NetSquared Camps: A Pilot in Convening Locally

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When we launched the NetSquared conference in 2005, our premise was simple.  We set out to produce an event that brought together people working in the public and private sector who were interested in the potential of web-based tools and strategies to transform the way entrepreneurial nonprofits and social innovators operate.  The conference, held at Cisco’s headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley, brought together around 300 people from foundations, corporate developer networks, and entrepreneurial social innovators working at the intersection of technology and social–change projects.

Over the last four years, the annual conference has been a success on so many levels. 

  • Since 2005, more than (50) social-change projects have had a first-of-its kind opportunity to pitch their work in front of an exceptional crowd of technologists.
  • Over $375k in cash-prizes have been awarded to more than 50 social innovation projects.
  • NetSquared projects have gone on to grab headlines. Ushahidi, the first place winner from the Mashup Challenge in 2008 is a TED fellow. SeeClickFix, one of the top (3) winners from last year’s Mobile Challenge continues to grab headlines in Business Week and Fast Company as “one to watch”. Just to name a few.

Behind The Buzz.

Beyond the success and buzz of the annual conference lies an even more important story that is informing the way we move forward in 2010. I want to share that story with you now.

Since our first conference, NetSquared’s community has grown from the 300 or so people who showed up at the first year’s conference into a global community of 40,000+ people around the world. A sub-set of this group has been ‘stepping up’ to demonstrate leadership in ways we never could have imagined.

Local is the New Global.

NetSquared Camps pilotIn more than 67 cities around the globe, community members have begun organizing NetSquared Local events focused on bringing together the same inter-disciplinary group of people at local events every single month. Today, more than 22,000 people are signed-up for local NetSquared events around the world.

Building on the momentum of local activities happening around the globe, NetSquared Camps seek to exponentially increase the level of access to the people, organizations, tools and resources for communities working at the intersection of technology and social change.  The Camp model rips directly from the success of self-organizing formats like Barcamp, while integrating the lessons we’ve learned in developing an inter-disciplinary approach to convening over the last four years.  Our Camps provide a framework for collaboration for people with the tools, resources and projects to come together to help accelerate world-changing ideas.  

This summer, we’ll be supporting the launch of (4) separate Camps in as many cities around the world. Iterative by design, the goal of our first series of Camps is to learn as much as we can about the current appetite in the sector for integration of new tools and new allies. We would expect to move from there to identifying needs, and meeting them.

2010 Pilot

Here’s a snapshot of where these events will happen:

What’s Next?

Naturally, the convergence of online and offline activities provides both innovators -- and their supporters -- with numerous ways to contribute.  To learn more, register, and contribute to the event near you, visit the Camps page.  And stay tuned for more about activities across the network via Amy’s blog.
As always, we welcome your feedback and ideas in the comments section, or via email.