I received an email from Nicole, a lady who is considering attending Gnomedex this year for the first time. She recently started a business based in New York, and had some questions about the conference. The questions are very good ones, and I decided that others may benefit from the answers, as well.
- What is the overall theme, message or intended take-away of the conference? The theme this year will be the same one I chose last year – Human Circuitry. Interestingly enough, the attendees from last year defined Human Circuitry in many different ways. The common response, though, meshed with what I was trying to accomplish. Human Circuitry, put simply, is the point at which Tech and Humanity combine. We learned how we could raise money quickly for a worthy cause, using nothing more than Twitter. We had a spontaneous – and very moving/powerful – few moments of dancing wildly on stage with Matt, of “Where the Hell is Matt” fame. Another highlight that showed off Human Circuitry at work was hearing Amanda Koster talk about using her camera and the Internet to raise awareness of the plight of people living in Africa.
- Are the sessions focused on action and strategy – or more theoretical? I’d have to say that they are focused on action and strategy. For instance, one speaker this year will be talking about the top ten ways businesses can and should make use of social media outlets, such as Twitter. We have speakers lined up this year who will talk about everything from social media, business online (and offline!), all the way to using the Internet to raise awareness for a cause.
- Is there a high focus on innovation, and what’s “new” and “needed”? I’d like to think so, yes. The people who attend this conference are some of the best at what they do. The conversations that take place between and after sessions are usually the highlight of the conference for many people. You will be amazed at the contacts you can make, and the things you can learn from these conversations. A LOT of time is spent talking about what’s on the cutting edge, what we’re hoping to find / create / DO, and what just plain doesn’t work.
- Is it very jargon-specific with advanced computer terminology and concepts – or understandable to a non-programmer? Gnomedex is not focused on programming. I can promise you that anyone and everyone will be able to understand what is being presented and discussed. Sure, there may be a few people who use big words, but hey! We are a room full of Geeks, after all! We’ve been fortunate in past years (and again this year) to be able to find presenters who are able to talk about their subject in “people terms”, and not “high-tech terms”. We do love developers, though!
- Since your audience ranges across many field and disciplines, do you have industry-specific break-out sessions or opportunities to learn/discuss/network? Officially, no. Unofficially, yes. Gnomedex is a single-track conference, where everyone attends the same sessions. We work very hard to make sure that our speakers will reach out to every sector of people / business who may attend. Again, I bring up the discussions that take place before / after sessions: this is the time and place where people find others with similar goals and interests. Contact information is exchanged. Ideas are shared. We also have our meet-and-greet party Thursday night, before the conference begins, which is yet another opportunity for you to network.
- The conference seems clearly beneficial. Due to costs of travel and accommodations, I’m wondering if it’s “nice” to attend… or a “need” to attend. What would you say others have gained in the past from attending? First and foremost, people across the board each and every year have stated that they came away with renewed passion for what they’re doing. They are energized. They look at things from different perspectives than they might have prior to being there. They remember why it is they started on their journey, and have a renewed faith in themselves and their ideas. They come away having made new friends and associates. I’ve been told more times than I can honestly count that Gnomedex is inspiring in many ways. It’s not something that is easy to put into words… but it’s very tangible.
- Is it very region-specific to the NW/Silicon Valley, or would the networking be on a broad scope, allowing me to benefit easily from my NY base? Ding! Gnomedexers come from literally all over the World! I know for a fact that we have MANY East-coasters joining us this year. Sure, there are several from my local Seattle area. There will also be people coming from Europe, NY, Florida, Chicago, Texas… I think you get the idea. Gnomedex is full of people from all over the World!
For those of you who have attended Gnomedex in the past, I’d love to have your responses to any and all of the above questions. Your insight and experiences are what drives this conference each year, and what convinces others to join you. Help to broaden your own network by taking a few minutes to share with prospective attendees what it is about the conference that keeps you coming back for more!