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So many ways to use technology, so many ways to learn at NCDD 2014

Past conference attendees* have approached technology for public engagement, dialogue, and deliberation in so many different ways:

  • Kira is hands-on and pragmatic, interested only in tools that fit into her work, today.
  • Bob’s a skeptic, so it’s tough to convince him that online technology can play a role in his work.
  • Ashante seeks technology that’ll make her dream process a reality.
  • Andrés has just scratched the surface, unsure where to begin.

LaptopsAnd they’ve all found sessions to expand their vision and knowledge at past NCDD conferences.

For all of his skepticism, Bob remembers Steven Clift’s presentation at NCDD’s 2012 conference in Seattle fondly. Clift’s 15 years of experience with email- and web-based community forums, particularly in immigrant and low income communities, and the way Clift’s work has been put to use in communities across the globe, resonated with him. Indeed, Bob surprised friends by asking Clift to help redesign an upcoming neighborhood summit using email to make it more inclusive. And he loves to tell the story of how some of his most important learning was about the value of going door to door and posting sign-up sheets at street fairs.

Few recall that Ashante’s fervor was sparked by her NCDD’s regional conference in Austin, in 2010. There, she first learned of the ways Manor, Texas used the web to harvest ideas from all residents. She realized that if a town of just 5000 residents could do this, her opportunities were far larger than she had thought. And Manor’s emphasis on low-cost technologies gave her hope that she could begin her efforts years sooner than she had planned.

That same year, at the regional conference in Boston, Kira encountered the University of New Hampshire’s efforts to facilitate discussions of state-sanctioned gambling in eleven communities. UNH had used an online forum to broaden the reach of the discussion, and she saw the potential for this approach to bring rural communities into a process she was managing in the Northwest.

LocalistoShowcaseAndrés has been energized by the more informal sessions. Face to face discussions during the technology showcase in Seattle gave him a real understanding of Mindmixer and how it compared to other web-based idea generation tools. And he dates his decision to start a blog on deliberation and outreach to old friends and new colleagues who walked him through their experiences with WordPress, Twitter, and Flickr at NCDD’s 2008 conference in Austin (and the pizza that night was delicious, too).

Of course, Andrés, Bob, Kira, and Ashante have helped one another and other attendees as well. Kira’s practical tricks for integrating technology into process work thawed Bob’s icy skepticism, and her results made him a bit envious. Bob paid that favor forward by participating vigorously in Ashante’s visioning workshop: his thoughtful cautions made Ashante set the bar for the quality of online interaction even higher. At that same workshop, Ashante’s enthusiasm fired Andrés up to explore how new social media tools could address the challenges he was facing. In turn, Andrés’ gentle but persistent questions made Kira realize that she’d have to spend more time to verify that the privacy of her participants was protected.

This interactive, top down, bottoms-up, and inside out enthusiasm is a hallmark of NCDD conferences.

So, whether you have an interest in technology for dialogue and deliberation or still need to be convinced, extensive experience or very little, you’ll find lots of opportunities to broaden your perspectives and lots of practitioners and technologists eager to learn from your experience, your insights, and your questions.

So please check out the conference schedule (Oct 17-19, 2014 in Reston, VA) for sessions suited to your own inner Kira, Andrés, Bob, and Ashante (sessions will be added within the next week!), register, and plan to share your wisdom and experience with 400 old and new friends and colleagues this October.

– Written by NCDD 2014 planning team member Chris Berendes of Netalyst, Inc.

*We confess that these four characters are fictional, but, as demonstrated by the links, the conference sessions that informed and inspired them are entirely real.

NCDD Community
This post was submitted by a member of the NCDD community. NCDD members are leaders and future leaders in the fields of public engagement, conflict resolution, and community problem solving. You, too, can post to the NCDD blog by completing the Add-to-Blog form at www.ncdd.org/submit.

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