I have not been blogging because I've been at the NTEN NTC Conference, the premier event for nonprofit techies taking place in San Francisco.
I've been coming to this conference for ten years now and it's a like a family reunion. I treasure the opportunity to spend some "face" time with treasured and respected colleagues who I only get to see here at this conference each year. And, of course, the opportunity to meet new people face-to-face.
The NpTech Community has been early adopters of social media and social networks like Twitter. We have a hashtag and many of us tweet to one another, leave comments on blogs or Facebook profiles regularly. So, while I may not see my colleagues face-to-face more than once a year, Twitter helped strengthen ties and created a sense of ambient intimacy.
The video above is the result of a brilliant online fundraising campaign that NTEN's executive director, Holly Ross, launched back in February to help raise $10,000 in matching scholarship money to Convio's scholarship sponsorship. The deal was if she raised the $10,000, the community could vote on her public humiliation. The winning option was to remake Beyonce Single Women video.
So, before introducing Clay Shirky, well known author of "Here Comes Everybody" as the morning's keynote, they played the above video. The sense of community and connection that I felt in the room, frankly, made me a little teary eyed. (In between laughing at Holly's swinging her hips). She got a rousing standing ovation and Clay Shirky said that he was working on his dance movements because she was a hard act to follow!
Unfortunately, there was a problem with the wireless, so not as many people were able to participate in the Twitter stream during the keynote (unless they had their own wireless like me or used their cell phones). NTEN had also set up a google application that lets people vote on questions which how they decided to handle the Q/A in a room of 1400 people.
Since I had access, I decided to start tweeting his key points out to my Twitter network. Chad Norman did a fantastic job at summarizing and blogging the key points. Read his "15 Clay Shirky Quotes That Blew My Mind"
Here's my quick recap of the Q/A:
What is the value proposition for nonprofits where people can organize themselves?
You matter, if you matter. The absolute value of expertise is exactly what it was. There is no change in knowing. The relative value has changed because of social media. Organizations have value in convening power. You have to bring people into proximity before they can start linking themselves up.
The big shift - convening power. Not just to deliver things to members, but be a platform where members discover each other.
Organizations also have staying power. Internet organizes for short-term shots. In the world of focused political organization, not as good long term. People can count on longevity - convening and longevity.
We're trying to figure out harness convening? What makes the convening work?
He doesn't have the secret recipe. There is no secret sauce. Failure for free. In a social environment and it is mysterious why one thing works or does not. Social network platforms are an example. Go where the people are already are - go where the people are. Poll your members where are they? If you don't know that you won't know where to go. Do a lot of listening.
The managerially culture is an issue. Honor the younger people in your organization. Understand them. Given how cheap technology - update where you sit in the current landscape. The secret sauce - know what your organization has a nature affinity for. With animals, we had nerve cells before muscles or bones. Handling information is a fundamental fact of life. When you change the information you change the way people deal with each other. Lots and lots of experimentation so this change can be made as good as it can.
What are the most important things not yet known about social media and its impact?
I'm not a futurist, I live the present. The role of emotion will be a huge part of the story in the next year. Recommendations and forwarding has a passive quality. As we get more social, emotion will drive it and drive it fast. The tools don't get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.
Meanwhile, Mike Edwards who was not in the room, did a social network analysis of the Tweets coming from the #09NTC hashtag. (Oh boy do I need a Social Networking Analysis for Dummies Glossary). He was inspired by Ethan Zuckerman's analysis of the Twitter stream of the recent Moldovan protest.
Some points that were really interesting in that the feeling in the room matched the conclusion to the data - that the NTC Crowd - which has been early adopters of social media - are a social crowd and have a strong sense of community.
Of the half dozen or so conferences I've been looking at, this is, by far, the biggest SCC I've seen. It indicates, to me, that this crowd is doing a LOT of replying and retweeting with each other. My guess, and it's only that at this point, is that #09ntc is a very social group, as compared to other conferences that are largely broadcast events (this seems to be what I've found from the 2009 Game Developers Conference, which had many more tweets coming from it, but a much smaller SCC.)
Expect light blogging for a while, but I do have a number of posts in draft ...:-)