March 29

Where I’ll Be At The 10 NTC

NTEN LogoIt’s T-9 days to the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference, put on with style and aplomb by the amazing crew at NTEN, all of whom I’m proud to call my friends and associates in the scheme to make nonprofits start using technology strategically.  This year we’re gathering at the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

I fly in Wednesday  night, where I’m planning to shamefully miss (again) the annual pre-Day of Service dinner and eat with friends at Ted’s Montana Grill. After that, I’m hosting what looks like an annual brewpub gathering at the Porter Beer Bar — come and join us!

On Thursday, I’ll start the day at the annual Day of Service, where I’ll be lending what expertise I have to the Feminist Women’s Health Center.  Length of consult pending, I’ll then pop over to the unconference on open data standards, hosted by Netsquared.  The easiest way to find me on Wednesday, though, will be to head over to the Science Fair and locate booth 63, where I’ll be manning the Idealware table, and talking about our new web site, the revitalized blog, and our first book, among other things.

For the main conference on Friday and Saturday, I’m leading a five session sub-track that we’ve named the Tech Track.  This is in service of my standard rant about our nonprofit community’s need to support the front-line tech staff — accidental or otherwise — who struggle through the hassles of crashed servers, mis-routed routers, cloud versus closet computing, so-small-you-can’t-see-em budgets, and the challenge of communicating technology strategy to peers and higher-ups who don’t consider technology as much more than fancy typewriters.

The Tech Track operates on a few principle tenets:

  1. The best NTEN Sessions are driven by peer discussion, not endless presentations.
  2. The outcome of this track should be the creation of an ongoing nptech community, in addition to whatever wisdom is shared during the conference.
  3. Every time a PowerPoint Presentation is created, a kitten dies.

Tag for the track is #ntctech. Joining me are Johanna Bates, Matt Eschelman, Tracy Kronzak, John Merritt,  Michelle Murrain, Michael Sola, and Thomas Taylor. Note that John or Matt will be subbing for Tracy on Session one.

I leave town on Sunday morning, so let me know if you’re looking to hang out Saturday night.  If you’re looking to hook up, and this isn’t enough info to find me, hop on the Twitter and dial me up at @peterscampbell there.
Category: nptech | 3 Comments
March 9

The Ethnic Check

Census_2001Yesterday I received a letter from the State of California alerting me that my Census form is due next week and that I should be sure to fill it out and return it, as is decidedly my intention. That form will include the page that drives many Americans crazy — the one that offers you a bunch of ethnic backgrounds that you can identify yourself on. As my spouse of African-Cherokee-Jamaican-German and who knows what else decent says, this is not a multiple choice question for many of us. Personally, I always check the “white” box, which is not lying, although I always have a nagging doubt that the Semitic parts of my genetic makeup aren’t fairly represented by that choice.

Today, skimming through my news feed, I starred this article by Michelle Malkin, passed on by Google Reader’s “Cool” feed, and I just found time to read it. The gist of the article is that Census filler-outers should refrain from allowing the government to peg us by ethnicity, instead choosing “Other” and filling in the comment squares with “American”. Take that, Gubmint statisticians!

Now, this is interesting, because while Ms. Malkin proudly describes herself as a Fox News Commentator, I don’t think this question lands on a liberal/conservative scale. Discomfort with being pegged by race straddles all ideological outposts, as it should. But data is data, and the ethnic makeup of our country by geographic area is a powerful set of data. If we don’t know that a neighborhood is primarily Asian, White, Black or Hispanic, we don’t know if the schools are largely segregated. We don’t know if the auto insurance rates are being assessed with a racial bias. We don’t know if elected officials are representative of the districts they serve. And these are all very important things to know.

It might seem that, by eschewing all data about race, we can consider ourselves above racism. But we can board our windows and doors and dream that the world outside is made of candy, too. It won’t make the world any sweeter. If we don’t have any facts about the ethnic makeup and the conditions of people in this country, then we can’t discuss racial justice and equality in any meaningful fashion. We might hate to take something as personal as the genetic, geographic path that brought us to this country and made us the unique individuals that we are and dissect it, analyze it, generalize about it and draw broad conclusions. It is uncomfortable and, in a way, demeaning. But it’s not as uncomfortable and demeaning as being broadly discriminated against. And without evidence of abuse, and of progress, we can’t end discrimination. We can only board up the windows that display it.

So, I’m not going to take Ms. Malkin’s advice on this one, and I’m going to urge my multi-racial wife and kid to be as honest as they can with the choices provided to them. Because we want the government to make decisions based on facts and data, not idealizations, even if it means being a little blaze about who we really are.

March 5

Blogging from my phone

Okay, I like to brag that I can blog from my Nexus One, but, until today, I’ve never done it. What’s different? I installed a beta version of Swype, an alternate keyboard that lets you type by dragging your finger from letter to letter on the keyboard instead of pressing on the keys. The software is very good at guessing what you mean, so you can move pretty quickly and still be reasonably accurate. It’s somewhat amazing, and a godsend for people like me who are used to having physical keyboards on our phones.

To join the Android beta, sign up here.

I’ve only had this installed for a few hours, and I’m already faster than I was with the standard keyboard. Swype boasts that trained users can hit 50 words per minute. When I get there, I might have to give up the laptop altogether.

Category: android, techcafeteria | Comments Off