The entire Hop Studios team, Justin, Rachael, Travis and Susie, were first-time attendees of Gnomedex 9 this past weekend in Seattle. Going in, we weren’t sure what to expect from the conference, which may seem odd but it came highly recommended by friends and colleagues who had attended in the past. Also, who can resist an excuse to visit Seattle and all it has to offer?
Part of Gnomedex’s tagline is “Human Circuitry.” I find this label intriguing, because it describes the idea of the intertwining of people and the technology they use in one catchy line. The conference was less about technology itself and more about how people use it to connect, share ideas, and present themselves to the world. Funnily enough my favorite sessions—Nerd Craft: A Field Guide by Beth Goza and Personal Manufacturing: The Robots that Sharing Built by Bre Pettis—were about craft, which seems as far as you can get from high tech.
A very strong theme throughout the presentations was the use of social media to bring attention to a cause and raise funds for it. Local Vancouverites Jay Grandin and Leah Nelson of Giant ant media presented on their evolution as social media content producers and how this enabled them to start a charity and help street youth in Tanzania. By the end of their presentation (and this was the case for a few others presentations, too), they had raised additional funds for their issue or project. (Read more about their project at Bongo the Film)
In the end, I’m still not sure what the conference was all about, but I think that’s just because it’s not the kind of event with a specific theme. I enjoyed the experience and found inspiration in some of the presentations even though speaker quality and subject matter was all over the map. I really liked that there was only one track to follow, which meant I was only missing out on presentations I chose not to attend rather than because of scheduling conflicts. It was also interesting for me, an inexperienced conference goer, to attend one that was developed on such a large scale. I really only have Northern Voice to compare, so it was impressive to see what organizers can do with a large budget at their disposal.