Time is flying down here in Austin. I have really enjoyed some panels, and others are just average. In talking to a few other attendees, we are noticing a level drop in the panels. They are catering to more of the lower level attendees. One of the reasons that I loved this conference is it made me think; I enjoyed going to things that are over my head. Attending panels like that pushed me. This year, it hasn't been that way. There have been three new sessions that I have enjoyed in days 2 & 3 based on their presenters. The first is the danah boyd keynote, the Clay Shirky presentation, and the WomenWhoTech discussion.
You can read danah's entire presentation on her site so I am not going to rehash it for you. What I got from it is, as your nonprofit is wanting to develop its own social networking platform, you should take into consideration privacy. I can think of several organizations that DO NOT have opt-out features. The consultant's that they have hired have convinced them that they do not need them. (Do not hire a consultant that does not understand privacy rights please. Please, for me, just don't do it.)
danah also confirmed that privacy is still important as well, "no matter how many times a privileged straight white male tells you privacy is dead, it is not true". She may have taken it to extremes in her examples, but we still value our privacy. Anyone who has been to my Facebook presentations knows about my crazy privacy/permission levels. I value telling people what I want them to know, and keeping the rest between me, myself, and I.
Some of you may remember my last post on Clay Shirky when he spoke at another event I was at. Clay impressed his audience by wearing a three wolf moon shirt, which he did reference in his presentation. The main idea I got out of his presentation was: "Find the person with the big ideas in your organization, lock them out of the building, and then tell them to come back when they have 10 medium ideas and lots of small ideas. The organization can't just have one great idea, it needs lots of different sized ones to survive. Once you have tried out the ideas, take the ideas and stuff that works go public about the successes. " I hope more places will start to think like this!
The last panel I want to talk about is the WomenWhoTech session which was awesome. The women on the panel shared some of their experiences and then led the audience in a discussion. The big point that stuck with me is you don't have to be a "expert" at everything. One panelist said that instead of trying to be that "expert" you should: "...view it as 'this is what I am passionate about and my goal is to embrace it and get better. It is your craft and you're am getting better at it everyday'". I really liked her point there. We tend to, as women, try to be perfect and then beat ourselves up for not being. I know I do that all the time. To turn that into a positive, own how you are now and improve upon that.
The last thing about that panel that rocked is there were men that attended. One gentleman spoke up and said that he works as an image consultant and mostly with women. For him, it was extremely enlightening to hear what women in tech are going through. We must give props to the few males in the room; especially those that contributed to the conversation.
The days here in Austin are all running together and being posted somewhat out of order. Joel and I are starting to pack up tonight as we head back to DC in the morning. I will hopefully get to write about today's events in more detail while we are traveling. For something else to read, you can check out the reference to my husband in the Huffington Post!