Organizing a local event: the DD-Day first experience
Last Friday (March 25th, 2011) a group of around sixty web designers, developers and marketers met in Florence for a full day meeting, discussing the theme Content & Marketing.
I came with the idea of a volunteer based periodical opportunity for web creators of the Florence area after enjoying the UX Barcamp in November.
After presenting the idea to a group of friends, a small team of people formed that worked in great coordination to make the event real, mainly Caterina Chimenti, Laura Mirri and Daniele Nuzzo. Laura created the design and site, which was put online by Caterina and translated in English by Mark Boas. Daniele helped in several logistic services.
The first main problem was to find a free location. It is sad to notice that several local Florentine public institutions denied support to the initiative assuming our “commercial interest”, which simply testifies to the incompetence of (some) local functionaries.
But fortunately there are people for whom the brain is not just a mean for refrigerating blood (pace Aristotle), and the unstoppable Gianpaolo D’amico came to the rescue, hosting us inside the Master in Multimedia program.
For handling registrations we used EventBrite, which is just great, and was managed by Caterina.
So we were ready…
Rolling the event
The 60 places available were gone 24 hours after we did the first tweet announcing the event. This shows how “hungry” are the people working in the field of the Florentine area for events of this kind. We then had 50 people on the waiting list, and we did the mistake of not doing any overbooking as some people simply didn’t show up – that’s for next time.
So people gathered, and the four speakers started talking.
The real aim of this event was from the start not so much having the speakers talk, as offering an opportunity for networking. So instead of leaving discussions to five minutes immediately after the talk, we invented a different way to organize the day, giving the entire afternoon for discussing the topics presented in the morning.
This worked just great, as the discussion lead by my colleague Silvia Chelazzi in the afternoon was intense and dense of ideas and observations.
I actually got several positive feedback after the event about the structure leaving the full afternoon for discussion.
After the event
Overall organizing the first DD-Day it was a lot of work. So one may say: Why “waste” so much time and effort for organizing a free event? Why do it?
What did I get from this conference?
A lot, already, and not only in the hypothetical Godin’s assumption “if you give to a community, you will receive back”. Some concrete examples:
– feedback on my presentation (“The percolating ziggurat”), which will become a (long) blog post and also the base of my forthcoming workshop at Better Software 2011
– possibility of a co-game development on iOS for our coming Adslife browser-based game with a partner company
– possibility of using some affiliate networks for promoting our coming browser games, and contact with an expert in the field
– learnt a lot about brand support through Twitter
– learnt a lot about how to make a conference organization more structured
– discovered the existence of a research lab in the University of Florence dedicated to alternate reality experimentation
– in general, had the opportunity of meeting again with friends and colleagues and made many more…
Thank you to the great people that helped making this happen, and see you at next DD-Day!
P.S. The DD-Day web site will be soon updated with slides and links.