Tag Archives: review

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.

Fer cryin’ shame

Today was pretty much a total frickin’ waste at the NAGW convention. I actually got “shushed” (seriously) by an uptight woman at breakfast when I was in the middle of a conversation with someone else, I went to three sessions which featured:

  • “CuttingEdge.gov” presented by a CMS vendor who, in the first paragraph of his presentation, mentioned how his showcase site “has dropdown menus.” Pardon me while I pick my jaw off the ground…
  • “An Introduction to Adobe Flex” which featured the presenter giving us a blow-by-blow account of application development. As he did it on the screen. For an hour. Ugh.
  • And finally, just to make me wonder what planet the hotel elevator took me to today, there was the old lady from Texas who (sort of) gave a presentation about how to build a website for free because “I spent $39 on my site in the last three years.” Boy howdy, did you ever. My favorite quote from her presentation, though, was definitely, “My city ain’t gonna give me money to piss away on something just ’cause I don’t wanna do the work.” That would have been right before she regaled us about how she spent all this last summer picking up and dropping off some poor high school kid who volunteered to be her “intern.”

I had so frickin’ after that session that I went cross country, through some parking lots and through a stream of pissed-off Chicago rush-hour traffic to get me some Chipotle lovin’. And then I had a beer. And then I skipped the NAGW award banquet because, quite frankly, I don’t think I’d be good company tonight.
The part that really gets me, though, is that the previous two days were so damn good. I’ve had a really useful session on prototyping, a pretty damn hard-core four hours of css presented by a genuine guru, a really inspirational keynote address by Joe Rotella, and some awesome conversations about where government websites are headed and how they’re going to get there. I’ve been out for pizza and beer with some new friends, and had more beer around a (gas fed; for shame) fire ring.

Maybe those first two days just set the bar too high…


I’m in my hotel room in St. Charles, IL, working on upgrading an ecommerce cart for one of my clients tonight. The cool thing, though, is that I’m attending the annual conference of the National Association of Government Webmasters. It’s a great smallish, youngish organization that I’m proud to be part of.

And it’s fun to get to go on a road trip, too, even if my brain suffered a meltdown in a hell of a CSS session this afternoon, and I’m hittin’ it hard again tonight. It’s all good. Especially with a little Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in the fridge. Who knew Target was so well stocked? I just went for a belt…