Tagged: conference

Notes on World Domination Summit 2013

Gary Hirsch leads a group improv.
Gary Hirsch leads a group improv.

This weekend I attended the third iteration of World Domination Summit (WDS), right here in Portland. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the conference. I bought the tickets several months ago, remembering that I had been interested in attending the previous year when the event was already sold out.

Aside from phrases like “remarkable life, conventional world” and “amazing people with big plans,”  the website reveals very little concrete details about the content of conference. A click-through to the schedule reveals that the plan is to “have fun and create meaningful adventure.”

WDS 2013 began with non-talk activities on Friday, which included the Big Float (an attempt to break the world’s record for number of people floating at one time) and an opening party at the Portland Zoo. Saturday and Sunday comprised the main part of the conference and roughly followed the same schedule. First, there was a morning of talks by the headlining speakers that wrapped up in time for lunch. In the afternoon, alumni speakers and attendees held a small number of workshops at venues throughout downtown. Both days concluded with two final talks at the main venue and then a social activity. Saturday’s social activity was a cruise on the Willamette and Sunday’s was a party at Pioneer square.

For me, WDS isn’t an ideal conference format. Because unscheduled time at home on weekends is so rare for me, weekend conferences are difficult to begin with. I have to fight a tremendous amount of inertia just to set aside the things I want to get done at home and leave the house. The lack of a central “hallway” track was also an issue for me. I find large crowds overwhelming and having a place where I can park myself and observe the action while still being available for chance encounters is important. WDS did have a “self care” area, but it was decentralized like everything else but the main talks.

I also didn’t take advantage of the social activities. In part this is because I live in Portland and can go to the Zoo or take a river cruise at any time. It’s also because there was no way to include Sherri in the activities and so choosing to go would have cut into the very small amount of non-working time we have to spend with each other each week.

All of that said, I attended the morning talks each day and found those to be enjoyable and inspiring. The highlight for me was hearing Tess Vigeland, formerly of Markplace.

There’s no doubt that WDS is full of inspiration and feel-good moments. Even this curmudgeon got out of her chair on the last day and joined the group dancing (really, I did!). What I thought it lacked, was more content about how to live remarkably or execute big plans. Perhaps if I had attended the afternoon workshops I would not have been craving specific details as much.

One thing WDS really needs to pay attention to and improve upon in future iterations: accessibility. The main venue was crowded and hard to navigate, with no effort made to encourage attendees to keep travel lanes clear. Seating for those with limited mobility seemed limited to underneath the balcony, which had the effect of drastically limiting the view of the stage. I know because I sat near this area on the first morning and could see scarcely 50% of the screen.

Will I go again? Probably. I think Sherri would enjoy attending and I think going with her would make me participate at a greater level. I would also like to present my own workshop next year, either on non-profit management or community organizing, or both.

Open Source Day at Grace Hopper: Core Team Members Wanted

The Open Source Day event (2012 overview) is part of the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference (GHC). This year I am co-chairing the Open Source Day (OSD) with Alice Bonhomme-Biais, who has been involved with OSD at GHC championing the Google Crisis Response project

The purpose of the Open Source Day is twofold:

  1. To give Grace Hopper attendees the opportunity to learn what open source is, how to contribute to open source projects and to make their first contribution!
  2. To help open source projects become more friendly to new and novice contributors.

We accomplish this by inviting a dozen or so open source projects (usually with a humanitarian focus) to join the Open Source Day and connect with contributors (GHC attendees, mostly college students). In the months prior to OSD, we work with participating organizations to prepare their projects for new contributors and during the event we facilitate this on-boarding process.

Soon, we’ll be asking organizations to apply to be a part of the Open Source Day.

Right now we need to assemble our core team. If you’re interested helping to make OSD a success this year, please do the following no later than Friday, 29 March:

  1. Read through the list of core team roles.
  2. Take note of the time commitment and general responsibilities and make sure you’re comfortable with them.
  3. Contact me to let me know that you’d like to be on the committee. If a particular role interests you, let me know that too. DEADLINE: Friday, 29 March (but the sooner the better).

Once we’ve heard from everyone, we’ll meet as a group to solidify the roles and select a weekly meeting time.

For those of you who participated last year, you might  recall that organization leaders were a part of the core planning team.  We have decided to change that this year to let org leaders focus on  getting their project ready for the event. Instead, each org leader will be assigned an org coordinator (part of the core team) as a point of  contact with the core team. We’ve made this change in order to make our  weekly planning meetings run more efficiently and to create a meeting  space where org leaders can discuss the issues most relevant to them.

At OSCON All Next Week

I’ll be at OSCON all next week. I’m very much looking forward to giving our workshop, Event Planning for Geeks. And, it’s on the first day of the conference, which means once we’re done, I get to relax and just enjoy the rest of the conference. Oh, what a nice break it will be to simply attend an event, rather than be one of the organizers.

If you’re planning to attend, and would like to connect, please do get in touch. You can find my info in the attendee directory.

Also, be sure to stop by the non-profit pavilion of the Expo Hall, where the Stumptown Syndicate will have a booth.

The Expo hall is open during the following times:

  • Tuesday, 7/17: 5:00pm – 6:00pm (Opening Reception)
  • Wednesday, 7/18: 10:00am 4:30pm, 5:40pm – 7:00pm (Booth Crawl)
  • Thursday, 7/19: 10:00am – 5:00pm

If you don’t already have a ticket for OSCON, use the code OS12FOS for a 20% discount, or register for a free Expo hall pass.

And, we’re still looking for a few volunteers to help staff our booth. If you’re interested in helping for an hour or two, let me know.

Oh, and will also attend at least part of this weekend’s Community Leadership Summit.