have strong views on privacy. And high ideals. Gunner used a participatory ‘crowdsourcing’ exercise to draw out opinions. It was great to see 200 odd people placing themselves on a continuum of agreement/ disagreement with his provocative statements.

I need more time to reflect on the substance of conference and have conversations with other participants, which I’ll write about later. You can get a sense of what’s happening by looking at the collectively written twitter feed, or the live video feed on the conference website.

On a lighter note, here are some pics of my trip to Sydney. I’ll be adding more during the next day or two.

Technorati Tags: