NAGW Conference Roundup

Now that I’m back home, I figured I’d do a brief roundup of the NAGW conference, both for my own edification, and (supposing that Google will potentially work its connection magic in the fullness of time) potentially to help make future conferences better.

First, the good:
I had some totally awesome pre-conference sessions. The rapid prototyping session led by Marc Drummond was super-helpful and crammed with good ideas (even if I couldn’t remember his damn name for the first couple hours!). Bill Brown’s presentation on the Holier Grail was exactly how I like my technical sessions: hard-core, fast-paced, and full of useful information while leaving my brain feeling like deep-friend mush. Thanks and kudos to both of you!

The first day of the conference proper started out with a great opening keynote by Joe Rotella addressing the need to keep my sites’ users foremost in my mind while building my shiny toys. He also strongly suggested (is demanded too strong a word, Joe?) getting actual input from actual users, then following the time-honored creative writing tradition of Killing Our Babies (see I.6). After that, I went to a session led in part by Bruce Blood about the future of government websites. After framing the conversation, Bruce and his co-hosts turned the discussion over to the room. After an hour of give-and-take, the consensus was pretty much this: We all know how and (potentially) when to deploy all the cool tools out there; the sticking point comes with the legal aspects (particularly moderating comments vs. First Amendment protections).

We finished off day two with a trip out for pizza at dinner, then beer around the fire ring back by the pool, during both of which the discussions and stories flowed freely. Very cool!

You’ve (probably) already ready about the Day Two Debacle (below), and I don’t really have anything to add but this: That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes; you just get unlucky with the choices you make. Oh well…

On day three, I decided to bail right after a breakfast session of geeking out with a new friend about custom ROMs for smart phones. The closing keynote was about “What we can expect with IE 8.” Considering I spent about 90 minutes the previous night fighting (and losing) with my computer to remove IE 8 and return to a working IE 7 configuration, I fell like I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. And I’m glad I did get out of town, too, or I might still be down there, doing the breast stroke.

The real sum, though is my answer to the key question: Will I try to go next year? Answer: Hell, yes. Especially because we’re supposed to meet in Galveston. During the peak of hurricane season.

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