Anybody that gets within earshot of me during the months of October and November will hear me wax lyrical about this event (the only one I’ll cross the pond for!). Lasting three days during the third week of November, The NonProfit Developer (#npdev) Summit is Aspiration’s annual gathering that brings together a diverse collection of activists, developers and non-profit techies with a range of age, ethnicity and gender represented. I might venture to say that this year’s was the best one yet. The experience and learnings were rich as we kicked off in small groups talking about our passions and what drives us in our work and developed the agenda. The participant-sourced spectrogram statements are always a key indicator of where the crowd is at, and there was plenty of controversy, particularly with:
- Trolling can be good
- We need technology corporations
- Technology = gentrification
- Profit is evil
- We are all under surveillance right now
For me NPDev is a great place to workshop materials for the FabBlog and I get a hell of a lot from running the following sessions:
- In ‘tech strategies for advocacy’ we were to pick apart my framework and put it back together – the key input was that steps I had created that connect organisational strategies to information architecture need to be cyclical and not linear.
- For ‘how user-centred design can inform advocacy strategies’ a key take away was being able to connect the practice of advocacy oriented stakeholder mapping to that of software development user centred design.
- And then ‘how to have a community of practice’ I ran with the engine room’s Kristin Antin garnered lots of great best practices as we explored the connections between on and offline and how to properly invest in developing the community by supporting emerging leaders.
Other sessions I attended that were super helpful
- GitHub for creating content – yes it’s possible! Amanda Hickman took us through her workflow for collaborative editing of content using the GitHub platform.
- How to be an activist tech capacity builder – Beatrice Martini & Elliot Harmon led a lively discussions about how to work with social change organisations in away that empowers and builds knowledge. Very similar (refreshingly) to our blog post on what we learned about tech capacity building
- In email best practices for activists – Matt Holland walked us through how to write email that leads to action. Turns out ‘crisitunity’ is not just a word made up by Homer Simpson.
Other sessions I wished I could have gone to included: Digital Security for Humans, Metaphors for teaching about Digital Security, Ethical Consulting & Lessons Learned from Occupy Sandy.
This year we ditched the regimented format of speedgeeking for a more relaxed and in depth format of a science fair. Some great projects I learned about:
- The Coral Project – creating open-source tools and resources for publishers of all sizes to build better communities around their journalism.
- Digital Integrity Fellowships – A mentor based approach to holistic digital security for human rights defenders.
- Word Press Advanced Custom Fields – Unlimited field functionality
- The Internet Thing – need to pay attention to the internet without looking at a screen? This sign can be programmed to let you know when stuff is happening on the internet!
- The Calyx Institute – making useable privacy apps and secure hosting
I was also honoured to receive a copy of Tim Frick’s and Kate Eyler-Werve’s book ‘Return on Engagement‘ – an online content strategy guide that has a content management section that had been workshopped at NPDev 2013.
If you are regretting missing the great sessions from NPDev 2015 – you can always check out the wiki of session notes from this year and past at: https://devsummit.aspirationtech.org/. But make sure you don’t miss NPDev 2016!