Federal NDP Leadership Poll

The Federal NDP is in a leadership race, which means that candidates who have paid their entrance fee have access to the membership list, some 100,000 Canadians like myself. As a political observer and data fiend, who had access to such a list myself only this spring, I love watching to see how people make use of it: do we get the standard policy screed, the informative candidate-is-visiting message, or something more devious… like the below! So, an email arrives stating:

Dear Member of NDP,

I would really appreciate your participation in a study we’re currently conducting amongst members of the federal NDP.

I recognize that you’re busy, so this survey is very straightforward and can easily be completed online at your convenience, in about 15 minutes. Please complete the survey before Tuesday November 15th.

All information provided by respondents will be kept strictly confidential and used only for legitimate research purposes. Study sponsors will not have access to your name, address or phone number.

To begin the survey, simply click on the link below. If your email does not support hotlinks, copy and paste the link into your browser.

http://…omitted…

If you encounter any problems, please contact me at the e-mail address below.

Thank you in advance for participating in our survey.

Regards,

Agnes Klich Project Management Team Leader klich@logitgroup.com

The fact that they have the NDP membership list, and the content of the poll, lead me to believe it is associated with a leadership campaign in some way. But it’s been done anonymously. The campaign that has done this both (a) gets the data and (b) pretty much ensures that anyone else trying the same gambit will get a much lower response rate. The poll itself is very long, I wonder how many full responses they get? I also wonder if there will be any blowback for using the list in this way? Based on the content of the poll, which campaign do you think is behind it? If the answer seems obvious, and you think there will be blowback, could the poll in fact be the product of a different campaign? Ain’t politics grand?

Update: Just to leave no stone unturned, I asked the researcher who commissioned the study, but the answer is not illuminating:

The Logit Group is a Gold Seal Member Agency of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Associaton (MRIA), Canada’s governing body for all market research firms. As such, we conform to all regulations related to privacy and confidentiality. In this instance, the organization that provided us with member lists required that the survey be completed in a confidential, or “blind” method (whereby the survey sponsor was not identified at the outset). In return, the responses of individual members (such as yourself) would not be attributed to you specifically when reported back (survey findings would only be provided in aggregate form).

Manager, Strategic Management

Every week, LinkedIn kindly sends me a list of “jobs I might be interested in”, which I have to say is an interesting feature, given the data they have to work with. Like the early days of Google advertising, it’s fun to see what the algorithm comes up with as “relevant” to me. And this week I got this awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome entry:

Manager, Strategic Management
The Manager, Strategic Management is accountable for leading the development, maintenance and evaluation of corporate planning, performance management, benchmarking, risk management, and reporting programs. The position reports to the Chief Executive Officer of BC Assessment and works directly with the governing Board of Directors to facilitate strategic planning and risk management sessions. The position exercises considerable latitude and independence to oversee and develop a coordinated and consultative corporate plan, risk and performance management culture across BC Assessment. In this role, the position is expected to manage the corporate planning cycle to achieve a top to bottom linking of mandate and vision of operational business activities including the annual and year-over-year alignment of budgets, resource allocation, performance and risk management programs. This position leads a small team, including senior program analysts and a research officer.

People I trust tell me BC Assessment has so much money, they really do eat $16 muffins for breakfast, but the existence of the “Manager, Strategic Management” is all the proof I need.

FOSS4G 2011 Keynote

Here’s my latest foray into the wild and wacky world of Speaking in Front of Too Many People: a keynote slot at FOSS4G 2011. Fortunately a quick 20 minutes, and well received!

Architecture of Participation

I told a number of folks at FOSS4G 2011 that I thought this year’s event was the “best FOSS4G ever” (HT, Juan Antonio Samaranch) but that wasn’t just tongue in cheek. 2011 was the biggest ever, but only a few attendees more than Barcelona in 2010. Yet somehow I felt more energized, more connected, like I had more conversations, than in 2010.

I think the reason for my impression has a lot to do with venue. Barcelona was in a very large conference center, with the rooms fairly spread out and almost too much room for people to expand into. Further, there were no large social areas near the venue. The result was the attendees dissipating after the end of the day’s programming.

In Denver, many of the attendees were in the Sheraton, co-located with the program venue. The Winkoop brewery provided a space sufficient to bring in hundreds of attendees for the welcome social. The Sheraton building itself included two pubs capable of seating hundreds, and hundreds of attendees did in fact sit there. The gravitational effect was of people walking by, seeing their FOSS4G comrades, and joining in the group themselves. It was hard to drink alone at FOSS4G 2011!

We had a similar dynamic in 2007, though honestly, not as good, since our “main meeting pub” was closed one night for a private event, and we never had the thought to simply book it ourselves for our own group (live and learn). Nor were we able to co-locate the event with a conference hotel (using the Empress Hotel which abuts the Victoria convention centre would have been prohibitively expensive.)

I think the lesson for future organizers is to thing very carefully about venue and connectivity and social gravity. Ensure there is a social space where many can fit and can find each other for fortuitous meetings. Try to keep all the components of the event (venue, rooms, social areas) as close together as possible. Give as many opportunities (welcome social, random social, exhibitors social, event gala) for mixing as possible. Avoid the sit-down event (which locks folks into a handful of interlocutors) in favour of the stand-up (which allows free flowing).

Seeing how well Denver did makes me almost want to try again and see if I can do better. Almost.

FOSS4G Time

A journey of 1000 miles starts with one step, and if you’re wondering whether open source is in your future, the first step should be a trip to FOSS4G 2011 in Denver this year.

My favorite local open source geospatial success story, Pierce County, in Washington, started four years ago, when the GIS manager sent a small contingent north to attend FOSS4G 2007 in Victoria. From the knowledge and enthusiasm garnered there they have been able to start to re-make their infrastructure into a flexible mixed environment of open source and proprietary tools.

But it all starts with the basic knowledge. What’s out there? Who can build with it? What are the best choices? You’ll never have a more concentrated opportunity to answer all your questions about open source geospatial than FOSS4G.

I’ll be there all week, teaching a workshop on PostGIS (sorry, sold out) and giving talks on introductory PostGIS and advanced PostGIS trickery.

See you all in Denver!