<p><b><br /> Science Fair:</b> Bla, call it what it is, <i>Vendor </i>Fair. Really not fun being pitched to and bribed with little toys and candy. Well the little toys and candy are kind of cool. I now have a new back massager, courtesy of Kintera, and desk clock, and envelope opener (with a sharp razor that made it onto the plane flying out of O'Hare i just realized), but vendors are too busy pitching for the most part to really listen to us about what we need. </p><p>Maybe turn the Fair on its head in the future, and let anyone who wants set up a table to talk about what they are doing and what the need, with a focus not on vendors, but organizations, and let the vendors circulate and talk to folks.</p> <p><b>Small Groups Dinner</b>: Fun, we talked about terrorism, airport security, text messaging, blogs and more. The table was really divided in 2, not sure what they talked about at the other end of the table but Patti, her friend, Jacob and Chris Krinkle from [lk:www.getactive.com|GetActive] and I had some fun conversation. Thanks for diner GetActive.</p> <p><b>Mena Trott Keynote:</b> Bla-er than Bla. This was really possible the [gh:node/73|worst keynote address] I have ever sat through, though I wasn't too impressed with Randle Pinket at the regional nTen in NY. I think it would behoove nTEN to get a real visionary for this slot, (only because I am reading his book right now) [lk:www.lessig.org/blog/|Lawrence Lessig] would ROCK! But there are other folks IN the community who could have given a more interesting keynote address, even on the topic of blogging, I am sure.</p> <p><b>Panels:</b> Not enough participation by people who are actually working in the orgs. Some of the best conversation at the conference happens over lunch, or in the halls between people working at organizations, not between orgs and vendors. And most panels are heavy on the vendors. I think that all panels should have some non vendor people on them. I think that power points should be BANNED. Ok, maybe not all power points, but i saw some bad ones. I even saw one bad one twice (thank you [lk:www.democracyinaction.org|DemocracyInAction]) It seemed that there were a bunch of folks, or vendors that were on more than one panel, but non of them were the ones I would have wanted to see more than once (with the exception of Andrew Hoppin from [lk:www.civicspace.org|CivicSpace] and [lk:www.civicactions.com/index.php?topic=pool|Dan Robinson from CivicActions]) and it is not because I am partial to their organizations and "products" but because they are interesting people and they engaged the room in a conversation (as does [lk:www.network-centricadvocacy.net|Marty Kearns]). I originally, before the conference, did not see why nTEN didn't want people to be on more than one panel. But after seeing the same people on more than one panel, I can understand. I say at regionals and the next national, <b>get more regular people on panels</b>, and schedule focused and moderated discussions on various topics, at least 2 sessions a day.</p> <p><b></b></p> <p>Plenary: [w:Esther_Dyson|Esther Dyson], this was pretty interesting, but the energy level seemed a little low. I was also distracted trying to get live chat going, which brings me to my next point…</p> <p>The [lk:nten.editme.com|Wiki]: good intention, bad execution, wrong tool for the job. As we can see (not much on the wiki) it didn;t work. Better tools to enhance the conference experience would include:<br /> Live Chat, like back channel action, running behind some of the panels and such. The live chat that I tried to get going didn't really work this time because well, day one we used irc, and there is a high barrier to entry with irc. and then I set up [lk:manuel.kiessling.net/projects/software/arsc|ARSC] on my site but didn't realize it was not working until the friday–at the Plenary, and then I set up [lk:www.atutor.ca/achat|AChat] which did work, but the word didn't get out and the use-case for live chat is really the keynote and the Plenary.</p> <p><b>Blog aggregator:</b> there were 8 or so people blogging the conference. There should have been more, and probably were some more, next time, nTEN should aggregate feeds from folks who are blogging the conference. All the bloggers can use a standard taxonomy to categorize posts and provide a feed of their nTEN posts. </p> <p>[lk:www.txtmob.com|TXTMOB]: ok this did not work really, but I figured I would try it after the txting conversation we had at our Wednesday night dinner. I think that it certainly could work, if there were more people on it and more ad hoc sessions.</p> <p>This whole post probably seems pretty negative, so let me just stress that I really enjoyed the conference as a whole, the criticism is meant to be constructive and the most valuable aspect of the conference is getting people together in one place to meet, talk and share ideas, and any little snafu can't stand in the way of that huge benefit. </p>