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I’ve had a couple of days now to reflect on what the 2009 ASAE Annual Meeting taught me. Learning is what it’s all about, no? Educational sessions, “Thought Leaders”, social media opportunities, vendor products and last but certainly not least, networking. Yes, each of these areas taught me one or more somethings, but not necessarily what I thought I would be learning.  So, in no particular order, here are some of the highlights for me of #asae09.

1. Realizing what a great divide there seems to be between associations who are unafraid to understand what it may take to move forward, what tools are needed now, what trends to watch– and those  who don’t appear to realize business is not “as usual” even if what they are doing is working today. “Today” is a short period of time if you think about it.

Social Media is a key indicator of this divide, as conversations with others showed me. Those who understand the potential and use it now;  those who know there’s an unknown element and risk involved, but who are willing to try; vs. those who are “leaving it to the younger crowd”- -for which I responded with the well publicized statistic that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is women between the ages of 55-65.

2. Once again, learning much valuable information, whether from insightful people such as Gary Hamel, Li, Shirky, or Jeff De Cagna’s wonderful, thought provoking session looking toward the future (including his recent post about 2010), and other sessions of importance to me and what I needed to learn for my organization — to Fareed Zakaria’s closing session (once we finally got to him!). I agree with my fellow twitterer @bkmcae, who thought FZwas a brilliant writer but not the best of speakers. I bought his book and already can tell how much I will learn.

Were the sessions relevant to what associations needs are today/tomorrow? Only each attendee can answer that as we vary so. Don’t know if this is feasible for 2010 or beyond, but it would be great to indicate “for beginners” or “advanced”, etc, per each session description. Many of the social media sessions could have been tagged in that manner – so that those who needed the “how to” could get that info, while those looking for “ok you have it, now how do you maximize it, measure it, get ideas from it” could focus, exchange experiences, etc.

3. Really enjoyed the whole “twitter thing” (I am @christytj).  Not only learning from other’s tweets (found myself checking out #asae09 constantly for new info or insight), but discovering that there were so many folks who couldn’t attend the conference who were closely following our tweets and seemed to learn right along with us.  How useful this was too for staff who couldn’t attend, who passed along questions via tweets that were answered by some session speakers directly. How cool was that!

Maybe ASAE should get all 2010 session speakers into tweeting for increased communication before, during and after! Or Facebook, or podcasts, or whatever form of social media is hitting it’s peak next summer.

4. Also am seriously thinking about the questions that are being raised now via post #asae09 conversations. Do I think dues paying membership organizations are a thing of the past? Do I think social media is the only wave of the now & future? Do I think ASAE can change so much between now and 2010 (can any of us)? Will I find the answers in any of the books I bought during #asae09? In reviewing the sessions online? In the tweet exchanges? On Facebook or online articles? Probably not all of the answers, but certainly a lot of input that would never had occurred to me if I didn’t review any of these resources.

In case you missed it: content availability: ASAE’s the Hub has made it easy to find opinions, videos, Twitters, etc. I found I didn’t visit it as often as I should have as I was caught up in tweeting myself  but check it out if you haven’t. Also – just remembered, the book “Free” by Chris Anderson (of Wired mag) was mentioned over and over again – I’ll be getting that too.

And lastly as I sit and face piles of catch up work (yikes), I smile as I think of the numerous conversations I had (and am still having) with old/new friends from #asae09, whether in person, or via any form of Social Media. Can’t wait to continue these, I think of them as the “future is now” chats as I face forward to catch new ideas, new concepts, new things that worked for someone else and take advantage! Thanks.

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A recent article as disseminated by @welovecrowds this morning on twitter, reports on a finding by LexisNexis that there is a distinct gap between the Boomers (44 – 60) and Generation X (29-43) and Gen Y (28 and younger). I liked this article because while it reports on the findings, it also questions the analysis done. Who did they interview, a bunch of stuffy “lawyers” (love that!)? How did they come up with the finding that Gen Y spends 22.9 hours a day on social media? Guess they forgot what that age group would rather be spending 22.9 hours doing.

Per their age definition, I fit in the Boomer category. Per their findings, I fit in the Gen X with leanings toward Gen Y. I’m an inveterate multi-tasker, on my desktop at any given moment you can find Word, Excel, my organization’s web site, Yahoo, WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, CNN, Google as I explore new sites and yet even Internet Explorer. In the evenings or weekends, you will also find me, if I’m at my computer at all, in at least three or four of those sites, plus others and now in Second Life too, where speaking of reports, the fastest growing demographic is 50 + (as with FaceBook).

Yes, I think there is a gap between the ages (isn’t there always), in the tech area. But I don’t think it’s as great as the study portrays. Much of the gap stems from how experienced a user is with different platforms and the obvious is the younger you are, especially since schools use so much technology these days, the more time and varied experience you have with these things. And it’s not just the laptop of course, it’s the smartphone (where I not only talk or web surf, but have at any given time at least a half a dozen books to read in case I’m stuck anywhere), it’s the MP3 device, it’s even the vacuum that moves itself (I’ve yet to get one of those, sigh).

I may be older, but my sense of exploration, whether new worlds in real life or via technology, is as keen as my niece’s who at 25 believes life without IMing would be like a pub without beer. The difference? I believe in active conversation with full attention, she believes in active conversation with one eye and two fingers on her phone. I’m getting used to it as I recognize it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t listen any less to me — well, any less than someone 25 ever listens to someone older. It’s just a different “listen” and that’s ok by me. In fact, I know that I’ve been the one she’s been exchanging e-chat with while at dinner with others, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

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Exploring this old/new world of social media, I’m finding numerous points of view around the pros and cons of a newish tool like twitter. Maureen Dowd of the NYTimes wrote of an interview she had with the inventors of Twitter, one of them Biz Stone.  I found myself chuckling at her attempt to belittle this new medium and loving Biz’s answers, the last in particular when she asks,

ME: I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account. Is there anything you can say to change my mind?

BIZ: Well, when you do find yourself in that position, you’re gonna want Twitter. You might want to type out the message “Help.”

I learned of a new Twitter application (apparently there are thousands), Tweetmeme which shows you at any given time, which are the most popular tweets. Low and behold there was a tweet with a link to a response to Dowds NYTime article, from Bldg/Blog, an architectural based blogger who wrote, “In defense of how the other half writes, in defense of twitter.” So within a matter of hours of Dowd’s article, there was a full blown response from an unexpected audience (architects), that is making it’s way around the world via Tweetmeme.  Hmmm.. makes you get a sense of the power behind the tweet.

A tweeter (@real1) listed interesting links to news tweets that give news before it makes the headlines, including @cnnbrk, and @breakingnews. I like @fastcompany, @anncurry, @nytimeskristoff, and @greenbizdaily. As to other types of tweets, yes, I’m now following @oprah like millions of other people and also enjoy @aauw and @punditmom for information impacting women and girls; @cynthiadamour and @pinnovation for association leaders; @pattyhankins for great photography info; and @mashable for social media info. And these are just from being on twitter for a very short time.  There are thousands of twitterers  now and more to come, keeping up with them all is the real question.

Even in the short time I’ve been tweeting (@christytj) or following news or personal tweets, I find access to information I’m interested in but didn’t have to search for has multiplied exponentially. And that’s a good thing.

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