Three days ago in Warsaw, the second edition of the Sektor 3.0 Conference took place. Technology can significantly change and improve the way in which social organizations operate. This is what I believe in, and what NetSquared is all about. Fortunately, we are not just a bunch of crazy people -- an official event here, in Poland, somehow makes our belief grounded and more legitimate.
The agenda was full. The conference was opened with speeches by funders, government representatives, and practitioners (like Chris Worman from TechSoup). Afterwards -- depending on a chosen track -- participants were able to take part in three 20 minutes workshops on different stages of IT. A summary of the workshops and a panel discussion came afterwards, followed by the closing speech. Was this enough to convince the unconvinced? To support the early adopters? To enable sharing and discussions around technology and social change? I am not sure. Nevertheless, I want to tell you what I have learned.
I learned that I learn the best via conversations and interactions, and that is why workshops were my favourite agenda point. I also learned that there are a few things you can do having 20 minutes and a group of people to your disposal when running a session.
I learned that if you really want to educate people, you need to be very well prepared. I was impressed by the workshop that my Fundacja TechSoup colleagues ran on the topic of online management. They sparked interest using visuals, then encouraged people to share their stories, and left the participants with a well-prepared and handout along with the de.lici.ous account with over 60 links relevant to the topic.
With 20 minutes, less time for preparation, but enough passion and experience you can as well do something else: give an inspiring, eye-opening presentation on something that matters. This is what my friend Krzysztof Trzewiczek from the Polish Digital Center did, and he talked about infographics as a tool for social change. Do you know the model example of how Minard visualized Napoleon’s Russian Campaign? He did get a message across. Visualizing is rather abstract then literal, and should have a well defined “point”.
Last but not least, Sektor 3.0 taught me that many of the most important things at a conference such as this one happen backstage. Fundacja TechSoup had a stand in one of the entry rooms, and my colleague was truly amazed by the variety of people that came over to ask questions about what we do and why we do it. Interaction with the “real” people, who are benefiting from out programs grounds our work, and makes it more real.
All in all, I realized that (almost) everything you do is what you make it to be. Even a restrictive timeframe can work for your benefit. 20 minutes or one day might not be enough, but I am glad that technology and social change is a topic more and more widely discussed.