City Camp MN: Introductions, Ignite Sessions and Session Grids, Oh My!

Steven Clift introduced City Camp Minnesota. He is director of and leads a class at the Humphrey School. His class is helping to run this unconference. Food has been provided thanks to a number of sponsors.

While yesterday was 11/11/11, City Camp MN is taking place on 11/11/11 +1.

Session ideas were posted on a board and voted on with stickers. In a magic room, that will be used to help determine which sessions we have today. If we don’t like what was picked, vote with our feet!

Four principles of UnConferences. This is Open Space!

  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened
  • When it starts is the right time
  • When itŠs over, it’s over

The Law of Two Feet: If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t learning, go to another room. Anti-Minnesota Nice, but go with it!

We will be tweeting on the hashtag #citycampn. Tag pics and vids with citycampmn. Post to the Tumblr Blog at

Who is here at City Camp MN? Hopefully many types of people! Trying to connect the government world with the non-government world. We have a nice mix here today.

We went around the room and introduced ourselves with our name, place, organization and just three words. We will have a Word Cloud at the end. My three were usability, accessibility and Drupal.

Interesting word combos include Go Pack Go and Let It Snow. Boo to both of those! Couple others had Drupal. Woo hoo! GIS guy had Because Where Matters was pretty clever. Another good one: Don’ Tweet, Doorknock. Dual Fiber Fanatic: yes! Liked Digitally Inclusive Communities. One of the last ones was Let’s Do This. Final one: Library Hacker Space. Steven’s was Connect Neighbors Globally.

City Camps have happened around the world. You can learn more at the City Camp Exchange. Also, join the local City Camp planning group to keep the conversation going after this event.

Next, people promoted their session ideas at a mic. Sessions should be discussion-oriented. At the end of each sessions, somebody will give a one-or-two minute video recap on a Flip Cam. We can watch those later.

I promoted my session idea: Screen Size Chaos. How can we use techniques like responsive web design to adapt across screen sizes?

This uncoference certainly feels organic, but we are spending at least 33% of our time today on introductions and picking what sessions we will have. I would sort of rather use that time for discussion on topics. Maybe that’s just me.

Ignite sessions

IT Vision

Otto Doll, CIO, City of Minneapolis

Want to leverage our tech for 21st century. Try to be digitally inspired. Two pillars: city workforce and the public, residents or businesses.

Need to create collaborative environment for workforce across all departments. Tornado good example of how entire city mobilized around disaster area, working together: afterwards, went back to own areas. Need to maintain that collaboration.

Need mobile computing to be able to do things in real time wherever we are. Need real-time integrated information.

To do all of this, need to digitize the city. Turn the city into 0s and 1s. Create data on every aspect of how city runs. Should be running city like mission control at NASA runs the space program.

For the public, how we interact with the city needs to evolve. Not just social media. Where are the two-way conversations? What data should we make availalbe to all?

As part of this, we need to close the digital divide. Digital inclusion levels the playing field. Cool Venn diagram about this, not enough time to capture it.

Stay enthusiastic!

Social Media’s Role in Cost-Effective Digital Communications

Scott Burns, Gov Delivery

Number of people here on GovLoop. GovDelivery owns it. Unconference every day.

GovDelivery works with 400 examples: lots of examples.

Social media like puppies. Even if free, takes a lot of work to turn it into a dog that doesn’t create a ton of mess and that is a good companion.

Identify opportunites in the crowd. What if only one guy cares about a particular topic? He can contact gov, gov can reply with resources just for that guy. He passes it on to his community.

Takes time to earn trust. You don’t throw kids in the air right away, unless you are a careless uncle. Need to leverage trust people already have: if people pass on your info to others, they trust it more.

  • Help build audience
  • Encourage content sharing and trust
  • Enable user interaction with content
  • Reach users that will not otherwise sign-up for updates or visit website
  • Find out what information people care about: this is invaluable


  1. Increase focus on the numbers that drive value: need numbers to create rich to spread information and create value.
  2. Would you like fries with that? Cross promotion: upsell!


Didn’t catch speaker’s name. If you know, let me know!

Almost everything has to be done online, but cost of getting online getting more expensive. Hard for people with low income, other priorities like children, to get online.

E-democracy looked at how to create inclusion. How can we combine face-to-face interactions with online interactions?

In Seward neighborhood, very low access to the internet, but need for a lot of resources and to reach these resources. Augsburg and farmers around the state have given out coupons for Farmers’ Market, but people weren’t using them, even if slipped under door. Went to community leaders. Talked. Sellers often Hmong immigrants, buyers often Somali immigrants. Ate different vegetables. Talked to community leaders to help improve how things worked.

When we talk about technology, make sure to engage people and think about how we do things when people do not have online access. Don’t want to leave people behind. Need to make conscientious effort to target those groups.

Your City Map is in my Open Source! Your Open Source is in my City Map!

Peter Wickman, Northstar Geographics

Lots of open source advocates here. Some people have done open source mapping work. Tips for how to do this without being shackled to proprietary providers.

Three great tastes that go together:

  • OpenLayers: API
  • OpenStreetMap: Data
  • TileMill: Cartography


  • Pure JS for displaying map data
  • No server-side dependencies
  • Like Google, but no handcuffs! Google licensing can get to $10k for commercial applications
  • Many data sources (KML, GeoRSS, Google, Bing)
  • v2.11: mobile support, mobile gestures, compile for native apps

OpenStreetMap: Data

  • The wiki fo mapping data
  • User driven mapping content: Street changes, users can edit
  • Like Google, but no handcuffs!

TileMill: Cartography

  • Application for making beautiful maps
  • Know CSS? You’ll be right at home

Good Maps Kick Butt!

Using Social Media for Social Change

Bud Fisher, Advocate Interactive

Works with non-profits to help them get the most from their social media.

Using social media for change:

  • Participative web rewrote the game
  • Technology amplifies involvement
  • Any engagement strengthens citizenship

Don’t but into Culture of Slacktivists. Any engagements are civic participation.

45% of adults had democratic engagement online. 89% of largest nonprofits use social media to engage supporters. 300% increase in messages sent to Congress in the past decade. That is activism at work!

Keys to create change:

  • Enablers: Low threshold to participation, granular tasks, shared ownership, equipotentiality
  • Principles: Openness towards new users, self-governance, pride in achievements: creates energy to keep moving forward
  • Trends: E-governance, gaming, cross-platform, integration, mobile/location-based: if you don’t jump on trends right away, at least stay aware

Be an oxymoron

Use innovative tools
But it’s not about the tools
Get people offline
By getting the online
Watch out for community
it makes people anonymous
Big change
Starts small

Start your your revolution:

  • Small is the new big, budget does not equal suces, it all begins with a tweet

Community information network: Crowdsourcing an information architecture

Peter Fleck, @pfhyper, Seward Community Online

Creating a network of information within neighborhoods. His site is not just a news site, but a way for journalists to connect and find info of what is happening in neighborhood. Also helps neighbors know what is going on. When people see each other online and then see each other in person, they sometimes make connections based on that recognition.

It’s not software or platforms. It’s humans.

  • Volunteer efforts
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Sustaining
  • Blongging

Gathering various threads relating to your neighborhood

  • Not everyone in community on Twitter. Email may be better. Use variety of tools
  • Community meeting muntes (blog, forum)
  • Community police reports (blog, forum)
  • Event listings (calendar, blog, forum)

Likes Posterous, but Tumblr, blogger, and are all great. (Also, check out Drupal Gardens: that’s my thought, not his)

Make the case that a communication network is a top priority in the neighborhood. Consider digital divide. Make sure digital bleeds to the real.

Seward pieces:

  • Forum
  • Blog
  • Calendar
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Flickr, Google+
  • Youtube, Scribd

Can use Posterous to populate your information to all these networks.

Session discussion

Looking at session grid now. Now the decisions start! Think I’ll go to mobile web in first session, in Room 15. Might go to government webmaster lunch roundtable during second set of sessions.

Hmm, third group has my screensize chaos idea put together with design and visual accessibility. So do I still go to first session on mobile web? Fighting Crime one sounds interesting, too. We are encouraged to switch, so I can always do that if I like.

Okay, now design and visual accessibility session is now about visualizing data. Huh. Screensize chaos will be in mobile web session at beginning. Scott Burns’ session on saving money through new technologies may be good.

Fourth group of sessions. Mapping session might be good. Encourage participation in local elections through social media.