Many events have the habit of distributing crappy & useless gadgets, often provided by the sponsors. It gets even worse when attendees get to fight for them (I’ve seen men in suits which -directly or indirectly- had payed more than 2.000 USD for a ticket fighting over who got a cheap cap with the BMW brand on it).
Such a practice greatly hurts the experience of your conference, it says “I don’t care” or “I was to lazy to make something innovative” and in the end transmits a negative -mediocre- feeling. In a way, the only [physical] things that the event leaves you is a cheap one (apart from the memories in your head). Plus in many cases it’s not green nor ethical: many of those gadgets are hardly recyclable, have a short lifespan and a very low cost because they are being produced in a sweatshop in some poor country.
You might argue “everybody does it so why not me?”. Well -I’d answer- because you care about details and want to innovate on just another bad practice.
I do appreciate when an event gives away a nice or useful product (like the classy Monocle notebook given out at a Monocle magazine meetup). In the past I’ve given out BlackBerries and iPods as a special offer promotional gadget (of the kind “if you buy by a give date you get a BlackBerry – it was a corporate event). Other gadgets I usually like are stickers or T-shirts (with logo, date and country) that act as a stamp that shows that your participation. If it’s about T-shirts, please make them of good quality… and why not from organic cotton or recycled yarn?.
3D printed gadgets
3D printing has been around for many years and now the entrance barrier is becoming much lower and accessible to broader masses. My interest in 3D printing has been pumped up by the near future scenario described in Cory Doctorow’s latest novel, Makers (Amazon link), and a short conversation with Marleen Stikker (co-founder of PICNIC festival, founder and director of the Waag Society which hosts the FabLab dedicated to 3D printing).
Last Friday, June 3rd 2009, the city of Venice officially launched a free wi-fi service that covers most of the city.
The presentation and “beta-testing” of the service was made in a rather unusual way: the vice-mayor of Venice, Michele Vianello, together with blogger Gigi Cogo, organized a barcamp-like event for bloggers and journalists to test the service while riding on a boat around the canals of the city. It was called BateoCamp (“bateo” is the name locals use to call the “batello” or boat that works as water taxi).
The city made available 2 boats with a capacity of about 40 people each. One of them was full with bloggers (professionals, amateurs, students, etc) together with the vice-mayor and other personalities. Most of us had a laptop computers, netbooks, iPhones and other gadgets, and had previously received a user and password to access the service.
The second boat was crammed with rather traditional journalists who received an explanation about the service, the scope of it and during part of the trip also counted with the participation of Venice’s mayor, Massimo Cacciari.
Even though the event was on Monday, the room was full. Communication about this conference traveled mainly through word of mouth, supported by social networking activity on Facebook, Twitter and others.
I think that the main driver of success of Frontiers of Interaction V was the passion and dedication of the organizers and the atmosphere they created for this event. The excitement, sincerity, humility and energy of them all created a strong connection with the attendees, creating an absolute world-class event. It was fundamental that they put together a very rich program of speakers and content (check out the program here).