Notes from NTEN – changes to our convention

I’ve often referred to Eric Raymond‘s, “Conventions at Light Speed: What Hackers Can Learn From SF Fandom” as having several suggestions that could enliven our conventions and make member-to-member connections easier. [The itch I’m particularly scratching is the memory of 2001 when I had breakfast with someone I hadn’t met before. It was weeks later when I found out that she had also been appointed to the Association Program Development Committee. We both new of our own appointments, but the member-member communication was so shaky we weren’t able to take advantage of that “once every two years” face-to-face meeting. Yeah, there were other governance reasons for protecting that info, but it screams for better solutions.]

In any event, I’m attending the Nonprofit Technology Conferences — www.nten.org/ntc — back at the Omni Shoreham where we met in 2005. There are a number of similarities (just about the same number of attendees), but as for the differences –

  • Vendor exhibit compressed into one time period: 3-8 the first evening. Buffet food provided. Seemed much better attended and allowed folks to connect with the vendors and set up more in depth meetings during the rest of the conference.
  • Their version of Convention Daily was slipped under the attendees’ doors about 7:30 am. It was more simply printed – black and white, stapled.
  • “Affinity Group” meetings – cf. our SIGS and caucuses – were scheduled the first day in regular breakout session time slots. I believe we could use this kind of organization much better, and having the face-to-face would help.
  • An award ceremony recognized about two dozen individuals. Could we steal time from that 21st century recognition program (or use its time in 2009 and beyond) and recognize our *members* for their work, particularly at the local level? A few categories, a collection of names, a few pictures — the slide show to back up the funny-hat recoginition is done.
  • It’s only 3 days! Day 1 is focused on networking, there’s a 4th day that’s a geekout (and not quite connected). But conference that requires 5 night stays is madness.

There are differences of course –

  • Almost everyone attending has a professional interest in the topic – revamps the funding. [Though I think we can do a better job of getting the message out to new members on why attendance at convention is so important. Particularly this year, it appears that the governance is so important, I’ve bumped into a branch president who thinks that branches support someone’s attendance primarily so that person can be a delegate. With so much information waiting to get taken back to the branches, I think that’s a shame.
  • It’s an annual conference.
  • There might be a board meeting tucked away somewhere, but though I’ve been a “member” of the organization for a few years, I’ve no idea how they are governed and there’s certainly no “business meeting” on the agenda.

It’s only day 2 of the 3 day conference. I’ll post more …

1 thought on “Notes from NTEN – changes to our convention

  1. One big difference — the number of attendees is comparable to the number of members. That means many of the participants are from outside the organization.

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