Observe, Analyze, Design

DemoCampToronto15
Photo by Majid

DemoCampToronto15 was last night. I can’t say “it went off without a hitch”. There were some technical challenges, content challenges and venue challenges. The Department of Computer Science was a fantastic host, finding us space in The Great Hall at Hart House, providing the projectors, the open wifi node, and arranging catering. Sara Franca and Greg Wilson are really helping to push the UofT CS Department into reality. More on that later.

I think it’s time to gather some feedback
about DemoCamp. The Wufoo form gets submitted to Jay, Greg, Leila, Joey and I. We’ll be using the feedback to in our discussions about changes and future direction. After gathering feedback, the group will have some discussions and form a plan for changes. We’ll then bring the changes back to the community as a proposal for change. I think there is a need for an event like DemoCamp, and we need to continue to be flexible and practical about it’s value to the community and the amount of effort to plan.

Here are my thoughts on the challenges from DemoCampToronto15

Space Challenges

Space is always a challenge. We had 300 registered attendees, however, we only had about 200 show up for the event. Unfortunately, we can’t have a 33% fall off rate from registration to attendance. As DemoCamp has grown planning has become incredibly challenging. We are going to have to explore alternative methods for registration to help with planning and attendance. I’ve always ruled out charging for DemoCamp events, not because I don’t think the events have value but because it maintains the casual, drop-in nature of the event. Maybe we shouldn’t rule out a minimum donation, i.e., $1/event or give what you can.

The Great Hall is beautiful. It has the feel of the hallowed halls of higher education. However, this does not make for an outstanding emerging technology forum. We need to look at moving back to a location like MaRS or BoT that is able to accommodate all of the needs: social, technical and space. The separate social space was great. But the hall, the chairs, the screens, the projectors all made for a less than optimal experience.

Technical Challenges

Everytime we switched laptops for demos something went wrong. We were spoiled at DemoCampToronto14 with the professional IT and event support from the Board of Trade. The Ignite Presentations went without a hitch, technically. There are a few basic technical requirements we need with each venue:

  • 2 projectors and 2 screens
  • wireless microphones or podium microphone
  • open wifi

All of these were present last night, but it felt like we just met the requirements. There have been a number of requests to record the presentations for distribution on the web. We’ll want to make sure that there is access for students and other parties looking to create recordings.

Content Challenges

Demos cause me a lot of grief. It’s amazing how 5 minutes is both way too short and way too long. All presenters should read:

Watch some of the presentations at Demo. I’m not sure why demos are so hard, but the idea is to remember that your job as a presenter is to inspire, engage, educate, entertain or otherwise amuse the audience. It’s not about you. Spend some time learning about who is going to be in the audience. Figure out what you want the audience to take away from your demo.

I love the Ignite sessions. I love the format. I love the focus. I love the passion. The sessions are fun to watch, at least they didn’t feel as painful as the demos.

Next Steps

Provide feedback and suggestions about DemoCamp

Jay, Leila, Greg, Joey and I are going to brainstorm about improving DemoCamp. Make sure you submit you suggestions and feedback. We’ll be forming a plan that we’ll bring back to the community for how to improve DemoCamp and how to keep it sustainable for the TorCamp community.

2 thoughts on “Observe, Analyze, Design”

  1. <p>Democamp 15 marked my second attendance to this series, and though there may have been some minor glitches, I am nonetheless vesy impressed by the enthusiasm and sense of community elicited by this event. I myself am an Industrial Designer, and though I find much of the tech speak beyond my area of knowledge, I am very impressed by those presenters who take care to introduce and frame their concepts. As a creative person, I understand that the 'creation' aspect of my work is only of value to my clients if accompanied by proper 'communication'. Though I may be intimately involved in a project, it is important to note that my audience may not be so familiar. Quick, concise 1-sentence introductions to describe 'what and why' would be most useful to the audience before jumping into the more technical aspects and details of a project.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Michelle Thompson <br />Industrial Designer </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Cooler Solutions inc. <br /><a href="http://www.coolersolutionsinc.com</p&gt; " target="_blank"><a href="http://www.coolersolutionsinc.com</p>&quot; target="_blank">www.coolersolutionsinc.com</p></a> </a>

  2. Democamp 15 marked my second attendance to this series, and though there may have been some minor glitches, I am nonetheless vesy impressed by the enthusiasm and sense of community elicited by this event. I myself am an Industrial Designer, and though I find much of the tech speak beyond my area of knowledge, I am very impressed by those presenters who take care to introduce and frame their concepts. As a creative person, I understand that the 'creation' aspect of my work is only of value to my clients if accompanied by proper 'communication'. Though I may be intimately involved in a project, it is important to note that my audience may not be so familiar. Quick, concise 1-sentence introductions to describe 'what and why' would be most useful to the audience before jumping into the more technical aspects and details of a project.

    Michelle Thompson
    Industrial Designer

    Cooler Solutions inc.
    http://www.coolersolutionsinc.com

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