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

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.

Reading the February 2012 Project Management Journal cover to cover

During the flight from Denver, Colorado to Orange County, California, I had the time to sit down and ready the February 2012 edition of the Project Management Journal (PMJ). My preferred method of consuming academic prose happens to be reading hard copies of long form journal article. Throughout the year various academic journals show up at my mailbox. I try to keep up by reading them all cover to cover as they arrive. Airline flights provide a nice opportunity to read academic journals cover to cover without interruption. Improving and growing as a scholar requires reading tons of articles in different journals (normally across a variety of disciples) and focusing on dissecting poorly written abstracts, rushed hypothesis, and further research sections. Analyzing scholarly articles requires breaking down the differences between the abstract and the article before carefully considering how the findings within the article supported the further research section of the article. Typically, academic articles do not ring true with a degree of clarity that makes them definitive. Research begets more research for either confirmation (validation through replication) or iteration. Overall, the articles in the PMJ were very readable and the degree of complexity seemed to provide adequate scholarly coverage. In particular, I enjoyed the article by Papadopoulos, Ojiako, Chipulu, and Lee about customer relationship management (CRM) system implementation risk factors. I was hoping that the authors would have introduced a criticality index for CRM systems that would help practitioners score current and future implementations based on potential risks.