Ellen Dudley left her biomedical engineering job in 2009 to design and organize events that would spark connections between people. Now, as co-founder of CrowdScanner, she experiments with technology to stimulate discussions between people in gatherings. She has a lot to say about harnessing the power of mobile devices at events and will share her insights at an Event Camp Europe session entitled “Hands On Mobile Gaming.”
I recently asked Ellen a few questions about her session and about using mobile devices for gaming at events.
JENISE: How are mobile devices and games being used at events to drive connections between attendees?
ELLEN: They should be used to address the challenges that attendees and sponsors face in connecting and communicating with the right people. Mobile games are at a really early stage, but we’ve seen from building PeopleHunt that it is possible to use them to spark amazing connections between attendees.
JENISE: Are event professional aware of this? It seems that we are just now learning that smartphones can add to a conference experience rather than being a distraction to attendees.
ELLEN: I think a lot of event professionals are accustomed to the old model of paying a lot for custom built hardware such as programmable badges, polling devices, NFC tags etc, which makes technical solutions unaffordable to most. Soon these solutions will be completely replaced by the software and hardware on smartphones, which makes solutions more accessible, more affordable, and more environmentally friendly.
JENISE: During your ECTC session I noticed that two of my online friends, one from Switzerland and one from Oklahoma, USA met and began to collaborate on a game. Is that a common occurrence? What are the circumstances that allow such connections to take place?
ELLEN: That was pretty cool! I’m still waiting for the blog post on that one to see what happened but we’re really excited about creating different types of interactions. The first version of our mobile game, PeopleHunt, was using BUMP where players had to physically bump their phone to find out if their guess was correct. We had challenges relying on their platform, so we decided to rebuild it. We wanted the interaction to remain synchronous, so that there is a real time conversation happening, but we decided that it didn’t have to be in the same physical place to qualify as a conversation. We are going to experiment more with this using Skype between us and the Pods at EventCampEU which should be really fun!
JENISE: What do you hope people will take away from your session?
ELLEN: I hope people will have fun, meet new people, and have cool conversations, as well as see the power of what’s possible with mobile games, and feel comfortable using them in their own events.
As founder and CEO of Beyounic, Nick Balestra understands the value that the sharing of information can bring to the events industry. He started creating a social network for the University of Lugano in 2004 around student parties and ended up building Beyounic as a start-up company.
Beyounic created Ohanah, an app that allows people to to easily create, publish, promote & follow events.
A big fan of freedom and collaboration over competition, Nick is an open source software advocate and will be sharing ideas for using the “open source” concept at Event Camp Europe Sept. 9.
I recently asked Nick a few questions about his session entitled, “Remix your event – From Freedom to Open Source.”
JENISE: What is open source for events?
NICK: Open-source is a smarter way to build software and collaborate on projects. Creating events can be somehow similar, so taking an open-source approach while thinking about your events can lead to smarter ways to create them. In open-source software, by releasing your code free to be read, modified and redistributed new opportunity emerge. Eventcamp is a perfect example of this, where all the participants, shares and contribute back to the creation of the event itself with the final goal to bring home new tools and approaches to build your next event upon.
JENISE: How can it help event professionals?
NICK: If event professionals start thinking about their events as open-source projects they will realize better all the stakeholders involved and how build an event around their contribution.
Furthermore sharing results, techniques and tools among event professionals in an open way may result in better events. Collaboration is the key over competition in this.
JENISE: Can you elaborate a little more on specific ways that events, such as Event Camp can use the idea of open sourcing? How is it different from the way that events are usually created?
The hive is started by a queen bee. The hive grows over time in terms of the number of bees, the size of the hive, and the amount of honeycomb in the hive. Each bee performs a function within the hive and collectively they all benefit, but (at least theoretically) any bee is free to fly away to another hive, as is the queen.
Open source projects can be described in a similar way:
- The core developers are often the founders of the project. Typically they do much of the development and design and also set the project roadmap. They act like like queen bees.
- The community participates in many roles and tasks involved in designing, implementing, and testing the software. The community benefits from the project and the project benefits from the community. The community members are like bees.
- There is no ‘Go To Market’ process in an open source project. This is why the barriers to the adoption of open source listed above exist. Open source projects create software, they do not create ‘whole product’.
- There is no specific marketing role in this model so open source projects gain mind-share and attract community members through technical articles, blogs, and word-of-mouth.
A few people have a negative reaction to the open source concept because they think it is in some way socialist or communist. This is not the case. Open source is effective because the motivations of all participants are naturally aligned (rather than artificially aligned with financial reward as a ‘pseudo-motivation’).
Event projects like Event Camp are very similar, and for this reason they don’t produce a final event product or tools to go to market. What is therefore needed is the creation of an ecosystem around this.
Coming back to the beehive in the wild we see that business can grow around them.
So projects like Event Camp and other event projects more in general (like barcamp concept more abstractly) need a way to create an ecosystem that can take advantage of it in term of tools created to support them and professional figures that can take from the project, elaborate some of its parts, packaging it, and market it.
For example, the hybrid wine tasting experiment that will be carried out at Event Camp Europe 2011, has been made possible by the contribution of it’s community. Event professionals, or even wine producers can then refine the idea into a final product, or even complete platform or tool to market it and offer it to their customers.
For example wine-bars across the world organizing hybrid wine tasting experiences where customers can taste wine and interact directly with the wine producer on the other side of the world, resulting in more sales, brand awareness and promotion of the wine in places that can be harder to penetrate. But because the system can be, for example, centered on direct wine resellers (like the wine bars for example) this can give instant benefit to them. Those professionals can then choose to bring back and contribute to the community and therefore the original project, their product, innovation, and solution so that the whole ecosystem can learn and leverage from it.
JENISE: What do you hope people will take away from your Event Camp Europe session?
NICK: Being personally and professionally involved in open-source for many years, I try to bring in my experience to give event professionals new angles and perspectives to think about when creating their events. My goal is to try to put everything learned during the day into remixable elements so that people can at least start thinking of how to implement them in their next event project. I hope people will then bring home a new mindset and approach to start remixing their event.
When Ruud Janssen, Lindsey Rosenthal and I first discussed the possibility of organizing an Event Camp in London, we were just three event industry optimists riding on the adrenaline of opportunities and possibilities we had discovered through our individual efforts to network, learn and market our businesses online.
We had JUST met in person at The Special Event in Phoenix Arizona, although we were familiar with each other from online interactions.
Amazingly enough, when we all returned home, a plan started to take shape and after adding British friend Paul Cook to our team, we got down to the nitty gritty of remote collaboration. What is that, you ask? Well it’s what happens when people from different locations (in our case as vastly different as California, Washington D.C., Switzerland and London) work together on a project.
We were determined to make Event Camp Europe a reality. And believe me our path has been rife with obstacles. The first that comes to mind is time differences. To give you an idea, there’s a three hour difference between Lindsey and me, an 8 hour difference between Paul and me, and I can’t even keep track of the difference between California and Switzerland, where Ruud lives.
Then there are the different ways that we all approach our work. Some of us are very big on ideas, others are more practical, some of us wanted black and white guidelines, others wanted to remain flexible. Add to that the different cultural backgrounds and the limits that our methods for communicating imposed and you can see how determined we’ve had to be.
The methods that we’ve used to collaborate have been audio only group Skype calls, Google+ Hangouts that include video and audio, email, Twitter direct messages and a site called Central Desktop which gave us a place to share and store our work.
Next week we will all meet for in person for the first time, just three days before our event is scheduled.
We’re excited to see how Event Camp Europe will materialize after so many months of preparation. We hope you will join us for this fascinating experiment that is sure to provide great insight into how events will come together in the future.