Monday, August 30, 2004

Report from the N-TEN Conference

We just had an internal brown bag to share our experience of the N-TEN San Francisco Regional Conference with other staff members. That reminded me that I hadn't yet shared here.

I heard four major themes:

  • Points of Pain: People wanted to understand the story behind the technology solution; they wanted to understand how they saw themselves in a technological solution. This seemed to be coming, mainly, from the folks who worked in organizations. Even in my session, on weblogging, there was a robust discussion on what problem weblogs were solving. People were interested in discussing how to push their own technologies to amplify their work but the point of pain was a starting place for the conversation.
  • Software reviews and comparison: Nonprofits/Techies need a guide to available software, a description of its function (remembering the points of pain) and a method for comparing it to other, like, software.
  • A Vision: We need someone to talk, not just about the immediate efficiencies and fixes of nonprofit technology, but a vision of where this field can go and the role of technology. This is, specifically, so that people do not become mired in what hurts and an "if it's not broken don't fix it" mentality. This is to identify organizations that can push out to the edge of technology and describe their success and, just as importantly, their failures.
  • Dialogs: People who do not normally interact -- developers, vendors and nonprofit program staff -- need a way of communicating to one another. A specific suggestion, during the Technology Tango session, was a Nonprofit Requirements Sprint. That is: bring together nonprofits in a particular sub-sector, find out what they need and describe it in technical language to appropriate developers.