To begin with, there are two ridiculously affordable workshops the day before the conference: one on search (being led by three luminaries in this area), one on making (being led by the awesomeness that is Ponoko).
Then there are the keynotes. Every year, I think NDF is specially staged simply in order to bring my internet crushes to Wellington so that I can come over all shy and not know what to say to them. This year the two speakers of particular interest to me are Nate Solas of the Walker Art Center (whose website has become the first reference point of almost every client I talk to) and Aaron Straup Cope (ex Flickr, ex Stamen, permanently of The Internet) who I have been quietly stalking since seeing him speak at Museums and the Web five years ago.
But perhaps most importantly, this is a conference made up of our peers. There are librarians and historians, marketing and comms folks and web managers, entrepreneurs and educators. There are people making and doing and experimenting and learning and talking inside and outside of our museums, libraries, galleries, archives and universities. There are people from all around the country - and attesting to the quality and reach of the event, 11 presentations from people from outside New Zealand, not counting the keynotes.
I feel privileged to have been as involved in NDF as I have been. It is an astounding community, full of smart and committed people who are always willing to give each other a hand, an idea, a schema, a sympathetic ear, a kick in the pants. I was talking to a speaker from several NDFs ago recently - a visitor who has become a dear friend - and he said coming to the conference changed his life. He had never seen a community like it. And I think he's right. If you need to sell attendance to your manager, don't just look at what you'll learn from the two or three or four days. Talk about the value you'll get from becoming part of a community that is always sharing and learning from each other.
And if you need some hard data, here's a couple of stats from the 2011 conference:
- 84% rated the conference content as 'excellent' or 'very good'
- 85% of attendees who completed the feedback survey rated the value for money as 'excellent' or 'very good'.
- 90% reported their overall satisfaction with the conference as 'excellent' or 'very good'.
THE IMPORTANT BITS
National Digital Forum conference
Pre-conference workshops: Monday 19 November, $10 each
Conference proper: Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 November, $425 (early bird rate for members, closes 9 October)*
THAT Camp, Thursday 22 November, $20
There is a travel subsidy on offer from National Services Te Paerangi of up to $300.
*Membership of NDF is free, and entitles you to stand for the Board, vote in Board elections, and get handy conference subsidies.