As promised this article will look at my thoughts for events (these are only my thoughts and not GDevCons, SSDCs, NIs), also they are not fixed ideas. I'm very much interested in what other people are interested in and stick any ideas in the comments.
I guess the first question worth asking is what is the benefit of attending events?
- The first thing we tend to think of is education and inspiration .... you learn new things and think of ways to apply them.
- Networking .... a lot of things that happen in the community are actually the result of unplanned face-face conversations. You make friends and add people to your gang. Having this group around you gives you strength.
- Fun .... Work can be fun and can happen in fun places and that's a real bonus. Fun is glue for the mind, it gives you memories and strengthens bonds between people.
- Confidence .... Presenting is an incredibly important life skill, events give you opportunities to learn and hone that skill.
For me 2 and 4 are the most important things. Everyone has a different set.
From an events perspective the LabVIEW community has been well served by NI of the last few decades, in this new era we will be organising our own events a bit more... I see this as a great opportunity.
We have already arranged great events for ourselves - I'm proud of the GDevCons, really loved VIWeek and the GLASummit has been a growing success. But what can we do in the future?
My last article mentioned that there was little being offered to introduce LabVIEW to new users, I'm trying to get NI, Distributors and Partners/UGs to fill in this gap.
I'm also interested in what we can do in the academic scene, be nice to connect experience LabVIEW users to students in some fashion. But this is quite a long way from my area of expertise (I don't know academia very well)
I really like the idea of a festival - it would be fun to camp and have families involved too. One such festival is Electromagnetic Field in Hereford. This looks like good fun and will get us graphical programmers out amongst other programmers. They offer workshop villages (everything is a village), might be interesting to make a graphical programming village.
My aim for any event that has presenters is for the presenters expenses to be paid. For me this would be a real egalitarian win, I don't want to see a persons inability to pay to get to a conference to be a barrier to them. This is a very ambitious goal from our starting point.
Which brings me on to finances....
GDevCons are non-profits - which means that any money we make does not go to shareholders or owners, but is spent on putting on more conferences. GDevCon#3 broke even, we had excellent sponsorship and our income was approx £50k, and before tax our out-goings were approx £50k. That is for an event with 145 people attending. I'm actually really happy with that!
The only money we use for GDevCon is that we pay expenses and time to someone (Jenny) to manage us and the organisers get free entrance. We all pay our own way for everything else. This is a long way from where I want to be.
How will we achieve my goal? All I can think of is organic growth. We try to reward our presenters with an interesting place to present and good quality videography and just keep doing a good job
I have also talked briefly about sustainability (of the organisation, not the planet) and this leads on to business cases and sustaining the organisers. Currently GDevCon takes a high amount of volunteer effort. We are lucky we have great people working hard on our behalf, but I suspect this is unstainable in the long run. The Return on Investment (ROI) is also not that high from a business perspective. SSDC has won $zero of work from organising this kind of thing and the cost has been quite high. Obviously there are other/better motivations than pure finance, but it has to be a consideration.
So another ambition is to be able to recompense organiser expenses - I'm not really thinking time at this point, I'm thinking travel expenses and hotels etc. Once again I don't really want costs to be a factor in being able to volunteer.
So, what events do people want to see or be a part of?
I'm done talking about events now....
Next article is probably going to be about applying software design principles to everyday life... (just by mentioning it I have caused a coupling issue!)
Lots of love