I’m back in my office after another successful NAGW conference. I’m tired, hopeful and excited. Tired because planning and executing a national conference is a lot of work! Hopeful because I met a lot of great government web people who are passionate about what they do; and excited because this year’s speakers challenged our sometimes complacent thinking, gave us a glimpse of the future and taught us about the tools we need to use to get there.
This year, we were blessed with an abundance of excellent keynote speakers, including the wonderfully humorous Jared Spool whose comments on “template design” ruffled feathers and caused people to rethink how they create user experiences; Google’s Phil Mui who provided us with a lot of insight into how search works and how it can affect our design experience and our websites’ findability; and Opera Software’s Molly Holzschlag, whose presentations on HTML5 and the open web gave us all a glimpse of a future that is already well upon us.
All of our speakers proved to be very humble, down-to-earth individuals who stuck around and mingled with attendees throughout the conference. Getting to meet and socialize with such interesting yet approachable people is always a pleasure.
Every year I am amazed and humbled by our wonderful attendees. Whoever thinks govies are boring and indifferent has never been to a NAGW conference! To borrow a well-worn phrase from our good friends at GovLoop, NAGW attendees are awesome! The socializing that happens at a NAGW conference is at least as important as the sessions everyone attends. I’ve seen so many people make connections and help each other out during casual conversations; it’s just an amazing support network that you can’t get anywhere else.
Speaking of support, NAGW was happy to have Dan Melton, CTO of Code for America, give a 20 minute presentation during lunch on Wednesday on what CfA is and what it’s trying to accomplish (if you don’t know, check out their website and the Civic Commons site). I was impressed by the energy and passion Dan had for this unique non-profit vision and NAGW is pleased to be partnering with CfA on some of their current and future endeavors. I believe there are huge benefits to both organizations and I really look forward to supporting their mission in the coming months and years.
This year I got to match a few faces with names, including Andrew Krzmarzick from GovLoop, John Moore of The Lab, and Adriel Hampton (who also ran our Social Media Boot Camp pre-conference session) of Gov 2.0 Radio fame. These are all people I’ve been interacting with online via Twitter, GovLoop and other social media avenues. It was nice to sit down and have a beer and a conversation with them and get to shake their hands for the first time.
Every NAGW conference is a memorable event, but this year’s just felt a bit more special than in years past. I feel like this year saw NAGW pass from a struggling, youthful organization trying to get its legs firmly underneath it to a more mature, self-assured organization. We’ve found our place in the world and are making great strides forward for our members.
I couldn’t be more proud.