Though I did not have my camera with me, I can be satisfied knowing that many photographs of the N-TEN National Technology Conference were taken and posted to Flickr under the tag “nten05.” Here’s a pic taken by Kris Kables of the NPower gang. I had the fortune to invite myself along with them for dinner earlier tonight at 1492 Tapas Bar—an excellent restaurant, by the way, and my first tapas experience.
Really only a two-day event, the NTC wrapped up with a closing reception and a few words from the new N-TEN director. The crowd of nearly 800 attendees had thinned down to only a hundred or so, and I was left alone to fend for myself, so I found Andy and the NPower gang (since I had met them earlier through my boss) and decided to go out to dinner with them.
Conferences can be tiring events even when you’re not working them; this is apparently an observation I share with many others—I heard this mentioned more than once in conversations at the reception. Another recurring statement was that the conference should’ve been at least one day longer. There are simply too many sessions offered side-by-side, and many had to flip coins to pick the ones they would attend; the “Tag This!” session about Flickr, del.icio.us, etc. was itself a standing-room-only crowd.
Though there were many sessions that did not interest me (finance, fundraising, etc.), there were equally as many that did pique my interest (technology policy, blogging, trends, OSS, etc.). I didn’t expect to find such a diverse converence geared toward managers and techies alike; I expected it only to focus on the managers. I also didn’t expect to come into contact with such high profile individuals in the Internet industry.
In addition, I was amazed at the eagerness and readiness to accept open source technology that these nonprofits exhibited. Many of them, though not from technical backgrounds, were excited by the prospect—and this shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s not the money that they may save in licensing fees. It’s the politics of it, rather.
Open source at its heart is about political change. It’s about volunteers being moblized to collaborate and create something that is meant to benefit all of society. It’s about supporting a cause that is not driven by profit and commercialism. And while I have nothing against making a profit or the capitalistic society in which we live (indeed, I embrace it), I see a distinct value in welcoming this technology and promoting it. I see it as progress, while capitalism can stall progress even though that is not supposed to be at the heart of its nature. To me, progress is a good thing—especially when we all benefit from it.
So, I’m excited to see nonprofits in this country embracing the open source movement. I’m thrilled to see them interested in blogging and how that can help them connect with others and spread their message (whatever it may be). I’m ecstatic to see them discussing policy and how it affects them (Grokster, Patriot Act, etc.). Finally, it’s interesting to see them consider and discuss how emerging Web technologies like Flickr and del.icio.us might be used to their benefit.