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BarSpeedCAUSE: A Conference(s) Recap

Whew! October was a busy month. In six weeks (last week of September and through the first week of November) I participated in four conferences; specifically I presented at all four and helped plan two. Yeah. Crazy. And stupid. That being said, I love being busy and I love conference planning and have no problem with public speaking so as far as I’m concerned it was totally worthwhile.

My recap of the conferences and presentations is overdue. I did a brief post on the Social Media Strategies Summit in September, but here are my thoughts on the other three…


BarCampRDU was one of the events I helped plan and I was pleased with how it went. Despite some strong marketing the turnout was disappointing, but the space (which was a last-minute change due to problems with our usual location) worked beautifully and the sponsorships, shirts, and most of the presentations all worked out great.
I pitched two talks for BarCamp: Social Media Strategies and Women In BarCamp. Women in BarCamp is a hot-button issue for me. BarCamp is traditionally very technical and the nature of it (and possibly the way the conference is planned and marketed) doesn’t lend itself to strong female participation. But let’s be honest here: women weren’t really flocking to technology jobs in general anyway. In past years there have been only a handful of women who have attended BarCamp and even fewer actually speak at the event. This year was typical – less that 10% of the attendees were female and I was the only one to pitch a topic. It was frustrating: despite a great session with really wonderful feedback and support from the participants it was daunting that there was less female participation than ever. Even more discouraging was the planning session for next year’s BarCampRDU, which seemed to want to move back to a more limited-scope and in consequence a style that offers even less support for women participants.
On the bright side this did introduce me to some new organizations for females who are interested in technology in the Triangle area. Hopefully I’ll have follow-up on these groups in the future if I can find some time to investigate them further. On the downside I don’t think I’ll be helping out with BarCampRDU again, at least not for a couple years.


My graduate degree is mere weeks away from official completion. This semester I’m president of the NC State student chapter of SIGDOC (Special Interest Group on the Design of Communication) and one of our goals was to put on a conference on communication. We had an offer from the Carolina STC (Society for Technical Communication) chapter to offer a joint conference, which they would help to finance if we would help to host. The offer was too good to pass up so on October 29th we had out first SpeedCon.
Like BarCampRDU, SpeedCon is an unconference, This means it’s very free-flowing with topics “pitched” in the morning and the schedule set based on the  participants and their expertise. Unlike BarCamp, SpeedCon is not well-known and the concept of an unconference was new to most of the participants. Despite the hurdle of having to find volunteers to talk and the need to educate the participants on the nature of the conference, things went very well. Participation was excellent and there were some really fantastic topics. I think everyone learned something and there was a lot of opportunity for networking between students, faculty, and professionals. I’m excited about the success and I’m hoping SpeedCon becomes an annual event!


Every year those of us working in IT at the various 17 UNC System campuses make our way to some “big” North Carolina city (Wilmington, Winston-Salem, Boone) and spend three days sharing problems, discussing strategies and fighting for drink tickets at our annual conference. As it happens, last year UNC CAUSE was put on by NC State, and I and my colleagues put an exhausting amount of time and energy into making it a professional event. That memory, while faded, is far from gone so I was very happy to simply have to present this year.
I presented with my colleague Dr. (Leslie) Dare and our presentation, included below, was on social media strategy and policy for campuses. I feel like the presentation went well despite a really unfortunately horrendous hangover (Yes, I mixed beer and liquor. Yes, I should know better by now). I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to have more discussion on the topic as we sort of ran out of time. I was also disappointed that my boss’s boss’s boss who attended the presentation focused on some of the more short-sighted elements of the personal responsibility (I’m already a fan, thanks) and failed to charge us with taking more of a leadership role in our campus social media strategy.

So that’s it for me. November is positively boring after the chaos of October so one might even look forward to more posts on here! No promises, of course.