2012 MPSA Conference in Chicago Day 2 Notes – Paper Day

The Palmer House Hilton was relatively easy to find. The building has a Starbucks located on the street level. People were already lined up to get coffee by the time I got to the conference. Registration for the Midwest Political Science Association conference was painless. My ASUS Eee PC is literally smaller than the 70th annual MPSA conference book. I’ll attached photographic evidence of that reality at the end of this post or on Flickr. I have to confess Open Office writer just did not meet my document processing needs. I downloaded a trial version of Microsoft Office Professional 2010 to get a copy of Microsoft Word on this netbook. The Eee PC does not have an optical drive. That reality stopped me from being able to load my own copy of office, but I digress… I got a piece of banana bread and a tall dark roast coffee with a shot of espresso (e.g. a Redeye) from Starbucks.

My PowerPoint presentation for the conference is titled, “Feedback Driven E-Government: A Study of Local Government E-Feedback Methodology.” The subtitle should read, “A few slides with graphs supplemented by a lot of talking…” When I get back to Colorado Springs I will provide a link to the PowerPoint presentation [here]. At some point, I’m going to pair some data from the NPL Research Group with my dissertation survey to start building a longitudinal dataset related to E-Feedback.

It’s nice to be able to walk around town in a suit without being judged. Pretty much everybody at the conference is wearing a suit and tie. A few people (mostly students) are trying to pull off a blazer look. I’m not a fan of blazers…

The Palmer House has HP mini computers and LCD projectors available to the presenters. At some point within the next couple of weeks I will probably start bidding on HP mini computers.

Nels Lindahl MPSA 2012 Conference Paper
Nels Lindahl MPSA 2012 Conference Paper

Action item: Review a few samples and submit a National Science Foundation grant application at some point before the close of 2012.

The conference panel chair had the entire pool of participants move to the audience area. In hindsight, the chair made the right call. Everybody enjoyed the presentations and discussions from the audience. Welch did a good job keeping all of the academic presentations on schedule.

Would a paper titled, “Increasing disaster management coordination and collaboration by using E-Project Management based on E-Government models,” be publishable?

Action item: Pull the MPSA conference book into a database and compare the elements to major journal publications… what is the degree of correlation?

2012 MPSA Conference in Chicago Day 1 Notes – Hello Chicago!

The ASUS Eee PC netbook that I won through an online auction arrived in time for my trip to Chicago. The only damage to the unit appears to be near the keyboard. It looks like somebody wanted to service the hard drive or RAM and tried to pry open the unit. With a little bit of maintenance I will probably be able to restore the unit to the pinnacle of its original esthetic glory.

The installation of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview operating system took about thirty minutes. I’m giving open office a try instead of Microsoft Word. My Sprint Hotspot is working well in 3G mode at the airport in Colorado Springs. The only problem I have run into so far with the Eee PC has been the sensitivity of the mouse. The smaller keyboard makes it very easy to rest part of my palm on the mouse pad. I’m starting to adjust to this inconvenience, but I think it might take a couple of days. Windows 8 is estimating that my batter life should be about 7 hours. I should be able to take plenty of notes during the conference.

I have been getting a ton of recommendations for places to visit in Chicago. Here is what I have so far:

Based on a recommendation that I received at work, I plan on checking out a restaurant in Chicago called Gino’s East. Allegedly, Gino’s makes a world renowned spinach deep dish pizza. If the pizza passes the test, then I might just send a pie back to Colorado Springs.

  • Andy and I are going to visit Wrigley Field for a Cubs game.

  • Pretty much everybody recommends waking up early on a Saturday morning and hitting up Hot Doug’s before the line gets ridiculously long.

  • I’m probably going to check out Carson’s Famous Barbeque Ribs.

ASPA 2012 Conference Las Vegas Day 5 at the Flamingo Casino

ASPA Conference Day 5 Review: Final Thoughts

I finally broke down and brought my laptop down from my room to the sessions this morning. My Dell Studio 1535 is nearing the end of its run. To keep the laptop running, I upgraded to a 40 GB SSD and installed a developer edition of Windows 8. I have been looking at ultrabook options for several months now. Over the last few days, I have been seriously considering purchasing the HP Folio 13. The physical setup of ultrabooks is about to fundamentally change. Current laptop design involves a clamshell setup without a touchscreen. The new models are about to have a clamshell design with a touchscreen. The benefit being that the device could be used as a laptop or if the clamshell is totally reversed the device could be used as a touchscreen tablet. Having a device that could be either a table or a laptop is very enticing.

The memos to the president series wrapped up today with a super session titled, “Memo’s to the President: The public administration community speaks to the nation’s leaders – a wrap-up.” This morning I learned that the “Memo’s to the President” Super Session will be changing over to a “Memo’s to Leaders” title. Apparently, a well-placed separation of powers argument was enough to get the name of the series changed. I really enjoyed the panel discussion for one main reason. The series encouraged scholars to take the cumulative knowledge assembled within the academy of public administration and translate that knowledge to applied theory or at least best practices. The field of public administration has three general pillars including economy, efficiency, and social equality. The field lacks a general philosophy that can be used to facilitate high-quality informed decision making.

I’m probably going to have to go back and review all of my previous conference posts and embed some links to program related content. Working quickly is not an acceptable excuse for a thinker to ignore the responsibility to provide backward linkages. The internet provides people with online access a public commons to share information and engage in discussions. Ultimately, the advent of the internet sped up the velocity of information. The free and open exchange of information has been the foundation of an informed civil society for generations. I’m curious about how or why the discussions of engagement, reorganization, and informed decision making through better metric collection will change the field of public administration. Being presented with limited information can challenge decision makers. Some of them will request additional information, but a large portion of them simply change up the hill.

After several years of hard work, I was finally able to fully conceptualize how to implement my research strategy. I was able to develop a framework to move forward as a researcher. I have been working for the last several months on finalizing a paper titled, “Analyzing social media engagement within e-government implementations using automated data mining techniques: A study of local government social media engagement.” While writing the further research section of the paper I realized that my actual research intentions had been different than the product I ended up producing. At some point, during the process I figuratively jumped out of my chair and yelled, “Eureka!” Over the last two year, I have been collecting social network theory linkage tables. It turns out that while I thought I was working on content modeling the entire time I had been building datasets that could be used in a variety of ways. I have started work on a new paper entitled, “Mapping online conservations: A method for applied social network analysis of websites using automated data mining techniques.”

Building datasets related to the field of public administration is a challenge for researchers. The ability to build is a good skill for quantitative researchers to acquire. Intellectually, I put a premium on creating longitudinal datasets that facilitate high quality empirical research.

Governments are facing a“…growing presence of multi-sector workforces” (Posner, 2012).

Situational Politics… government has grown large enough that instead of taking about the system we have broken down the system into a series of issue related subjects or specializations. Reality is complex. In some ways reality is so complex that we as citizens do not have the capacity to meaningfully discuss the totality of government. Perhaps the confines of language based discourse create the limit. Alternatively, it could be the sheer volume of information makes transparency unrealistic based on our capacity to consume and understand new streams of information. Maybe we have hit our limit when it comes to information consumption. Perhaps in terms of how we process information we have started moving from expansion to reduction.

ASPA 2012 Conference Las Vegas Day 3 at the Flamingo Casino

ASPA Conference Day 3 Review: Sunday Slowdown

I’m still not exactly sure if it is possible to truly define how scholars working within the field of public administration can “leverage technology to build people capacity.” During one of the presentations I started to think about the nature of fiat debt. Could the government get away with writing off a significant portion of the Federal Reserve owned promissory notes? I watched a presentation on social media from JD Lasica of http://socialmedia.biz/aspa.

Would public Facebook timelines change the nature of our public commons? Do organizations really have social media campaign strategies? Emergent strategies could potentially be self-sustaining or use pure brute force to initiate some degree of change.

ASPA 2012 Conference Las Vegas Day 2 at the Flamingo Casino

ASPA Conference Day 2 Review: Thinking about the process

The traditional conference chair arrangement for the audience does not really support people who are using laptops. Unfortunately, dude to personal preference I do not use my Dell Studio 1535 without a flat surface to rest the device. Therefore, during the conference I have decided to go old school and take notes using pen and paper. In this case, I have elected to test out a Sharpie brand pen. The pen works very well. I’m still a fan of 1 mm ink flow bold pens, but I will probably get over it at some point. Taking notes using pen and paper requires two steps to get end up with a digital product. I am definitely on the lookout for a good deal on an ultrabook. The following are my notes. My notes typically include all kinds of caveats and asides that are intended for further review.

Here are my notes from the opening keynote presentation from the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) 2012 Las Vegas conference staring Justin Johnson who was standing in for John Berry Director of the Office of Personal Management who was under the weather. Some people have a type of that personality and can fill a room with warmth energy and some people have a disposition that clears rooms. For those of you who have never met John Berry, for the purposes of this story you should know that John is an engaging speaker that can easily win over a room. I’m glad that Justin was able to speak at the ASPA conference, but the speech lacked a certain degree of empowering rhetoric. Apparently, about 1200 people attended the conference this year.

The conference is live on Twitter, Four Square, and Facebook. Academics have typically ignored fleeting communication tolls in favor of making contributions to the academy. History remains grander than the moment. Academic journals, manuscripts, and books provide a near permanent record of academics thoughts that make a contribution to our written records. I will concede that social networking can help bring people together by increasing the speed of communication, but the academic world does not generally require speed.

First time conference attendees should attend business meetings and try to get a feel for how ASPA works. Tonight the welcome reception will be held on the UNLV campus. ASPA rented buses to take conference participants from the Flamingo to the UNLV campus.  Apparently, visitors to Las Vegas make an average contribution of $120 per day to the economy. I instantly wondered if that number includes hotel costs and food or if the number only includes gambling losses.

ASPA 2012 Conference Las Vegas Day 1 at the Flamingo Casino

ASPA Conference Day 1 Review: Feedback and or notes on logistics

First things first… let’s talk about the food. Allegedly, I purchased a 24 hour pass to the Buffet of Buffets in Las Vegas. Including the Paradise Garden Buffet at the Flamingo a total of 4 of unlimited pass buffets are within (what I would consider) walking distance of the Flamingo Casino. Yes, I have a plan to visit as many of them as possible. At some point tomorrow, I plan on walking across the street to the Emperor’s Buffet at the Imperial Palace. Convenience alone cannot drive me to eat at the same restaurant buffet for more than three consecutive meals. Assuming the weather is nice on Monday, I plan on walking from the Flamingo to the Spice Market Buffet at the Planet Hollywood or Harrah’s buffet, “flavors.”

I do have one major complaint so far. The check-in process (including the airport shuttle) at the Flamingo Casino was brutally painful. Everybody in the VIP total rewards check-in line seemed very happy. They had short lines and a VIP check-in area. Regular visitors (aka conference guests that are not casino regulars) are intentionally forced into cattle call style lines. Additionally, the Flamingo Casino does not provide any shuttle services to or from the airport. Without any shuttle service, I was forced to catch a cab for about $20 bucks from McCarran International Airport to the hotel. The cab driver did not attempt to engage me in any conversation during the ride. Oddly enough the cab driver would not even make eye contact with me. After arriving at the Flamingo the first 35 minutes of my trip were spent standing in a cattle call line waiting for a customer service agent. In terms of first impressions, I was not very impressed. The check-in process was very transactional in nature. The process lacked any attempt to develop a relationship. The transactional nature of the process became very clear. Overall, the staff was friendly and they certainly have no shortage of employees working throughout the property. I’m guessing that the workforce manager is trying to minimize the number of customer service staff.

I’ll review the Flamingo in more detail at the end of the week. The conference floors seem to be nice and I did not have any trouble finding any of the meetings. I’m pretty excited about the keynote address tomorrow. The 2012 American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) conference is off to a great start. Joni is already looking forward to the 2013 ASPA conference that will be held at a hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. The first thing I did after checking into my room was place a small wager related to who will cut down the nets at the conclusion of this year’s round of March madness. I’ll try to take good notes tomorrow during the conference sessions to provide an accurate recap.