So how does it feel to be apart of the “biggest, most diverse, politics and technology conference in the world?” (@misif) Well, let’s find out…. A big thanks for @FutureGov for giving me this brilliant opportunity!
Let me just start of by saying, this is possibility the most important and impressive conference I have ever attended. This doesn’t just extend to the fact I had my long time dream come true, which is coming to New York City but also down to everything and anything that had to do with the conference.
The vibe at PdF09…
The minute I arrived at the conference, there was a feeling of being surrounded by people who were intellectually in tuned with their passion, skills, knowledge and desire to make an indelible mark within their areas of expertise. However they weren’t just people who were just there because it was apart of their jobs, but there was a genuine sense of wanting to make things better and learn as well as share stories of each other experiences. I met alot of great talent and extraordinary people at this event who were all more than happy to talk to me. I’m very much humbled by those who have inspired me throughout the event. Thank you for those who shared your experiences and stories with me. They have truly inspired me!
The good stuff that sometimes goes unmentioned….
I’ve been to a few conferences now and I’ve come to appreciate those little touches or logistics that might go unnoticed to the ‘untrained’ eye at conferences. There are a couple of things that could cause a conference let down its attendees. However, I have to say, I was really impressed that PDF09 has really lived up to its expectations. Check out what they had to offer at the conference that really helped ease attendees to settle in comfortably throughout the intellectually intensive 2 day conference.
I know you might be thinking, what’s so special about that? Its just a name tag, but if you look closely the back of the name tag is the full schedule of the conference making it easy for you to navigate across the conference without needing to constantly checking the website or booklet. It was extremely useful to have it around your neck all the time because if you felt like one session wasn’t for you, you could quickly jump to another session!
- The Virgin America Tote!
(Sorry guys, I can’t seem to rotate these pics )
Anyways, some conferences sometimes like to give a plastic bag which is quite difficult to carry around if you’re lugging a bag filled with wires, chargers and a laptop/netbook. This Virgin America tote had lots of quality newspapers and literature and sits comfortably on your shoulder. You could also fold it up and zip it to transform it into a small carrying case. Love what it says on the bag… its so so so true! ;-p
- Computer support, printing and charge station
Now this is such a clever idea by Marathon Consulting. Setting up a stand to help PDF attendees who might have computer problems as well as printing services partnering with Xerox (which I happily used to print out my check-in flight confirmation!) and also a charging station which can charge up iPhones, Blackberrys and other random devices. You could leave your device while you’re in a session and pick it up when you’re ready! Brilliant considering you’d be busy tweeting away during the conference, you’re bound to run out of battery!
- Laptop areas in conference room with power extensions
Now this is something I was expecting to be provided and I’m glad that it was. There was even a diagram and signs indicating laptop friendly areas which made it easier for people to charge up their batteries. Though I have to say since almost everybody was using their laptops to tweet their thoughts, the demand was possibly higher than the supply! Maybe next year all areas in the conference room should be laptop friendly… I’m just saying…
- The Twitterslurp!
Bivings Group has cleverly created this cool tool to capture all the tweets at PDF09 in real-time throughout the conference. I was quite shocked that I ended up being one of those people who tweeted the most! Check it out!
I’m currently last on the list but I was at one point on top of the list and in between 4th and 5th until more people started tweeting heavily. I never intended to tweet so much but I guess there was just so much information that was worth sharing. Hope you guys enjoyed my tweets and found them useful!
- Last but not least, the excellent freebies to get attendees to be on time! Clever
We all know a conference success is usually measured by how many people attended and stay interested and be on time at the sessions, so I thought it was rather appropriate and clever that PDF09 used freebie prizes such as free roundtrip tickets on Virgin America and the also free copies of Obama’s Time Capsule (which is really cool btw, check it out on Amazon. If you’re a big Obama supporter, you definitely need to get one!)
Ways of following PDF09
I thought Jordan Raynor had a good write up on how to start following PDF09 updates. You can find his full blog post about it here. Though here are a few snipets that you could possibly follow up on if you still want to catch up on all the action.
2. Subscribe to this RSS feed for all #pdf09, #pdf2009, @pdf2009 or “Personal Democracy Forum” tweets.
3. Check http://video.personaldemocracy.com for videos of the PDF presentations.
The sessions on Day 1
So the sessions kicked off with opening welcomes from Andrew Rasiej and Micah L Sifry. But before we get on to that, I think its interesting to point out that Clay Johnson started a petition to never start PdF at 8:30am which I thought was sensible and funny at the same time. But what I really wanted to talk about here is the use of act.ly (tweet change) as a tool to create and sign petitions using twitter. Have you guys heard about this? I think its pretty cool and think many of you might find it useful to campaign your own causes. So start tweeting change!
So what was it all about? Nice starting point on all the buzz…
Key Learnings from Personal Democracy Forum 2009
It took a while for me to decide how I should go about writing this post as there was just a mountain of information presented at PdF09 that I feel it would take me absolutely forever to document all of them. So here goes my attempt to capture the key learnings from the sessions I attended and that I feel was most useful to me.
Session Title: Did Obama Revolutionize Campaigning? – A conversation with Joe Rospars (Obama ’08)
- Let’s have a look at what happened last year that was rehashed in the opening of this discussion. What you have to look out for here is “John McCain is aware of the Internet”.
- Via @katieharbath: Joe Rospars – Offline tactics just as important as online tactics. They worked in tandem.
- Via @bivings: $500,000 million raised online by Obama campaign.
- Via @JRudis: Obama ran the first integrated campaign – community of people contributed to it, with new media tied to traditional campaigning.
- Via @Tracyvs: Rospars: ran first integrated campaign. Always had new media component linked to traditional/offline campaign component.
- Via @JordanRaynor: Joe Rospars – Campaigns must be all about integration. Obama camp. hired up traditional journos to bridge gap.
- Via @ToddThurman: New media is not a replacement for old media.
- Via @SuperNova7: Lower the barrier to entry and get out of the way.
- Via @mpesce: “Provide resources to build a relationship with Barack Obama, but also to build a relationship with each other.”
- Via @svenburg: Joe Rospars: new media – the quickest way to mobilize national campaign from the ground up.
- Via @frogpajamas: Rospars: Obama’s intention in running was to change the campaign process for the better….Even if he lost, goal was change.
- Via Me: Its easy to underestimate the challenges. Joe Raspors said they started frm scratch and built it by hacking their way thru the jungle.
- Via @benteka: Embrace technology or not, that is not the point. Embrace people. Find the candidate (Rospars on the challenge for the Rep.)
- Via @benteka: Public should be redefined as open to everyone – searchable, readable, accessible online. -Andrew Rasiej
- Via @ToddThurman: Innovation, not government will bring down the cost of broadband.
- Via Me: With ppl tweeting abt irregularities at polling stations, we ourselves hv now become the reporters/big brother! Power to the people!
- Via @samgf: Agree w @rospars on importance of storytellng. Can’t mobilize unless u inspire – & stories are what inspire.
- Via @levjoy: Technology itself is NOT the solution. It’s a platform.
- Via @dominiccampbell: Obama’s pledge to post Bills online for 5 day consultation period http://tr.im/piNr
ReadTheBill.org’s mission is to strengthen our democracy by making sure elected officials and citizens have the chance to read and understand legislation.
A more transparent government begins with providing the people with the opportunity to tell their elected officials what they think of a piece of legislation, before it comes up for a vote. ReadTheBill.org is an effort to gather individuals and groups, luminaries and everyday folks, conservatives, liberals and independents behind the simple concept that all non-emergency legislation should be available online for 72 hours before debate begins.
The question that this essay will ask and answer is not what can we do to redesign democracy for the Internet Age, but, rather, why have we decided to delete democracy from the most visited interface citizens have with “their” government? And what are we going to do about it?
Session Title: Keynote speech on how technology is improving government by Mayor Michael Bloomberg
So, I guess it was obvious to say that after flying all this way to NYC, I was hoping that I’d be able to tell people that I was attending a conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg (in the flesh) but unfortunately he joined us via the wonderful medium of technology that we all adore and love, ‘Skype’. Turns out he was detained in Albany due to the state senate crisis (correct me if I’m wrong). But anyways, let’s have a recap of his keynote speech. Mind you, I thought I’d slip in some of the hilarious tweets captured on twitterslurp to give you a full view of the attendees reaction to Mayor Michael Bloomblerg’s speech.
Links worth mentioning featured in this session
- Escape from New York: Billionaire Tom Golisano Leaving NY Because of High Taxes, Gets Advice from Limbaugh
- Extension of Phase III: Drafting of Open Government Recommendations
- MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES FIVE TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVES TO IMPROVE ACCESSIBILITY, TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACROSS CITY GOVERNMENT
Session Title: Reality Check: The Internet’s Impact on Politics: A Conversation With Nate Silver, Fivethirtyeight.com
Session Title: Owning Your Identity in Social Media with Gina Bianchini
In case you guys didn’t know who Gina is, she is in fact the co-founder of Ning.com, a platform for creating your own social network for anything (I’m sure you’ve heard or have used it before, right?). So you wanna know what Gina was talking about? Well, let’s check it out!
Links worth mentioning in this session
- The Pickens Plan by Bivings Group plugged by Gina Bianchini
- Via @dominiccampbell: Interesting example of using Ning for political organising down under. http://grassroots.labour.org.nz
- Via @mollymoran: Connected Peace Corps is a Ning network with 13,000 current and former Peace Corps members. http://community.peacecorpsconnect.org/
- Via Me!: http://netroots.thelistproject.org – Gina is talking abt that brings iraqi allies to the US. Ning decided to support them. BottomUp!
- Via @laurelatoreilly: Very cool! Neighbors for Neighbors in Jamaica Plain is “a soundboard for voices and a springboard for action http://www.neighborsforneighbors.org/
Session Title: danah boyd, The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online
Now this session is a really special one for me. I’ve been a great fan of danah’s work for some time now and respect the work she has done in this field. So it was not a surprise that her presentation was considered to be one of the best in terms of content and delivery throughout the whole conference (though I do have another presentation which I consider my fav that I will share with you later). So to find out all the gem’s of information coming from danah’s presentation, check out the quality tweets below to get a sense of what was being discussed.
Links worth mentioning in this session
- Via @glennstrachan: http://bit.ly/oHXO6 The isolating powers of technology
Session Title: Jeff Jarvis, Reinventing Government: What Would Google Do?
I have to say, Jeff Jarvis certainly did a great job in engaging with the audience. Have you wondered what would google do if they were to reinvent the government. Well sit tight, coz Jeff Jarvis has got it covered in this session. Enjoy!
Links worth mentioning in this session
Session Title: David Weinberger, Truth and Transparency
David is the author of “Everything is Misc” on how we understand information. He will be talking about what happens when all this data gets into our hands? How is it changing us?
So the 2nd day of PdF09 kicks off with some really really important people (RRIP). We have Obama’s CIO, Vivek Kundra and also Macon Phillips then Beth Noveck who is the deputy U.S Chief Technology Officer for open government. And of course not to forget our beloved Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist) who will introduce the speakers. This is a very useful session so be sure to pay extra close attention to the tweets!
Craig Newmarks “Nonks”!
Vivek Kundra, Macon Phillips with Micah.
- Via @benteka: Sifry: Beth Novak has written the bible if you are interested in open government “Wiki Government”
- Via @howardgr: Beth Noveck Fed. CTO for Off. of Sci. Tech Policy – talking about the Open Government initiative.
- Via @JRudis: Now we’re learning about http://www.whitehouse.gov/open/ – how to bring innovation into gov, keeping things open
- Via @ruthannharnisch: #pdf09 Beth Noveck of WH up, responsible for riding herd on open, collaborative process of whitehouse.gov/open. Bring innovation to govt.
- Via @nicktroiano: Beth Noveck, author of Wiki govt and deputy CTO, going over the three stage process of drating the Open Govt Directive.
- Via Me!: Now showing the Open Gov Dialogue on e screen at #pdf09 Bev is talking abt creating a set of gating phases to get the process moving forward.
- Via Me!: Check out that website http://opengov.ideascale.com/ The Open Government Dialogue
- Via @abenamer: Noveck: we want to benefit from all ideas not the small number we have access to in Washington.
- Via @JRudis: Experiment with what are the best ways to make policy that benefits from all of the ideas we have (not just the ideas in Washington)
- Via @khart: Beth Noveck “going toward a shift for how we truly make policy” #pdf09 Talking about Open Gov Initiative she launched a month ago.
- Via @CauseGlobal: BethNoveck #pdf09: White House open gov project:goal is to use Web to ask public for input on govt policy-making.
- Via Me!: “Its not abt throwing ideas, its abt how to make use of them” – Bev Noveck
- Via @nishachittal: The number one thing submitted to the WH opengov site so far: people wanting to see Obama’s birth certificate. Really.
- Via @scottros: Beth Noveck at #pdf09 describing whitehouse.gov/open/ idea solicitation, reviewing, blogging about new policy ideas
- Via @MarkElliott: “Noisy idiot” just mentioned by Noveck – this is not @craignewmark’s term, but @catherine_white – nice!
- Via Me!: Community moderation: This is a place which is open, talking abt gov policy. However there are always going to be ‘noisy idiots’
- Via Me!: Its not just abt talking abt open gov,its abt inspiring ppl to use the tools an get info back into innovation. The blog is useful here.
- Via @mollymoran: Novek at #pdf09 – OSTP Blog allows users to flag comments as off-topic, makes these comments less visible. work done by community, not govt
- Via @jenvandermeer: Beth Noveck “If you leave a garden untended it will get overrun by weeds.”
- Via @tomjd: Whitehouse OpenGov initiative got 1000 ideas in the 1st wk. All sorted/read/mind-mapped. Now blogging findings http://blog.ostp.gov/
- Via @ruthannharnisch: Noveck: The online info does not replace other formats for learning about and commenting on govt matters, just opens the process more
- Obama CIO To Unveil Transparency Tool
- Personal Democracy Forum conference: initial themes
- @JordanRaynor Day 1 of #pdf09 by the numbers
- The Personal Democracy Forum Doesn’t Help Conservatives
- Craig Newmark “Best Customer Service Rep in the World” Blog
- Federal IT Dashboard
- And Data for All: Why Obama’s Geeky New CIO Wants to Put All Gov’t Info Online
- Beth Noveck Bio
- ‘Open’ White House
- Open Government Dialogue
- Open government advocates map out future of citizen governance
- OSTP Blog
Links worth mentioning in this session
So there goes my roundup of the most important sessions at PdF09. A big thank you again to FutureGov Consultancy for giving me this ultimately inspiring and thought provoking experience that I will indeed apply to my own research at http://www.lgeoresesarch.com I hope fellow readers have found this post useful and please feel free to ask me any questions about the conference if you wish to do so. You can find me at @liz_azyan on twitter.
Till we meet again, take care and I hope you have found this useful! Ta *Nonks!* ;-p