My Association Wish List

18 Oct
As a software developer, my goal is to create something that people will find useful. Normally, I think of this as solving some problem that people experience or helping them do something more efficiently/effectively. Of course, to do this, you have to have some notion of what motivates your potential customers. It is useful, as the old adage goes, to walk a mile in their shoes.

At AssociCom we produce software for associations. In particular, we want to help associations build online communities for their members. Now, since I belong to two professional associations, volunteer extensively for one of them, and have been involved with a few others, I am in some sense, my own customer. This is both a blessing and a curse. It means I’m passionate about what I do, and I hold some deeply cherished notions of what an association should do, and the role that software could play in that. Of course, the latter is simultaneously a curse, since it can make it harder to recognize the needs of others when they are different.

With that in mind, I wanted to write about what I want from an association. I’m hoping that others will join in and share their expectations as well, and that we’ll develop a more encompassing sense of how associations can serve their members.

Pretty much everything I would hope for from an association has to do with helping me do my job better. Software development is a broad field, with many different areas of specialization. Like anything rooted in technology it seems to be changing at an incredible pace. I can envision a number of ways that an association could help:

  • Providing a question/answer forum that would help resolve very specific and concrete problems I will run into on a day to day basis. Interestingly, stackoverflow.com does a pretty good job of this and is not run by an association. One might also look at quaora.com.
  • Providing training to allow me to quickly come up to speed on new technologies. The ACM (www.acm.org) provides a fairly broad set of online courses for software developers.
  • Providing high level guidance about choices that I might face in doing my job. For example, if I am developing a new web-based application, I might want to know the advantages and disadvantages of certain languages or software development frameworks. I still haven’t found a really good resource for this type of material.
  • Providing me the opportunity to meet with other professionals in my local area. The IEEE has done a pretty good job of this in the past, but it seems like meet-ups are the most common vehicle for this sort of in person gathering, and generally speaking they don’t appear to be organized by associations.

So, that’s what makes me tick. Your turn now!

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