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N-TEN DC Regional Conference

, Friday, October 14th, 2005

This week, Beaconfire co-sponsored N-TEN’s Washington DC Regional Conference, and as N-TEN’s former Executive Director, it was interesting to be there wearing a different hat (mainly because I got to spend the day in sessions and conversations, rather than worrying about whether everything was running smoothly.) A few take-aways:

  • Good turnout–around 200 people, I was told. (We had something like 120 at the first DC Regional in 2003.) This despite a conference theme (“Data Integration”) sure to scare off any techno-phobes. Nice to see some large orgs there, too. (Giving Beaconfire a little pat on the back, we invited the folks from the American Federation of Teachers, Goodwill International and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.)
  • Marty Kearns of Green Media Toolshed hasn’t lost his touch. Killer presenter with a great message about how the Internet is enabling collaborative grassroots campaigns. He has a concise list of the five elements that make this possible:
    • Strong Social Ties: People need to be bound together by something more than the campaign at hand. If they’re not, you need to create those conditions. Think fun. All work and no play makes campaigns boring and sucky.
    • Dense Network: People need to be active participants in a rich communications grid.
    • Common Story: People need to share in the narrative that runs through the campaign. This is more grassroots-y way of saying that everyone involved needs to have a set of talking points, an elevator pitch, that they can deliver without thinking. The difference, of course, is that they really mean it.
    • Shared Resources: People, computers, you name it. Forget traditional command-and-control structures. Think distributed networks. Think swarms of pajamahadeen.
    • Clarity of Purpose: KISS.
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