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NTC Wrap-up

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NTEN hosted a record breaking 2000 people looking to be more effective in their use of technology to support good causes in D.C. last week. I wasn’t one of them.So, why the wrap-up? Because the NTC (Nonprofit Technology Conference) is such a big event in my life that, even if I skip it, it doesn’t necessarily skip me.

Let’s get this out of the way first: Thank you so much, NTEN, for the award. And great thanks to all of my nptech peers for the kind words and overdone Star Wars references here — I think my 11 year old enjoyed the video as much as I did (although he dozed off during the part where I was talking). And a whole level of thanks to my dear friend Deborah Finn, who made sure that anyone within a ten mile radius of someone who knows what “NPTech” means heard about my award (and Deborah hates awards!).

Winning an award is great. Even better is knowing that personal efforts of mine to increase NPTech awareness of good technology and beer carried on undaunted in my absence. Carie Lewis, David Krumlauf and Jenn Howard possibly doubled attendance at the Pre-NTEN Beer Bash. Track Kronzak and a host of smart people pulled off the second Tech Track to good crowds and reviews. Look forward to an even bigger bash on April 2nd, 2012, on my home turf in San Francisco (official conference dates are 4/3-5), and Judi Sohn has stepped up to the plate as organizer for the 2012 Tech Track (now you’re officially on the hook, Judi).

Feedback on this year’s conference has only served to reinforce my opinion that we need to do more outreach to the technical staff at nonprofits and bring them more into the mix of fundraisers, web developers and social media strategists that make up the NTEN community. The tech staff attending are looking for deeper conversations, and it’s a challenge to offer beginning and advanced topics when the techie attendance (or perception of same) is still moderate to low. It’s a chicken and egg problem: it’s hard for a Sysadmin or IT Support person to look at session after session on using Twitter and 4Square and then explain to their boss why they need to go to NTEN. But the crowd-sourced session input is dominated by people who find subjects like virtualization and network security kind of dull. I might find myself challenging NTEN’s session selection methods this year, not in an attempt to hijack the content, only to make it more democratic. Nonprofit technical staff need a technology network, too.

See you in 2012. I won’t miss it!

Why I Won’t Be At NTC (And Why You Should Be)

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As a happy, active member of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), I’ve made a difficult decision: family and work commitments are too high this year to afford a trip to DC and NTEN’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). Since most of my family and pretty much all of my wife’s family live 1,000 to 3,000 miles away from us, visiting takes up a lot of the vacation time I get. NTC is, to my mind, a marginally work-related activity, in it that I do bring resources and knowledge back to my employer every year, but the bulk of what I get out of and go to NTC for isn’t all that work-related. Because, let’s face it: NTC is the best party of the year, hands down. And I’m far more likely to be imparting info there, and engaging in what I call my “extra-curricular activities” than focusing on Earthjustice-related topics.

What am I going to miss? Oh my word.

      For me, the fun begins about a day before the conference does, with the annual

NTC Beer Bash

      (that Carie Lewis will be organizing in my absence) kicking the conference off. Established two years ago, we get 30 to 50 of the early arrivers together at the brewpub with the best selection of craft beers we can find together and kick off the socializing early.

Day of Service. Another pre-conference tradition, the Day of Service links nptech professionals with local charities for four hours of expertise sharing and volunteer activities. There’s usually some big project, like installing wireless at a community center, and many opportunities for smal consulting sessions.

The Tech Track. Started last year, the Tech Track is a selection of breakout sessions designed for the people that do what i do for a living — install and support the technology that, in turn, supports the mission. NTC is a great place to develop a social media strategy or learn the latest online fundraising techniques, and it’s now also a reliable source for solid advice on how to virtualize your server room or move the whole thing to the cloud.

Holly Ross and the NTEN Staff. Simply put, Holly + Co are to nonprofit technology conference planning as Buffy and the Scoopy Gang are to vampire slaying. They not only nail it, but they do it all with wit, humanity and style. NTC is the best tech conference. Period. And that’s completely attributable to the brilliant work NTEN does combining awesome people, great knowledge, and a wealth of activities into three days of absolute fun. As I always say. you can’t go to NTC and not meet people. I make new friends every time.

Sadly, my ambitious agenda at work and some family matters have left no room for my favorite annual event this year. I’ve made the last six and I intend to be at the next six. So go and have a great time for me!

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.

Where I’ll Be at NTC

Five days from now, the Nonprofit Technology Conference starts here on my home turf, in San Francisco, and I’m hoping to catch a few seconds or more of quality time with at least 200 of the 1400 people attending. Mind you, that’s in addition to meeting as many new people as possible, since making connections is a lot of what NTC is about. So, in case you’re trying to track me down, here’s how to find me at NTC.

Saturday — I’ll be home prepping, on email and Twitter, and then off to Jupiter in Berkeley (2181 Shattuck, right at Downtown Berkeley BART) at 6:00 pm for the Pre-NTC Brewpub Meetup I’m hosting. We have a slew of people signed up at NTConnect for the event. If you’re coming, get there promptly so you can help me reserve adequate space!

Sunday morning is Day of Service. I’ll be advising a local education nonprofit on low cost options for enhanced voice and video. NTC kicks off with the Member Reception, and I suspect that there will be lots of talk about our book at that event – if we’ve never met, this will be a good chance to figure out which of the 1400 attendees I am.

The Science Fair – NTEN’s unique take on the vendor show – is always a blast. If you’re at a booth, I’ll be coming by, but I’ll also be spending some time manning the Idealware booth, so that’s another good place to catch up. Dinner Sunday? I haven’t made plans. What are you doing?

Monday I keep busy hosting two sessions:

At 3:30, I’m at a loss, with excellent sessions by Peter Deitz, Allen (Gunner) Gunn, David Geilhufe, Dahna Goldstein, Jeff Patrick, Robert Weiner and Steve Wright all competing equally for my attention. If Hermione Granger is reading this, perhaps she can help me out.

On Tuesday, my tentative plan includes these breakouts: Google Operations: Apps and Analytics; Evolution of Online Communities : Social Networking for Good; and Measuring the Return on Investment of Technology. I caught a preview of the last one, led by Beth Kanter, at a Pre-NTC get together we did at Techsoup last month; it’s going to be awesome.

As a local co-host of the 501 Tech Club and a member of this year’s planning committee, I consider myself one of your hosts and am happy to answer any questions I have about what there is to do in the Bay Area, where I’ve lived since 1986. The best way to reach me is always on Twitter – if you’re attending the conference, following me, and I don’t figure that out and follow you right back, then send me a quick tweet letting me know you’re at NTC and I will (although, disclaimer required, I will quickly block people who use Twitter as a means to market products to my org). If you haven’t already gotten this hint, Twitter is an awesome way to keep connected during an event like this.