February 4, 2009

Quick clicks from Tech: One last round

There's been some additional commentary from the Technology Conference posted online over the last few days:

- Twitter continues to be a big item of discussion, in a variety of ways. Lynn Morton at the SNAP blog had concerns about some aspects of the ASAE & The Center @Tech09 Twitter stream; Lindy Dreyer responded with some thoughts of her own, and Lynn responded to Lindy's response. (Still with me?)

Meanwhile, Maddie Grant provides a look at one slice of the Twitter activity during the conference, and David Patt points out that he'd be more interested in the Twitter posts from the conference if someone would repackage them in a more readable summary.

- Bob Blonchek has three posts in response to the conference: wondering why he didn't see more of an urgent desire to change the association status quo; discussing Chris Sacca's keynote and innovation; and thinking about associations that embrace disruptive technologies.

- Matt Baehr has a few reactions to the conference, as well as links to some materials he found helpful. Maddie Grant also posted the slides and a bibliography from the "Shiny New Web 2.0 Objects" session.

- In posts related to the conference's general session topics, David Gammel has a short definition of crowdsourcing and Jeff De Cagna talks about how association boards could be inspired by Google's 20 percent time.

Did I miss anyone? If I did, please drop a link in comments!

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February 2, 2009

More Tech Conf. Thoughts - Twitter vs. blogging

Have a few more thoughts coming from my participation in ASAE & The Center's Technology Conference -- here's one, more of an observation, really.

There were dozens of people using Twitter at the conference, leading to at least hundreds and hundreds of Tweets, and I wouldn't be surprised if the number reached four figures. Conversely, I believe we saw less formal blogging (I say formal because Twitter is sometimes described as microblogging) from folks.

Is this a sign of a migration, and if so, what does it mean? There are some things you can do with Twitter's 140 characters, but it's difficult to express a considered opinion or offer critical analysis under those constraints.

Of course, there could be other reasons, too. The Technology Conference Notes Wiki, for one, which exceeded participation expectations. But again, the design behind this was to offer notes, though users could certainly put in their own analysis if they wanted.

I'm concerned about losing the opinions and analysis... should I be?

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January 29, 2009

More Technology quick clicks

There are already some great responses to this week's Technology Conference being shared online:

- Jamie Notter of the Get Me Jamie Notter blog has a very thoughtful post on the themes he saw emerging over the course of the conference.

- Jeff De Cagna at the Principled Innovation blog discovered the Benjamin Button Paradox during the conference.

- Bob Wolfe wasn't able to be at the Tech Conference in person because of the ice storm, but he still presented at a session. More information on how he did that is posted on the Young Association Professional blog.

- Lynn Morton at the Social Networking for Association Professionals blogged live from the conference about leveraging social technologies.

- And definitely don't forget to check out various postings on Twitter--especially if you're wondering what the heck Twitter is all about. You can find anything posted to Twitter with the #tech09 tag here. (You can also see photos from the conference on Flickr.)

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January 28, 2009

The Twitter invasion

The Twitter virus has certainly infected Tech Conference attendees!

You can find out what people are saying about the conference by putting "#tech09" into the search box on this site. (I know there's plenty of other ways -- feel free to drop your favorite in a comment.)

Here are some of the interesting things people have said this morning, followed by a 30-minute grab -- showing all the times people used the "tech09" hash in a random 30-minute timeframe.

Note that today's general session speaker, Chris Sacca, tweeted about his keynote.

curtisraye: Learning about social networks for associations at #Tech09 Biggest mistake: Trying to jam the oversight job into the the IT dept's portfolio
about 1 hour ago • Reply • View Tweet

MissLynn13: Eye tracking is interesting, especially when you aren't a member. I think it helps give perspective. #tech09
about 2 hours ago • Reply • View Tweet

sacca: Really dug the energy at ASAE's #tech09. Talked with authors, teachers, technicians, hackers, speech and hearing folks, and even organists!

jheydasch: "u can't just start ntwrk and leave it @ that. you have 2 give ppl thngs to do once they arrive." if u desire success - @maddiegrant #tech09

julieohmchang: lessons learned: don't change the project manager mid-project! #tech09

ThomFlash: re: usability and architecture: yesterday's concept of using personas to put names and faces to segments of website users is great. #tech09
about 2 hours ago • Reply • View Tweet

MissLynn13: Framing, offer people an expensive alternative can increase sales to your mid-level products. #tech09
about 2 hours ago • Reply • View Tweet

And now the 30-minute section (and it was a slow 30-minute time as lunch and the exhibit hall were open).

annparker: I was just called a lounge lizard in the Conv Center. #tech09
2 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet

drewbsaunders: Chris @Sacca's keynote at #Tech09 surprised me: all about his years at GOOG. Fascinating stories, but would have liked more on his new work.
6 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet

maddiegrant: BTW - if you want a copy of the Association Social Technologies survey, go here Lindy & I worked on it! #tech09
17 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet

scottinmemphis: RT @maddiegrant: Scoop of the century: Charlene Li will be a keynote at ASAE Annual. U heard it here first! #tech09
20 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet

maddiegrant: Oh FYI Clay Shirky's speaking at Annual too. Whoo hoo! #tech09
20 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet

asaecenter: want to hear what is happening at the tech conference, follow Tech09 or search for the hashtag #Tech09 at
21 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet

anelet: I'm searching for _#tech09_ live on TweetGrid Search - #tech09
21 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet

ccollinsmith: Spoke w/ Rob Wenger & Andy Steggles re Higher Logic. Spoke w/ Jeff re ThePort & web strategy/audit etc. Will follow up w/ both. #Tech09.
22 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet

maddiegrant: Scoop of the century: Charlene Li will be a keynote at Annual. U heard it here first! #tech09
23 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet

ahissrich: RT :-) @sacca: Really dug the energy at ASAE's #tech09. Talked with authors, teachers, technicians, hackers, ..., and even organists!
24 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet

Tech09: only 45 minutes left to talk to exhibitors. Grab your lunch fast and hit up those booths you left to visit last. #tech09
27 minutes ago • Reply • View Tweet


SNIA Releases More Green Computing Resources and Draft Standards

As I continue to research green computing in response to requests at the ASAE & The Center’s Technology Conference that ends today, I’ve been alerted that the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Green Storage Initiative (GSI) released its draft "Green Storage Power Measurement Specification" for public review just last week.

According to the association’s GSI Technical Working Group, "this initial release contains a comprehensive Storage Taxonomy for classifying storage products, as well as a baseline standard for idle power measurement. Future releases will include an Active Measurement standard [and] procedures for auditing and reporting of results." You can download a copy here.

You might also be interested in the association’s downloadable white paper, released in October 2008, called "Best Practices for Energy Efficient Storage Operations," which gives guidelines for "leveraging currently available storage system features for reducing energy and power consumption." Among the topics covered—many of which have been explored at this week’s conference—are data and file de-duplication, virtualization, data compression, tiered storage, and solid state disks.

And finally, SNIA wrote an excellent article you can access free online at InfoStor Magazine called "How Green Is Your Storage?"


"Green" Ratings for IT Systems

Someone asked during the Green Computing session Monday afternoon at the ASAE & The Center’s Technology Conference whether any environmental standards exist for IT in terms of judging whether a technology system and its processes are truly “green.”

This morning I saw in the free e-newsletter that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is indeed in the process of creating an Energy Star rating for data center infrastructure. Goals for this new rating system, according to the article, include offering the recognized and respected Energy Star label “to data centers with a rating of 75 or higher (performance in the top quartile)” on a scale of 1-100.

You’ll find a PowerPoint presentation on this and EPA’s project to boost Energy Star Buildings by clicking here.

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Test, test, retest, and then retest again


Live blogging from the Tech Conference general session with Chris Sacca (former Google executive)…

One note – Google constantly asked, what does [insert name of project here] mean for the end user.

This brought to mind Gammel’s comment I blogged on yesterday: “Test the hell out of it.”

It also brought to mind the late session on usability I went to yesterday when Will Fisher from the American Speech Language Hearing Association said that ASHA staff in fact had no idea how or how often members used their website. He said staff thought members accessed it daily or at least a few times a week. The reality: a few times a month at most.

Back to Sacca again: “The art is in the hypothesis, but the most important part is testing it. We’re constantly testing across our entire user base of 800 million users to improve the experience they’re having.”

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Quick clicks for Tech

Good morning, and welcome to day 2 of the Technology Conference! For those of you who are with us in spirit (or those of you who are here and looking for some reading before this morning's general session), here are some links you may find interesting:

- Want to follow what attendees are posting from the Technology Conference on Twitter? Try visiting this page throughout the day, or Maddie Grant's more graphical Twitterfountain at the Socialfishing blog.

- Maddie also shares information on a crowdsourcing-based company she likes in response to yesterday's general session with Jeff Howe.

- Jeff De Cagna at the Principled Innovation blog re-posts a podcast interview he did with Jeff Howe a few months ago, based on Howe's book Crowdsourcing.

- Renato Sogueco posts some resources for his session on virtualization.

Some other tech-related (but not Tech-related) links:

- Cecilia Sepp at Association Puzzle has an interesting post on the implications of "defriending" in a social media context, and Bruce Hammond at Insights From a Future Association Executive wonders if it's a generational thing. On the Member-to-Member blog, Dana Theus examines 21st century social marketing.

- Jeff Cobb posts about the current state of e-learning in associations, as well as a roundup of e-learning tools and resources.

- David Gammel at the High Context blog reveals how one change to an e-commerce site made a $300 million difference.

- Dennis McDonald writes about the implications of the Obama administration for internet technology and government in the United States.

- Wes Trochlil is conducting a series of podcast interviews of CEOs from association management software companies.

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January 27, 2009

Three thoughts from three people

Rather than give you my highlights from the first full day of the Technology Conference, I decided to ask three different people to give me three thoughts off the top of their head.

Reggie Henry, CTO, ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership

-I think the general session was an ear-opener for folks. I could feel people get nervous in the room because the old-school business models, especially ours, is to sell information. What does that mean when others just give it away. I could just feel the fear in the room.

-The association community is full of troopers--the weather was bad, but they still showed up in great numbers.

-It always amazes me, though it shouldn't anymore, that the wisdom of the crowd carries these conferences. The questions spark at least as good a debate as the things the presenters prepare.

Elena Gerstmann, Staff Director - IEEE Corporate Strategy and Communications

-The sessions this year, and the attendees, are at a higher level than previous years. You can see it in the types of questions that people are asking, presenters aren't having to explain fundamentals as much. I'll be making revisions to the presentation I give tomorrow as a result.

- There was a question at the general session about user-generated content taking away business from the association, and I liked Jeff Howe's answer: We need to step up. We have to add value to our members. LinkedIn communities, groups -- these are our competitors.

- It's all about networking, who you sit next to in sessions, what exhibitors you talk to. That's the great thing about these conferences in the association sector, nobody's a competitor and people are nice and are eager to share their knowledge and tips and tricks so that everybody benefits.

David Gammel, President of High Context Consulting

- Be clear about the outcomes you want to create at the beginning of any process.

- Understand what measures will let you know if you are creating your desired outcomes.

- Experiment and test the hell out of it until you get it right. I think these things are coming through across multiple sessions here.


Tip for chapter technology

Was at the “Parent/Affiliate Relations: Sharing Technology With Component Organizations” session led by Linda Chreno of the American College of Phrebology and Suzan Yungner of the Urban Land Institute, at the Technology Conference and here was a tip I clarified with them afterwards:

If you as a national organization provides a fair amount or more of technology to your affiliates, then consider hiring someone whose job is to be on call to the affiliates for a fee. You’re essentially providing a technology consulting service. The chances are, they have someone they’re using anyway, or wish they had someone they could use, so why not have that person be familiar with the organization and its members?

The idea springs from ULI’s Orange County district council. They hire their own person, a paid intern essentially, to do their technology for them. ULI trains the person, just as they would for any affiliate, and then gives them access to all necessary systems for the district.

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Crowdsourcing is love

Another element of what Jeff Howe spoke about in this morning’s Technology Conference keynote speech on crowdsourcing is what he called “agape”—a Greek term used in some contexts to talk about familial love and, later, to denote communal love or what we might call “charity” today. As Howe put it, crowdsourcing "is an example of what agape does."

(See, I knew my religious studies major would come in handy some day!)

One attendee expressed concern that crowdsourcers were giving away their valuable intellectual property, and it's often true that crowdsourcing involves giving away something you could potentially sell. But as Howe put it, crowdsourcing stems from "people's desire to make something of meaning in their lives and have others recognize that meaning." In other words, whatever is being given away in the crowdsourcing process is actually gaining in value because it's becoming part of what the community is creating. Alone, I might have a single photo on my hard drive. Posted to a crowdsourcing community, that photo is something others can comment on, compliment, use, and learn from, and therefore of much greater value to me than it was just sitting on my computer.

It reminds me of a story I heard years ago--I have no memory of when or where. But the story was that a man came to a site where a large group of workers was building a cathedral. He asked one of the workers what he was doing, and the worker said, "I'm building a wall." He asked another worker what he was doing, and the worker said, "I'm installing a window." Finally, he asked a woman who was sweeping up some of the debris from the site what she was doing, and she said, "I'm building a cathedral for the glory of God."

(Hey, the power of Google comes through: It turns out this is a story from Robert Fulghum.)

Based on Howe's talk this morning, I think one of the keys to the success of crowdsourcing is that the members of these crowds are focused on building the cathedral, even as they're doing specific small tasks that don't seem particularly glorious. They're part of something bigger that they're passionate about. I'm guessing that crowdsourcing in associations can find its greatest success when we can tap into members' passion and make them see how what they're doing is part of that greater success.

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Jeff Howe's recommended follow list


There will be more from Jeff Howe’s general session on crowdsourcing later, but as he was signing books afterward, I asked him who ASAE & The Center members should be paying attention to if they wanted to know what was coming in the web/collaborative space. Here’s his response:

Clay Shirky

The NYU adjunct professor and consultant/speaker/writer is author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. Here’s a post from the short-lived blog devoted to the release of the book. In it, Shirky explains how the TV sitcom has saved the world. No kidding. And here’s a link to an amazing keynote he gave, it’s three years old but just as relevant today, maybe more so.

Yochai Benkler

For those with an academic bent, you can access all of Benkler’s technical articles at Benkler is the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard.

Jonathon Zittrain

Benkler’s partner in crime at Harvard, he’s the author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It. Here’s a blog post with one significant point made in The Future.

John Palfrey

Coauthor of Born Digital, and colleague of Benkler and Zittrain at Harvard. Access his blog here.


Crowdsourcing: Are we doing it wrong?

howe%20for%20blog.jpgIn today's opening session talk with Jeff Howe, author of Crowdsourcing (and the Crowdsourcing blog), one point that Howe made seemed to resonate with the audience: Quoting from his book, he said that "We know that crowdsourcing exists because we've watched it flourish in the wild. We've had a harder time breeding it in captivity."

And, of course, associations looking at ways to tap into the idea of crowdsourcing would be breeding it in captivity. So what can associations do to successfully "domesticate" crowdsourcing?

A few of the points he made seemed to be particularly germane:

- The technological aspect should be invisible, or at least as invisible as you can make it. Crowdsourcers should be thinking about the task they're trying to accomplish, rather than focusing on the technology.

- Be aware that the crowd will expect to have a voice to go along with its labor. Howe said, "To anyone who cut their teeth in online communities, democracy isn't a concept, it's a habit." Whenever decisions are imposed on the group from above, you'll be going against the grain.

- Howe called crowdsourcers "the coffee break labor force." In a lot of successful crowdsourcing communities, the tasks participants are taking part in are things they can readily accomplish over a coffee break--voting for the best t-shirt design, uploading a photo or a set of photos. It reminds me of an idea I've heard Cynthia D'Amour talk about--what she calls the 15 Minute Club, where an association lists tasks on its website that volunteers can easily accomplish in 15 minutes. Think in terms of small chunks of time.

- Focus on the community, not on yourself. Howe cited what he calls the "cardinal rule of crowdsourcing": "Ask not what your community can do for you; ask what you can do for your community." More specifically, he described the success of Dell's IdeaStorm crowdsourcing project; Howe said the project was successful because Dell focused on trying to do something for its customers instead of trying to get its customers to do something for it. If we focus our association crowdsourcing attempts on benefit to the association rather than to the members, we could be dooming our domestication effort before it begins.


January 26, 2009

The conversations we didn't have

I was at the Town Hall Meeting at the Technology Conference this afternoon (see a couple of notes I wrote on the session at the Tech Conference Notes Wiki). There were some good conversations about the role and level of tech personnel in associations, what types of things participants were spending their time and budgets on, and the state of backend systems available to associations. What I found most interesting, though, were the conversations that didn't happen.

This won't come as a surprise to those who know me -- and certainly not to anyone on the ASAE & The Center staff -- but I believe that associations are guilty of mission creep in massive proportions. They continually try to redefine their markets to encompass more. I think associations need tight focus to both who they're going to serve and what they're going to serve them. And, sacrilege above all, I think you (or more to the point, your board or key volunteers) need to tell members who don't like it that they are free to take a hike.

If you've read this far and don't know what exactly this has to do with the technology conference, thanks for hanging in there. I'm thinking I'm just dense, but I've been a proponent of serving that tight market with the tightly focused stuff you have in the broadest possible delivery scheme you can possibly offer. Those members want email, give them email. They want old-school threaded discussion groups, give it to them. Listservers? Give it. LinkedIn community? Set it up. They prefer video? Roll it! Audio? Podcast it. You get the picture.

I think I'm coming to the realization that this is too much, and we're asking too much of our staffs and our systems to handle this. What happens if the association just decides what tools it will use? If members want to use something else, let them. If it means they no longer value the association as a result, so be it. That does not mean be lazy! Use new tools, experiment, find ways that work for your association and be open for evolution. But don't get all flustered when a subset of members wants something else. Study it and decide if it's something you want to add to your arsenal or not. And I didn't hear these conversations today. I wonder if they will be in the sessions or hallways in the next couple of days.

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January 21, 2009

“Crowdsourcing” Takes a Global Stage

Associations have begun exploring how crowdsourcing can be used to do everything from create timely new products to boost member engagement to resolve global problems. But anyone watching CNN’s coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama Tuesday, January 20, also was witnessing one of the most public examples of so-called “crowdsourcing” ever displayed in the world—and I'm not talking about the almost 2 million people jammed into the National Mall to watch the event.

In CNN’s continuing experiment with crowdsourcing, the network sought to capture what it called “The Moment”--the exact time Obama was sworn in as the 44th U.S. President—in a multi-dimensional image created via thousands of photos emailed by people witnessing the event on the National Mall.

High-powered software overlaid and merged these images into a 3-D image of the swearing-in that allowed viewers and online visitors to its Web site to experience “The Moment” as they wished—zooming in on the faces of attendees, exploring the Obama family’s expressions, and “being there” at an event in an entirely new way.

In the past year, CNN has increasingly invited viewers to become “iReporters”—self-designated citizen reporters and photographers who are physically at a news event and willing to share and compile their stories and/or images on a designated Web site to create real-time, ever-changing news articles. Like some associations, the network has found this type of crowdsourced reporting an effective way to engage viewers, and it vets the e-mailed submissions, even broadcasting the best ones.

The swearing-in photo, though, was the first time CNN had tried crowdsourcing a single photographic image.

I’m confident that attendees at the upcoming ASAE & The Center’s Technology Conference will hear mention of CNN’s much-touted rollout of this amazing tool—and the powerful emotions and sense of community that crowdsourcing can ignite—when Jeff Howe, author of the book Crowdsourcing, takes the stage January 27.