Thornton May

Thornton May gave the keynote presentation this morning. His presentation was all over the place but generally talked about how we should think about future technology in a way that doesn’t introduce bias from our current frame of mind.

It basically boiled down to being careful the questions you ask, referencing the old chestnut of IBM comissioning a market study that said the worldwide demand for computers at the time was 50. However, the question that report asked was what was the demand for computers that can break codes and calculate artillery trajectories. Given that question, it was an accurate answer but was not about the demand for computers that could solve lots of productivity challenges for any corporation.

ASAE Technology Strategies and Solutions Conference

We have wireless access at ASAE’s tech meeting that kicks off today, so hopefully I’ll be able to post a few blog entries from on site this week. In fact, I’m posting this from the opening session via the toll wireless at the Reagan Building in DC.

If you are at the meeting, I’ll be speaking in the Web Site Usability workshop and the Web Management session. Should be good stuff. The management session will deal with how to manage the politics of web design and management within an association, a tough issue that most people have challenges with.

My First Podcast

Jeff De Cagna and I are partnering up on a presentation for ASAE’s Great Ideas conferences where we will introduce podcasting and discuss its possible use by associations. The fun part is that we will actually record and assemble a podcast during the session by recording interviews with some of the attendees.

The Distance Learning Coalition was kind enough to invite Jeff and I to present to their group on Thursday, which was a wonderful opportunity for us to make a dry run through our material and the process of recording with a live group. Here is the podcast if you would like to listen to it. Two of the attendees decided to hijack our podcast and record their own mini show within ours, which was a lot of fun.

Jeff and I pre-recorded some sections of the podcast via a Skype call. As you can tell, I need to get a much better microphone for these things.

Online Directories Idea Swap Report

So there were about 10 people who attended the Idea Swap last night. Roughly equal mix of association staff and vendor/consultant types. I didn’t hear any revolutionary ideas but I did hear something interesting about what associations think about as they consider an online directory.

The biggest factors for associations creating online directories seemed to fall into one of two areas: preserving print-based advertising revenue or cutting costs by ceasing printing of the dead tree directory. What was missing from the conversation was discussion about creating value for members via an online directory. Revenue and cost are valid concerns but shouldn’t they really be secondary to what will create the most value for the association’s members?

Creating crippled online directories just to preserve some existing revenue streams doesn’t tell your members that you are keeping their interest front and center. Once they get that perception, you renewals will drop and then those other revenue streams will go away too. Then what?

I think associations are really going to have to get back to basics as the web continues to disrupt existing revenue models. It won’t be easy but they have to address value for members if they want to remain healthy organizations.

Flying Home

I’m on my way home from the ASAE Annual meeting in Nashville after a busy week. Overall, I think the conference was a big success for ASAE and the Center and was pretty good for me as well.

I’ll post a bit more about it once I’m home and have slept for 12 hours. In the mean time, check out the conference blog that I and a bunch of other volunteers contributed to.

ASAE's Annual Meeting Event Blog

I am participating in ASAE’s Annual Meeting Event blog, which just launched yesterday. My first post there is about a Flickr group we have set up for attendees to use to share photos they take during the event. If you are an association person (or want to be!) I suggest subscribing to this blog to see what is going on at the meeting.

Sue complained about the title of the blog (which is “XtremeASAE Blog”). I have to agree that the X theme is a bit tired these days but, as Jeff pointed out in a comment on Sue’s post, we’re just going with the theme established for the meeting. Rumors of bungee jumping from the top of the Opryland glass dome have no basis in fact whatsoever.


Rich just discovered EVDB. EVDB is a site for posting information about events. I got early word about the site via The Well since one of the founders posted about it there. I created an event record for the ASAE Annual meeting in Nashville a while back.

One way this could be used is for people blogging about an event to ping the event record in EVDB to keep a central log of all the activity. Here is the trackback URL for the ASAE Annual meeting record on EVDB: