The Web DAWGs have their day

These days everybody's got to have one - the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Division of Child and Family Services, the Lovelock/Pershing County Chamber of Commerce - and they all take serious work to maintain.

Web developers from all levels of Nevada government and their associated agencies came together for a seminar at the Nevada State Library and Archives on Friday to share resources, tips, tricks and to enhance communication and networking amongst themselves.

For many, "Where Collaboration Meets Commitment" was the first time they could put a face to people who they had previously known only by the structure of their Web sites.

The day-long seminar was essentially a critical-mass moment, one that had been building since the formation of the "Developers and Webmasters in Government" (DAWG) group began as a loose collaboration of Nevada Web developers helping each other deal with the inherent pains of new technology and the kaleidoscopic expanses of public information needing accessibility.

While serving well as a virtual meeting ground for the past 10 years, DAWG moderators hoped the personal interactions of a face-to-face seminar would make for a more dynamic and engaging organization.

Andy Harvey, one of the event organizers and presenters, said that government Web developers in Nevada often deal with a lack of funding for new technology and a face a limited availability of local training, especially in some of the more incarcerating and remote towns and cities in the state.

"Essentially we're pooling all of our resources, coming together and solving our own problems," he said.

The proactive move is great news for people like Joanne Forsythe, a librarian at Great Basin College in Elko.

"It's a terrific idea," she said. "I'd really like to see it become an annual event."

"We were hoping to get maybe 30 people to attend," said Harvey. "We got nearly 100. That tells me there's a definite need out there for people who want to connect."

It's also great news for taxpayers - the event was funded by DAWG members along with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Seminars included "Databases on the Web," "Blogs and RSS," "Free and Cheap Tools for the Frugal Webmaster" and "Exploring"

The day concluded with a roundtable discussion about what direction to take DAWG.

Cheryl Mathwig, webmaster for the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs and event organizer, said the challenges facing government Web developers are increasingly complex.

"We need to keep our sites up-to-date and active," she said. "The public expects everything to be available on the Web quickly and conveniently. It helps everyone when we can come together like this and mentor each other."

n Contact reporter Peter Thompson at or 881-1215.


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