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February 01, 2006

Technology Conference Wrap-up

First, congratulations to ASAE & The Center's technology section council and meetings staff for putting on a great conference. As I mentioned in my audio post yesterday, the conference drove home two main points for me.

  • The importance of learning from those working in other functional areas. I have very little exposure to technology issues in my normal work day, but hearing about the challenges faced by technology professionals in the association community definitely broadened my horizons.
  • The value of engaging in meaningful face-to-face conversation with other professionals who are constantly thinking about association issues and cultivating unconventional wisdom for our work.

Let me add another point, though, more specific to the content of the conference:

  • In almost every session I attended, I heard the same phrase: "It's not about the technology." Seemingly blasphemous words for a technology conference. The context, though, was always focused around the notion that technologies are tools. The people using them, and the strategy the tool is meant to support, are far more important than the tool itself.

Some meeting planning goodies:

All handouts were delivered on a 1 gigabyte USB jump drive. At just 1 x 3 inches and a few grams, this is vast improvement over the gaudy and awkward conference bags and heavy manuals that are typically handed out at large conventions. Big thumbs up!

The conference schedule was printed on a 3 x 5 inch laminated card that came attached to the badge and lanyard. Since there was really no paper to consult, this was an innovative and handy resource born out of necessity.

View a photo of this set-up.

As for my panel, well, I thought it was pretty good. I felt we spent way too much time talking about blogs and podcasts. There are so many Web 2.0-ish tools out there that are way more collaborative and engaging that associations should be taking advantage of. I mentioned two cool services during the panel, and I'll post a more thorough explanation of how I'm using them at a later date.


Jeff De Cagna said...

Ben, don't be too hard on our panel. The blogs and podcasting discussion was good because it was what the audience wanted to discuss. I thought your contributions were excellent and the conversation was very worthwhile. It will continue, through our blogs and in other venues. Thanks for being an outstanding contributor!

Ben said...

Thanks for moderating panel, Jeff. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience. However, I do stand by my opinion that the conversation was too blog/podcast heavy. Perhaps the audience WANTED to hear about blogs and podcasts. I would argue they NEEDED to hear about some other services, but didn't know it.

AmericnJewl said...

Ben, thanks for contributing to a great panel. And I do agree with you regarding the nature of the panel/audience discussion. I selected the session for purely personal interests as I'm a pseudo-techno-geek and I enjoy being an early adopter. The demographics of my assn, however, skewes heavily toward the "older male." I'm uncertain as to how to incorporate social media and features such as RSS feeds.

Jeff De Cagna said...

Ben, I completely agree that there are more topics that our audience needs to hear about, and I would argue that they will because we will continue to talk about them on our blogs, our podcasts and at other meetings. I still believe that our panel was a very good start to what will be a continuing conversation!

Ben said...

No argument from me on that one, Jeff.

Americnjewl, I would suggest you look into things like adding the MyYahoo! buttons to any feeds you create, or consider using the RSS services that send updates via email.

AmericnJewl said...

Thanks, RSS via e-mail sounds like it may fit with the assn membership.

David McCann said...

Hi Ben, good stuff. Hey we've got a good meetings industry blog at Why don't you put us on your blog roll, and we'll start one with you on it.


Kinley Levack said...

Ben, Looks like we had a similar take on the conference as a whole.

Can you be more specific about what you think the panel should have discussed instead of (or in addition to) blogs and podcasts? It seems the discussion centered around those two because they are pretty easy to get your feet wet with, but I'd love to hear what else you think we should all be exploring.

Ben said...

Kinley, check out