Topics not usually heard at a tech conference – Courage and Global Warming

This morning at WITI Cindy Solomon gave a keynote on courage – what it is and how to bring it into your work and life. It was quite introspective not a typical talk at any of the tech conferences I go to.

At lunch we had a talk about climate change – we got the science talk from a ‘government scientist’ this was really boring since Al Gore did the best PPT ever on the topic and made it a movie. I didn’t need to have a science lecture. It was very refreshing though to have this topic raised. I have never heard it spoken about at a tech conference (except for Planetwork). If other tech conferences could learn something from WITI is that topics related to inner work – like self-reflection, personal development and leadership and that topics related to the outer world like Climate Change have a place in the mix of topics.

You know I think combining these two would be a great theme for the tech industry to consider – “Courage to face Global Warming” Anyways.

At lunch I had a good conversation with Sumi Panchal from San Jose. She shared with me some of the ‘origin stories’ of WITI. This information helped me understand way more about what this whole scene was about. It reminds me of the importance of story telling for organizational culture formation and the transference.

WITI was founded in 1989 and in part to support women who were working in regular professions, medical, dentel, legal etc. who had no training really in computers but now found them coming into their work place. WITI was a place to go and learn about them.

Web 2.0 – at WITI they forgot that means WIFI in the conference rooms.

Robin Raskin ‘the internet mom’ has a site called Raising Digital Kids and blogs for Yahoo! Tech. She lead the ‘What is web 2.0?’ panel. She did a great job of helping orient the mostly ‘I work in large corporate IT’ folks. The woman who worked for Microsoft highlighted that it was a way of thinking in response to the people who wanted to ‘get the tools.’

Apparently it is a way of thinking the folks at WITI (Women in Technology International) have not picked up on yet. There is no wifi here except for ‘in the lobby’ that you have to pay $10 for and it has no outgoing SMTP [Why do you pay $10 and still not have working outgoing email tell me that tmoblie].

I knew the sessions here would be marginally interesting to me but that I would have a fine day listening while I kept up with e-mail, blogged and did my every day stuff. I also sort of naively thought their might be opportunities to interact with and connect to the women here but it seems to be all talking heads panels (it makes me long for an unconference). I will get my fix of those in the next two weeks as I facilitate both Startup Camp and Ruby on Rails Camp. Johannes and I are going to lead a session at Startup Camp on Identity on Friday morning in the second session.

During the session:
NO one has a computer open….
and No one cares there is no internet
These were the statistics for usage of the following tools in a room of 100.

  • Digg(5),
  • Flickr (3),
  • Wikipedia (3) 1/2 use it to look stuff up
  • (6)

Anyways. This group has a ways to go to get hip with the latest in technology. I just spoke with Robin Raskin and she said the audience is 1/2 corporate types and 1/2 independent both of which need to know about the lastest stuff because it is changing everything rapidly.

Play Clueful or Blame Bingo

Users matter. They matter a lot when it comes to user-centric identity. I think we as a community have a lot to work on in the UX (user-experience) department to figure out how to make all these protocols actually work for people (clearly the underlying architecture is there to do some cool stuff – what the ‘stuff’ is and how it actually works is the territory we are getting into.)

Cathy Sierra has this post “oops…we forgot about the users.” up on actually listening to users. We can play