Notes from the Net Tuesday Planning Meeting, November 11, 2008

These are raw notes taken by myself (Seth), and comprised primarily of the contents of sheets of brainstormed topics. Being brainstorms, we wrote down whatever was contributed, despite some internal inconsistencies. I’m including everything from the brainstorms into these notes, since this is the only documentation of the meeting (and I want to throw away those big sheets of paper!). I’ve also composed an “Executive Summary” of my own, subjective “takeaway” from the meeting. I invite others who attended to share their own recollections or perspectives. And, of course, anyone who reads this is more than welcome to add their own comments. —Seth

Executive Summary: Net Tuesday Philly (the monthly meetings) and Philly NetSquared (the more broadly defined group) exist among a rich variety of related groups and events in the Philadelphia area. Our core differentiation and value lies in creating a space for techies, social change agents and others who are interested in “using the social web for social change” to come together. Nonprofit and social change folks can learn about these emerging technologies; techies can better understand how their skills and knowledge can be applied for social change; and all of us can learn from, support and inspire one another. We want our monthly Net Tuesday meetings to emphasize cases, examples, practical applications, strategic considerations and effective networking. And, under the Philly NetSquared banner, we want to develop additional opportunities for members to build relationships and benefit one another outside of monthly meetings. This is really exciting, timely and important stuff.

(Full notes after the jump.)

A dozen of us met at MANNA‘s offices: Larry Miller, Powen Shiah, Meg Rider, Meg Paszko, Jeremy Heffner, Katie Edwards, Ivan Boothe, Sam Cohen, Marina Sout, Jim Wurster, Thomas Taylor and myself. Special thanks to Meg Rider of MANNA for hosting us, and for providing samples of MANNA’s pies. (These famous gourmet pies are a major fundraiser for MANNA, and must be ordered by November 19 to be available for Thanksgiving. Hint, hint. Yum, yum.)

After introductions, we began by reviewing the first 6 meetings:

  • May (Aaron & Mark on AFSC’s Friends for Peace & Ivan on social networking to engage members)
  • June: Larry on extensible meeting and process mgmt & Seth and Ivan on NetSquared conference
  • July: Extreme Makover: Web Strategy Edition (Ruth Ann’s Wiki-Theater)
  • August: Web 2.0 tech (Thomas on Twitter, Nate on RSS, Mark on video)
  • September: Web 2.0 tech (Rod on podcasting, David on videoblogging)
  • October: peer to peer social change sites (Ivan, Kane and Hatef)

… and indicating what worked well and what could be improved.

What worked well:

  • Case studies
  • Usage examples
  • Learning about tools in general (2 per session worked better than 3 per session)
  • Networking

What could be improved:

  • more concrete metrics
  • trying the “Extreme Makeover” format again with clearer requirements and more prep.
  • some discussions were too abstract
  • some discussions were too “sales-y” (like a vendor pitch)
  • need more “how to apply this to my situation”
  • need stronger tie-in to non-profit/social change work

The Net Tuesday Philly group has a number of faces, including:

  • The Meetup group (140 members)
  • Other attendees not on Meetup (20 names)
  • The general Google Group (56 subscribers)
  • The Organizers (Advisors) Google Group (17 subscribers)
  • This WordPress blog
  • a Facebook page
  • a MySpace page
  • a LinkedIn group

We talked about consolidating some of these, or at least being clear about what was the most definitive source. It would be nice to have a particular, robust and flexible site that we could do more with. How this would be done wasn’t discussed. Seth is going to renew our request for a subdomain from NetSquared (e.g.,

As far as promoting our monthly meetings, in addition to using the groups mentioned above, we’ve variously used:

  • flyers
  • Craig’s List
  • United Way’s What Matters newsletter
  • the PHENND newsletter
  • the SBN newsletter

It was suggested we should also promote through:

  • City Paper
  • Philadelphia Weekly
  • phillynewmediahub

We brainstormed other groups in the Philly area which are in the same or related space, including:

  • Bar Camp Philly
  • JUNO – P’unk Ave
  • PLUG
  • Media Tank
  • Philly IMC
  • Philly Geek Dinner
  • Philly Perl Mongers
  • Web Analytics
  • SEO Grail
  • Philly Salesforce NP
  • Philly Mac Alliance
  • Phillypreneurs
  • Philly Young NP Leaders
  • Web Standards group
  • Social Media Club
  • Ignite Philly
  • Drupal group
  • Sustainable Business Network (and other sustainable groups)
  • phillynewmediahub
  • Technically Speaking Radio
  • NTEN 501 Tech club
  • Agile Philly
  • PACS
  • WordPress groups
  • Independents Hall
  • University groups?

After naming a bunch of these groups, we tried to identify what was unique about Net Tuesday Philly in relation to many of these other groups, and came up with :

  • Affiliation with NetSquared (part of TechSoup), and 2 dozen other Net Tuesday groups
  • Focus on the nonprofit / social change world
  • Having a program (not just a gathering in a bar)
  • Range of attendees
  • Focus on social media bridges the gap between techies and social change agents
  • Attempt to address people on the periphery of this space
  • “Helping non-profits achieve social change through technology”
  • Value of informality

We identified some things we thought were needed by the audience we are addressing, including:

  • identifying outcomes and measurements
  • web (and web 2.0) literacy
  • social change literacy
  • more case studies, examples, models
  • (a comment was made that the need is greater for the social change agents than for the techies)

In terms of goals and ideas for Net Tuesday meetings, we mentioned:

  • Continue to try to address a range of people, including both techies and social change agents
  • Present “tools framed in case studies”
  • Challenge people’s assumptions
  • Help people understand whether and how they should use these tools
  • Discuss what works and what doesn’t
  • Presentations should be “unbiased” (i.e., not sound like a sales pitch)
  • Provide inspiration
  • Help techies and nonprofit/social change folks understand one another and work together
  • Appeal to program staff and consultants
  • Help people think about strategy
  • Put our programs out as audio and video podcasts

We also talked about goals and ideas for Philly NetSquared in general. (A way to think about this is what can we do besides for monthly meetings.) We came up with:

  • Have a directory of members
  • Create a “clearinghouse” way for members to collaborate on ideas or projects
  • Share reviews of resources (books, websites…)
  • Share information and resources with Net Tuesday groups in other cities
  • Have a sort of “think tank” for people to focus on using the social web for social change

Summary of actions:

  • Larry and Thomas are a “space exploration committee” to investigate other potential venues. We don’t need to leave IndyHall, but want to know what our options are. Some ideas suggested were: UArts, the Ethical Society, United Way, Triumph and Valanni.
  • Larry, Meg (Rider), Sam, Ivan and Seth are forming a programming committee to come up with programs, most immediately for December 2.
  • Meg Rider will begin to draft a survey to go out to our broad membership
  • Seth will check on obtaining a subdomain
  • We’ll change the name of the Organizers group to the Advisors group, and invite anyone to join who wants to have input into these sorts of discussions.


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