Tag Archives: hui

No #net2welly website yet, but we have a plan

NetSquared Wellington website plan: very messy writing on whiteboardWhen I turned up to facilitate the “A new #Net2Welly website in an hour?” meetup yesterday, I was prepared to get stuck in with website installation and design.

I had hosting arranged with Crazy Domains, and checked they had WordPress ready to install at the push of a button. I’d already paid $14.95 for the net2welly.org.nz domain.

The plan was to work in small groups on different aspects of website development. I envisages people working at three or four tables covering: installation and set-up; graphic design; structure and content; and testing/ launch.

With only half of the 12 people who RSVP’d actually in the room — poor turnouts being one of the drawbacks of the informal meetup format — these plans quickly changed. It made sense to work as single group.

And we didn’t go anywhere near the control panel, DNS set-up or plugin directories. Instead, we arrived at the end of our hour long workshop with a plan.

Skipping the talking part of the process and essentially doing things on the fly would most likely have a led to a train web wreck. Maybe not fatal, but highly likely a site heading off the rails. Discussion what will be valuable our community and narrowing the focus are fundamental starting points.

As we started Alan Royal shared Rudyard Kipling’s timeless advice: “I keep six honest serving men (they taught me all i knew); Theirs names are What and Why and When And How And Where and Who.”

And that’s exactly what we covered: our goals, linkages with the big picture NetSquared vision, how would the website sit alongside other community IT initiatives in Wellington, who is the audience, what content could we easily co-create as volunteers, how will people interact, and what will it take to ensure the website is accessible to all.

Ultimately, we had to decide whether a website will be a valuable addition to communities in Wellington. After a round where everyone had their say, the answer was yes. Our goal is offer a virtual extension of our regular NetSquared Wellington meetings: part learning, part networking, part social.

As well as meetup and other event notices, we plan to share short posts about stuff we learn about using technology for social change. Maybe this is from a workshop or webinar network members attend. Or perhaps brave experiments with coding or online communication.

Anyone willing to abide by some simple community guidelines will be able to create and add a blog post. Brave stuff in a world where everyone constantly pleads they’re “busy, busy, busy”. Busy, schmbusy: we’ll give it ago.

Other ideas we’ll explore include:

  • a project space that could connect people with IT needs with those with skills to offer
  • a page with resources or sign-posts about essential, useful online tools and ways of doing stuff
  • sharing the good words and connecting people via a popular social network (or two).

First we have to build the website, something we’re due to begin together on Tuesday 12 August. Come along, all fingers and devices at the ready.

Even though we didn’t actually build the #net2welly website in the allocated hour, we’re off to a great start.

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

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.

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