The Evolution Of The NTEN Tech Track

My friends in the Nonprofit Technology Network know that I have been championing a resurgence in plain old tech talk at NTEN’s annual conference for a few years now. While “technology” is part of the organizations name, it’s seemed to translate to “social media” for the last few years, to the point in 2009/10 that it seemed like the social media focus of NTEN might overwhelm the nonprofit one — the NTEN conference was trending on Twitter and more and more social media mavens were referencing “NTC” along with “SXSW“. Meanwhile, the tens of thousands of staff and consultants that deal with servers, routers, wireless, Windows and virtualization at nonprofit oprgs were finding little of interest in the NTC session list.

So, in 2010, a group of us put together the first “tech tracK“. A subtrack of the IT Staff track of sessions, it included topics like Wireless Computing, Virtualization, Cloud Computing, Budgeting, and Change Management — the core things that IT staff are dealing with these days. The mini-track was conceived as a peer learning and community building subtrack. We eschewed Powerpoints and daises for a more informal discussion format, mining the attendees for both issues to discuss and expertise to share. It was a great success: five high-rated sessions with good attendance and a stated appreciation for the takeaways provided. In 2011, the Tech track was back (even though I didn’t attend that year) and was also a success.

So the 2012 NTC planning is well underway, and I’m declaring the ultimate victory. There will be no Tech Track this year. Instead, the IT Staff track definition has been narrowed to this:

IT Staff: This track is for staff and consultants who manage and support technology infrastructure. This is a resource-sharing track for all nonprofit techies, no matter how you arrived at your role, looking to share success stories, challenges, voice concerns, and glean wisdom from each other.

To my mind, this is how it always should have been — a fifth of the sessions dedicated to those of us who toil in the IT trenches, providing the tools, systems and platforms that enable mission-focused endeavors.

So now’s the time for you to speak up — if you’ve taken on the challenge of supporting your org’s use of technology, what do you need help with? What do you want to see on the 2012 NTC session list that you can bring to your CEO and say “send me to San Francisco, because this is information we need to know?” NTEN is seeking submissions for session topics. You can submit one without committing to present on it. The goal is to hear about what interests you, and they’ll match up the session submissions with speakers and/or facilitators later on. So, have at it! Click here to submit your sessions.

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2 thoughts on “The Evolution Of The NTEN Tech Track

  1. Mark Gillingham

    Nothing against social media or communication, but I need tech strategies. I applaud Peter’s effort.

  2. David Krumlauf

    Thanks for your efforts in making sure that the techies in the trenches making all things shiny work are represented. I’ve gotten a lot of your sessions in the past and am looking forward to many more! Oh, and the brewpub outing is okay too 🙂

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