Tag Archives: conferences

Meeting #net2 organisers on the Gold Coast

Exceptionally dark clouds threatening rain over Gold Coast towersThere is nothing better than sitting down, face-to-face to enthuse with other community organisers about things like nonprofit technology, running dynamic meetups and the state of the world.

Add to this a beach vista, ocean breeze and warm temperatures. Then throw in Australia’s largest nonprofit technology conference.

This is what NetSquared co-organisers in Australia and New Zealand will be doing next week.

Fresh air and walking workshops are the order of the day as co-organisers meet to learn from each other about how to run thriving NetSquared networks in their respective cities.

We’re meeting at the northern end of the 57 kilometre beach which runs past the Gold Coast in Queensland. We’ll join over 300 participants at the annual Connecting Up conference.

A highlight of the two day event is a keynote by former #net2 Portland (OR), London, and NYC organiser, and now CEO of NTEN.org, Amy Sample Ward.

Attending the conference will be an opportunity to tell many people about what NetSquared is all about. As well as promoting participation in the active networks, another aim is to encourage co-organises in other cities to step forward.

The co-organisers participating are:

The meet-up is one of other similar upcoming events aimed at strengthening the NetSquared movement. These are happening in:

  • Latin America with Maria Zaghi of NetSquaredGT
  • Pacific Northwest with Elijah van der Giessen of Net2Van
  • UK and Europe with Mel Findlater of Net2Camb Cambridge Net Squared, TBD
  • East Coast USA with Judy Huntress Hallman of NCTech4Good

You can expect to hear back from us not only about the invigorating strolls, but also about how NetSquared will continue to grow and evolve in our part of the world.

Three cheers for support for NetSquared from the awesome folk at TechSoup and Connecting Up!

Photo credit: paul bica

More revolution, less retrospection – from the conference floor

Multi-coloured diagram setting our literacies, etc covered by Howard Rheingold in "Net Smart"I got the impression from some people attending the Connecting Up New Zealand conference last week that they wished the genie would quietly slip back into the bottle.

The torrent of opportunities and demands unleashed through the web is just too much. Could we just return to the uncomplicated days pre-Facebook, pre-twitter, pre-everything web!

This attitude was most evident in a keynote address by fundraiser and management consultant Kitty Hilton. Enumerating the many sins of an always-on, always connected world, Kitty emphasised the many bugbears she has with new-fangled technology (sigh).

Truthfully, deep down, I am not surprised by such views. Yet I still feel dismayed when I hear them. Here I am, listening to a bunch of prejudices at a supposedly forward-looking community technology conference.

The murmurs of agreement at Kitty’s outpouring suggested not everyone is taking the disruptive nature of the web in their stride. Admittedly it takes a fair bit of effort to get your head around the changes being wrought by an increasingly networked world.

Since I got home I’ve been thinking and talking about what will help people to grapple with the transformation going on screens around us. I’d suggest stepping back from the ever expanding flood of tools and the early adopter success stories to consider the underlying dynamics.

I’d probably skirt around to the classics, such as the “The Cluetrain Manifesto”, “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything” or Clay Shirky’s “Here comes everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations”.

Instead I’d jump straight into “The Networked Nonprofit” by Beth Kanter and Alison Fine (see my review from December 2010). It’s a helicopter view of the social media enabled, hyper networked society for good causes, with the configuration of tools left to others. Some two years after its release, Beth continues to share the concepts in the book around the globe, most recently in Pakistan.

As well as an understanding of the web world, Beth’s work supposes a set of literacies for getting by online. Without them the internet sweeps people away, time and time again, as if relentlessly dumped by breakers pounding into St Kilda beach. Rather than being knocked over by the incoming tide, we need to develop skills and knowledge to stand firmly.

A starting point for understanding the literacies required to thrive online is neatly provided by online denizen Howard Rheingold. The insights from this 64 year old virtual community pioneer are more than enough to start with.

Captured within the 272 pages of “Net Smart”, released March 2012, is a set of interlaced literacies we need to hone. These are: infotention/ attention; crap detection (after Ernest Hemingway); participation; collaboration; and network awareness.

I’m finding even a jaundiced long-time internet addict such as me can learn from Rheingold’s approach. Of course, you don’t necessarily need the book, which I’m reading on my Kindle, as you can go online to find a tonne of stuff from Mr Rheingold, including articles, videos and even course curriculum.

It’s taken a few good sleeps and being back at my desk to put two and two together. Pondering out loud, I wonder if people could gain more control of their organisation’s online presence by understanding the networked environment social media operates in, along with the practical literacies needed to thrive.

I’ve already dabbled a toe in this pond. Last April I ran a workshop that touched on some of the material Rheingold so adroitly outlines (see the notes from my Harvesting information online workshop).

The next time I meet on the topic of community and ICT, I’m hoping we’re not dragged into wondering if a free and untamed web is a good thing. I’m much more excited by the idea of discussing topics raised by reporters such Wael Ghonim in “Revolution 2.0” who believe that the power of the people is greater than the people in power. Lets shift the focus forward, and ride along the wave of this ever so unruly medium.

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.

Back from Webstock 2010

If the web industry in the USA is anything to go by, there doesn’t seem be a recession. Of the dozen or more speakers from Silicon Valley at Webstock conference not a single one mentioned anything to do with an apparent economic downturn.

Job losses? Shrinking incomes? Not in start-up land.

Indeed we heard about the almost near miraculous opportunities on the web to sweep people from humble obscurity to being super software stars (and still be nice, humble guys).  The pattern of exponential growth on the internet was unchallenged. Reverence for the market is undimmed.

Not wishing to dwell on the downside, these start-up dudes couldn’t really give me the magic answer to how much comes down to hard work, and how much to sheer luck.

The talks didn’t stay on the prosaic level of tips and advice for wannabe software giants or examples of excellent websites/ design/ online community (eg Brooklyn Museum). Once again this year’s crop of thinkers swept us into the future, or somewhere.

I’m not sure what Regine deBatty’s job title is, but her major occupation is reporting on art galleries and installations. Loads of them by the looks from the we make money not art website. Her lateral challenge to participants was to don’t assume you really know what interaction is for everyone. Look again.

Someday virtually everything will be part of the a networked environment, so Adam Greenfield told us. Today we might just have Snapper cards, CTV cameras, eft-pos machines parking meters, displays, cellphone towers, weather gauges and other assorted devices hooked to the network in our urban areas, but in the future many more things will be connected. The chair you’re sitting in perhaps?

Doubtless this will have implications for civil society and the public sphere. This will likely creep up on us whether we choose or not. (Read more Cheap as chips – your networked chair” from the NZ Herald.)

If all this sounds rather grave, thank goodness for the bright yellow yoyos shared with everyone by conference sponsors Intergen. Tactile, non-networked, something my children can play with, without breaking (so far).

Once again, Webstock was a revved-up, idea fest. Not sure where all the web stuff is taking us, but I still want to be a part of it as long as we turn it to social good.

Update (14 March 2010): I spoke too soon. Yesterday Elsa broken the yoyo.

Coming soon: community ICT events in Wellington

It’s a busy time in the community ICT world here in Wellington. I thought I’d share details of some of the things that are happening soon.

  1. e-day, 12 September 2009: annual collection of unwanted computers and other electronic equipment (or e-waste as it’s known in the trade). There is a drop-off point in Wellington, one of 30 sites around the country.
  2. “Online and off to the future” Parliamentary breakfast talk, 7.30am 16 September 2009: The effervescent Doug Jacquier, CEO of the social enterprise Connecting Up Australia, will be talking at the ComVoices breakfast hosted by Metiria Turei, Co-leader of the Green Party. Details available from emma [at] ideasshop.co.nz
  3. e-rider learning lunch, 12pm 16 September 2009: Find out how Living Streets Aotearoa (LSA), who use e-rider services, are using CiviCRM software to help manage members, contacts relationships and more. 
  4. Engage your community, 12 and 13 November 2009: The highly successful conference is back. This time day one will feature an array of excellent speakers, then on day two six half-day workshops on a range of web-related topics are offered. I’m running a workshop under the moniker “Getting the quality website you deserve”. More details coming soon.

Hope to see you at one or more of these events.

Is Michael in the audience today?

I’m sitting in the audience at the National Technology Conference being held in San Francisco. The presentation I’m attending is on “Why the donate button isn’t enough: designing program-centric appeals online”.

When I say I’m in the audience, I’m not actually there. Instead I’m part of the global audience viewing the workshop online. With a limit of 1,400 people (wow!!), not everyone who wanted to attend the conference actually could. So NTEN, the event’s organisers, have provided plenty of ways for people to see at least a few sessions.

The session I’ve joined is the last of the live webcasts: live video with shots of the presenters and questions from other attendees.

There are about six sessions available free as webinars (a audio presentation with slideshow). These are covering topics such as open source constituent relationship management software, integrated mobile advocacy and online fundraising, program-centric appeals online and cloud computing. An archive means these are available after the event is long over. Plus there is live blogging – a bit like hand-written scrawls on your notepad, but shared online.

On a more face-to-face level I’ll catch up with Michael Woodcock, Marketing Manager at NZFVWO, when he gets back from the Conference. Over the past 18 months I’ve been intermittently sitting next to Michael and having many conversations about ecological sustainability, peak oil and the like. I’m wondering if he’s in the audience today – I’m waiting to hear a kiwi accent chime in during the Q&A session.

Michael’s been promoting the TechSoup program since it launched in Aotearoa last June with a positive response. He’s in San Francisco to meet with others running TechSoup programmes around the planet – in 23 countries and more coming.

Here’s a short interview with Michael the day before he headed over to San Francisco (apologies for the sound quality). I asked him buy a me copy of the recently released book “Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission: A Strategic Guide for Nonprofit Leaders”.

Michael Woodcock interview, 23 April 2009 from Stephen on Vimeo.

After he gets back I’ll do a longer interview and post it here as an audio file. Back to the session about “Why the donate button isn’t enough”……

Update 29 April: I forgot the mention that fellow kiwi and another greenie Peter Davis is also at the NTEN conference. He’s blogged about the conference on the webguide blog.

Update 30 April: Michael has emailed saying he’s got a copy of the book I mentioned above and is hunting down an autograph for me. Feedback from the conference floor: a presentation by Eben Moglen, a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University, and is the founder, Director-Counsel and Chairman of Software Freedom Law Center was fantastic. Moglen received a standing ovation.