Tag Archives: #cu11

Connecting Up Australia conference wrap-up

We all know time is scarce and so are resources. When it comes to starting, extending or changing an ICT initiative there’s a temptation to dive straight in.

At the Technology leadership for the (sustainable) win workshop, run on the third day of Connecting Up Australia conference, NTEN Executive Director Holly Ross, was encouraging (or even urging) us all to spend some time upfront on strategy before jumping to the selection of a particular tool.

She wasn’t talking about a mega high level ICT planning, with a three year horizon. Rather strategy for smaller chunks of work. Things like recording client data to improve services, reaching new audiences, encouraging supporters to be more active, improving communication between branches or offices, empowering workers to access information while in the field. Things like this.

The important thing to do is start this before the project kicks off, before any choices of tools are made, and definitely before you ask for money.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the familiar sequence of starting with objectives, defining audiences, detailing what content is around, discussing indicators for measuring success and so on. It’s such a common framework it applies to everything, not just ICT projects. Yet even though this is so, so familiar, thinking through these things is a process that is too often bypassed or not done properly.

The discipline of strategy upfront is something that will improve the quality of virtually all projects. The benefit comes not so much from what is recorded on paper, but from being open to unstated assumptions being challenged. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, as the amount of effort going into strategy needs to be commensurate with the size of the project.

There were a couple of other speakers at the conference addressing topics related to project planning (including Michael Dovery talking about aroundyou.com.au, and Robert Samuel talking through Consult Point’s advice on selecting and justifying the right business technology). Generalising wildly, there was an emphasis at the conference on topics related to social media and the cloud, with hardware and systems almost entirely absent (something a few people noted as a gap).

I don’t know a lot about how Maree Ireland, from field, prepared for the Self-directed approaches blog she set up in 2009. However it’s obvious Maree has achieved many of the things she set out to: give a voice to people with disabilities using the self directed funding model, inform policy making, identify issues of importance to people out in the community and more.

This was an example of a super project reaching out to her audience needs, and how taking time to reflect on the project feeds into improvements. As I tweeted, “Initially no comments 🙁 Talked it over, realised new concept for audience, prob nervous like I was when I started writing -Maree.” After realising some of her audience may face barriers to participate, she took many steps to involve her readers.

If it’s not already obvious, I thoroughly enjoyed my six days in Melbourne. Thanks to the Connecting Up Australia conference organizers for once again making me so welcome. I’m looking forward to coming back.


When published, I’ll add a link to Holly Ross’s presentation and handouts.

All in a twitter at Connecting Up Australia

Tweeter Nictatt said "put a twitter name, or FB id or even QR code on everyone's name tags. Another way to connect"Now that they’re sweeping out the aisles at the Crown Convention Centre, all that I’m left is memories, screeds of scrawly notes and a heavily annotated programme.

Well, that’s what I would have written before Twitter. Even though I often wonder how many tweets I will see in the second half of my life (too many to contemplate), seeing how tweeting was used at the Connecting Up Australia conference gave me another glimpse of how powerful it can be.

Anyone online at the event could swap notes with others, give feedback, crack jokes, ask questions, and make contact. Those from afar could watch in by following the tag #cu11. I know this happened as I had a couple of messages from New Zealanders listening in asking about specific topics.

Watching tweets gives you a chance to get a sense of what people stand for, their interests and personality. From 140 characters on screen, you can arrange to meet others. Or invite people with a similar interest to meet next to the barista at morning tea (or something similar).

Twitter provides a layer of participation, in ways that passive listening doesn’t allow. During the more tedious parts of the programme (of which there were few) it’s possible to reveal in the twitter back-channel.

The dozens of tweets have not totally disappeared into the ether, as @HelloBehTeoh has created a storify narrative based on #cu11 tweets (see below).

Checking my stats, here’s the results (which I’m not sharing to show off, but to give an idea of the impact of tweeting in a setting I don’t find myself in everyday).

  • 21 pageviews of my workshop resources
  • 82 views of links to resources I shared
  • 35 new subscribers to my e-newsletter

Of course, this doesn’t mean anyone actually read them. Nor can the actions people took be directly attributed to what they read n Twitter, as visitors to my website would have seen other ways to read or engage with things I do.

A conference would be no fun if you didn’t have face-to-face spontaneity as well — chatting with people in the queue or over coffee — so I wouldn’t suggest privileging tweeting over real life interaction. It’s a supplement. As @nictatt suggested “put a twitter name, or FB id or even QR code on everyone’s name tags. Another way to connect”.

Of all the thousands of tweets I didn’t see or hear of anything outrageous. Really, truly I think it’s a useful supplement to other ways of connecting at conferences. If you haven’t tried it, you might like to be open to the suggestion if you get the chance.

Here’s the storify record from the Connecting Up conference: