From…well, me: Asking for your Support to Test a Way to Get More Tech People Involved in Making Communities Better

I posted this last week at EngagingCities.  We’ve got a potential to demonstrate to a lot of tech people how they could actually make a difference in their communities.  But to get that chance, we need help.  As in, your help.

Here’s the lowdown:



I usually try to keep a relatively low profile at EngagingCities, but we need your help with something.

We have proposed a session for South By SouthWest Interactive (the tech conference part of the mega-event SXSW, held yearly in Austin, Texas.  The session that we’re proposing to do is called

Hey Techs: Yes, You Can Help Your Town. Here’s How

Here’s the game plan:

Lots and lots of people who design software, produce music, make videos, do social media stuff and lots of other types of things show up for this event.  Thousands.  There’s usually sessions on all sorts of app development, open data use, and even a few that get into social impact, but not many that actually help tech-oriented people understand exactly how they can use their skills in the places where they live to help improve the lives of the people who live there.

As a lot of the articles we’ve posted here over the last couple of months has indicated, people increasingly realize that using technology to make a difference takes more than just building a cool app — it requires understanding how local governments work, where their pain points and points of resistance are, and how to craft and maintain an online tool that makes an impact on people’s civic lives.  And for people who aren’t in the biggest cities, that can be extra tough.

So what we’re proposing is part eye-opener, part demonstration and part group exploration (in true hacker style).  If it works, it may also be a training/engagement model that we can share with you to help you open the doors to your tech/community potential in your town, as well.  We’ll post the materials and either audio or video here for your use as well (depending on what SXSW will let us do…)

A big piece of the SXSW selection process is popular vote.  So if that sounds like it might benefit you, please give us a vote — even if there’s no way you’re going to Austin. We’ll make sure you get to learn from it.  When you go to the SXSW PanelPicker, you will be prompted to create an account, but that’s just an email and password, and then you can search all of the session proposals.  You don’t have to be in the USA.  And they don’t spam unless you want them to.

Here’s the description of the session — and if the link in the last sentence doesn’t work for you, it’s

If you work in technology, the world of local government and real estate development can seem completely foreign – even though you know it affects everything around you. Learn why your local government people don’t seem to get it, understand why they have such a hard time getting things done, and how you can use your skills and connections to help make your community work better. We’ll share stories from across the world from people just like you in communities a lot like yours, and we’ll discuss together how you might be able to make a difference. Bring your good ideas and your frustrations, and get ready to discover how you can make an important difference where you live.

Voting is only open until September 7, so if you’d like to see this session offered, please vote today.



Thanks.  You’re very nice.

Della Rucker

Managing Editor, EngagingCities



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