N2Y2 certainly brought together some amazing people from various domains to work for social change. Nonprofit entrepreneurs, technologists, foundation representatives, venture capitalists, and those that support and critique them converged in one space. This in itself is indisputably important and valuable. What to do within that space to best foster the emergence of good things might be a little more complicated and debatable.
21 projects voted in through popularity polls online.
What worked for me:
- Fun, friendly, interesting attendees
- fame factor of some of the attendees (though not of the speakers)
- divergence of interests of attendees, panelists, and projects
- splitting up of the awards among all
- silly wooden nickel voting, playfulness, general energy of the event
- warmth and friendliness of the staff, organizers, and others
- speed-geeking the projects (I heard others suggest how this might uplift projects strong in communications while showing unfavorably groups that donâ€™t communicate well or have ineffective speakersâ€”to my thinking these things are important to the success of a project. It might not be ideal, but it is true.)
- backpacks. t-shirts. I used to handle promotional stuff, so I am pretty clear how cheesy it all is. I still love coming home with good stuff. Call me a sucker.
- The logo. I love the character wrapping her arms around the 2. It really worked for me. In fact, the graphics on everything looked swell!
- Back-channel chatting is terrific. I love it. I want to see more of it.
What didnâ€™t work for me:
- Panel discussion divided by social impact (I didnâ€™t get much sense of what the social implications of any of the projects I listened to), economic sustainability (letâ€™s push nonprofits to become social entrepreneurs?), and technology innovation (it was already clear who knew their technology).
- Voting process done by one round rather than winnowing (repeated rounds of narrowing down).
- Lack of transparency about voting outcomes. With the overall winner of the event being MapLightâ€”an organization about money and political transparency, it was pointed out to me how incredibly ironic that the event coordinators themselves werenâ€™t showing how many tokens each group collected.
- I never figured out which of the panelists was going to moderate which panel. So I missed seeing people like Lucy Bernholz!
- organizations there that did not get much opportunity to be visible, I was pleased to see the Bring Light presentation. It was much more interesting that the Cisco exec talk (though Cisco were fantastic and gracious hosts!).
- Superficial efforts to be coolâ€”stickers we could place on our name tags to show whether we had attended which of the three area panels. It didnâ€™t seem to mean anything to anyone I talked with. The overabundance of printed materials. Wasted paper. The â€œtagâ€ boxes in the upper corner of the 21 projects in the bookletâ€”it would have been better to have a space for me to put my own tag cloud together.
- The elephant in the roomâ€”there is, even here, a generational gap in understanding technology and cultural innovations. It isnâ€™t the tools, stupid. Yes, know the tools, create good tools, indeed. And people use them. There was a clear divide of people who â€œgetâ€ what web 2.0 is about, and people who are buzzing about it and donâ€™t understand the cultural shift. And there are some marginal people who understand there is a change, but they canâ€™t move from intellectually grasping it to wholeheartedly being it. I didn’t see much movement to change that.
- Take advantage of what is best about the projects. Clearly there is something valuable about each of these which others could learn from. For example, Genocide Intervention Network really gets the cross-portal identity management piece. YouthAssets really understood how to create a flow system. How can they share what they are already doing well or figured out as an advantage? Let the audience participate and generate a list of 1-3 core advantages and then have the org explain a little about each of them. Was a projects innovative edge about social impact (new way to impact more people better)? Was a projects innovative edge about technology (new technology or new use of technology)? Or was a project economically innovative (new model of creating monetary and resource flows)? Let the strong ones in each issue speak on that issueâ€¦and be paneled by experts that can push their edges even further.
- Good Capital, YouthGive, Lucy, and others, in my mind, should have gotten 5 minutes too somehow…though that could be a time management issue.
- Perhaps there could be a better equating of tokens to funds received.
- Outlaw buzz words OR tally keeping on words like community and collaboration. (Yeah, I know, I would be in trouble pretty quickly, as I love these words too.)