Live From SXSW

One of the largest entertainment festivals in the country, South By Southwest (SXSW) kicked off last Friday in Austin, Tex. The event is a mecca for music film, and entertainment fans, as well as people interested in hearing about the latest advancements in social media and other technologies. Prominent panel speakers have already taken the stage, including former Vice President Al Gore, Napster founder Sean Parker, and author and scientist Ray Kurzweil.

Amy Sample Ward of NTEN is covering SxSW for The NonProfit Times and will be filing blog posts throughout the event. You can follow her posts for us on our website or click the links below:
We will be posting new articles to the site as they come. Keep an eye on our Live From SXSW Feed for the latest updates.

Vote for WordPress Sessions at SXSW

Each year, members of the web community from around the world submit session proposals to the South by Southwest Interactive conference, an event that played a role in the birth of WordPress. We head to Austin every year, do a BBQ or throw a party, but despite the fact that almost 15% of the web is powered by WordPress, there aren’t many sessions related to WordPress on the schedule. This year, more than 3200 proposals are competing for about 350 slots, and who has time to read through, vote, and comment on 3200 proposals? Out of those 3200+ proposals, only 8 relate to WordPress! I thought it would be handy to post a guide to the WordPressy proposals for SXSWi 2012, so that if you would like to check them out and vote on them it woud be fast and easy. Leaving a comment in addition to your thumbs up/down vote helps the staff and advisory board know which sessions are likely to have an interested audience, so make sure to leave comments on the sessions you think would be cool (remember, they also publish the podcasts afterward). Voting ends in about 24 hours, so if you want to weigh in, now’s the time. Thanks for helping spread the word!

WordPress-specific Sessions

This list is based on searching for “WordPress” in proposal titles, descriptions, and tags. Clicking the proposal title will take you to that page in the SXSW PanelPicker, where you can vote and comment. Names that are linked go to those people’s profiles.

Blog Wars: Movable Type vs. WordPress Revisited

Mark Jaquith – WordPress Lead Developer
Byrne Reese – Endevver
These days people tend to pit us against Drupal rather than Movable Type, but looking back at the early rivalry and learning from the positive and negative aspects of it would be cool as we position ourselves in competition with new platforms. I like seeing Mark present at conferences, he always prepares well and does a good job. Though I’m guessing these guys will be all friendly and collaborative, I might take a nostalgia hit and imagine them in a fistfight just to liven things up. :)

Designing WordPress

Jane Wells – WordPress User Experience Lead
Disclosure: This is me! Balancing the desire for truly open and participatory design processes against the often more efficient and consistent results of a more curated design method is something we’ve been working on for the past year or so in WordPress core. I’d use the design process for several recent core features (like the UI refresh and internal linking) to illustrate the issues we’ve faced and the results we’ve achieved.

Open Source Social Networking

John James Jacoby – BuddyPress Lead Developer
J-trip (as John James Jacoby is fondly known by many in the community) is the lead dev for BuddyPress and the new bbPress plugin. He’s proposing a panel discussion among reps from several open source social network platforms. It’s always cool hearing more about BuddyPress, but it would be even cooler to figure out how it fits in with and/or stacks up against other platforms.

Welcome to the Chaos – the Distributed Workplace

Nikolay Bachiyski – WordPress Core Developer, GlotPress Lead Developer
Lori McLeese – Automattic
This one isn’t about WordPress per se, though using WordPress as a communication tool is one of the topics and Automattic is obviously a WordPress-based business. The main reason I think people should vote for this session is because Nikolay, core committing developer for internationalization and lead developer of GlotPress, our translation tool, is an awesome speaker. He is hysterically funny when he presents. I would bet money this presentation will involve a bear.

Deploying WordPress: From Zero to Ninja

Grant Norwood – Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
When Mark Jaquith says a presentation on security and deployment is on his short list, I’m impressed. (He said it in the comments on the proposal.)

Beyond the Theme – Using WordPress as an API

David Tufts –
Obviously a hot topic in the community right now, seems like a no-brainer to choose.

Local Government Online: WordPress Beats Drupal

Jase Wilson – Luminopolis
There was a presentation at WordCamp San Francisco this month on moving a news site from Drupal to WordPress. More and more the question comes up of which tool is best for various situations and requirements. And obviously getting government to use more open source software would be a cost-saver in these tough economic times.

WordPress website built live in 45 minutes

Glenn Todd – Dvize Creative
Live walkthroughs are always fun, and help prove to the uninitiated how easy WordPress can be.

So: go vote on these session proposals and help spread the WordPress love. If you know of any WordPress-related proposals that didn’t come up in my search, let me know in a comment and I’ll update this post. Thanks, and maybe we’ll see you in Austin in March!

Retro Article Of The Week: Hurricane Katrina And Nonprofits

Hurricane Irene caused havoc up and down the East coast over the weekend.  It caused major flooding, power outages, and some loss of life, but we should consider ourselves lucky we didn't have another Katrina on our hands.  That fateful storm struck 6 years ago, and we all know the damage and chaos it caused.  The storm hit during what was supposed to be the Community Action Partnership's (CAP) annual convention, which was being held in New Orleans that year.  In our October 1st, 2005 issue, we wrote about the impact Katrina had on conferences in New Orleans:

As Category 4 winds battered New Orleans approximately 300 people huddled in the confines of The New Orleans Marriott hotel just steps from the historic French Quarter. The accommodations were modest -- cots set up on the facility’s ballroom floor became a safe haven from the danger of flying glass shards from broken windows.

The tenor was a far cry from the buzzing activity of what was intended to be the Community Action Partnership’s (CAP) annual convention. Three of the CAP staff, one member of its board and some of its delegates were among those waiting out the storm.

“We were getting updates from the hotel staff and some people had the small, transistor-like radios,” recounted Brian Peterkin-Vertanesian, J.D., vice president for programs, and grants management, one of CAPs staff holed up at the Marriott.

“Things were mostly calm, although people did get a little more worried when we heard what was going on with the problems at the Superdome. You could tell that people were a little nervous but most were resigned to being there for a couple of days.”

New Orleans was a top convention city, with numerous charities and associations having to cancel or move their biggest revenue generator of the year.

Located near the Mississippi River, the area immediate to the Marriott was spared the deep flood water resulting from the broken levees on the 17th Street Canal in the western part of the city and the Industrial Canal on the east side.

Once the brunt of the storm had passed, Marriott allowed its guests to use the one functioning elevator to retrieve personal items from their rooms. When Peterkin-Vertanesian was able to look outside to assess the damage, he reported seeing blown out windows and flood water that had halted approximately a block away from the hotel.

During his time in the Marriott ballroom Peterkin-Vertanesian befriended a woman and her son, who worked at the Marriott. It was through that relationship that he was able to hop a 1 a.m. ride out of town after the storm had passed. Other than a strong police presence blocking off impassable roadways, Peterkin-Vertanesian described the departing trip as “not much of a problem.”

The magnitude of the disaster didn’t fully hit him until he arrived back in Washington, D.C. “I usually don’t tend to watch a tremendous amount of television coverage of these events -- with the tsunami and 9/11, I wasn’t tuned in 24/7 like a lot of people,” he explained. “But I took a few days off and watched it with my wife. I’ve been to New Orleans many times, I love jazz, and this was just totally devastating.”

You can read the rest of this article over on our website.