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Event making in hackerspace

Sharing my wisdom about organizing small geeky events in initLab

2013-04-25, 01:54:16-2013-04-25, 05:24:54

Start with idea #

I'm passionate about game design, games, practical learning and the events I'm a part of are focused on that

Mostly I create events I want to attend but they're not created. That's why most of the time the ideas for events are developing quite frantic in my mind. But once I was questioning myself - what kind of event I can initiate in the hackerspace? I started to brainstorm and came up with the Design Jam as a format - it's like hackathon but for designers. I had the idea of something called "Game jams" but soon I released that there's already a brand for design jams. With this it was a no brainer

It took me some time o figure out the main challenge that we will tackle. I wanted it to be something that will matter and can have some impact (nonetheless we may not deliver as designers the expected results). The idea was important :)

So with this in mind every new event I initiate must have somewhat good idea. I figured out that a good practice is to brainstrorm what will be interesting for people, what is interesting for me (because I can learn a lot) or what I'm experienced about (so that I may share my knowledge).

It's all about marketing #

Tell your friends and the initLab community

Yeah, it's cool to meet new people with new ideas. That's why I'm always inviting the whole initLab community through the facebook group or the google group - I think the conversion rate from invited to going is somewhat little (~2%) but I think it all depends on my efforts to gather more people. I think I can hit ~10% if I invest enough time. For example the Design Jams in initLab were almost formed with complete strangers to the initLab community because I tweeted with private messages to them.

So my point taken is that most of the people want personal attention and if I have an idea who to invite I should invite him with personal message (not just by using the invite button in facebook). This is somewhat tricky because you may only invite people who you know - but with social networks nowadays is pretty easy to message someone that you think will like the event.

For the Design Jams I followed every bulgarian I can find in dribbble and mentioned him in twitter. So for every event I first think of the target (the people who will value it more) and then find people from that target via social networks or other platforms. People are grateful you invited them in person even if they cannot come :)

I think that using a third party tool like eventyard can spread a lot more the event but I haven't tried it. Will share my wisdom in here when I do :)

I've used eventbrite for collecting emails and it was a cool idea because right now I have emails for the Design Jam and if I want to initiate another event I can mail the past attendees too.

The event! #

I follow strictly the "don't panic" rule

So everytime the person who initiated the event is the one that will be in charge of it - so I always try to stay possitve and smile a lot. People are more friendly to smilling dudes :D ... even if everything isn't going as planned. Improvisation is the key to success and I see that whatever happens if I confront everything possitively the attendees will remain happy. 

My point is that whatever happens the leader should be bursting with excitement or at least possitivism. I try to remember that we're gathering for a fun event not some funeral.

Another cool thing I tried was to communicate with initLab members about setuping a live broadcast of the event for everyone interested. So with the design jam it was possible to make it in two physical spaces - initLab and varnaLab at the same time :) For this kind of infrastructure asking in the google group will suffice.

Follow ups #

if you have pictures - share them. If you have any other resources - share them too.

The event may be a pancake workshop or python crashcourse or some other design jam - whatever it is I found it rather cool to share a follow up. It creates incentive for others to join next time or the participants to feel part of something more meaningful. I usually forget about taking picture (I should have this as a habit) but on every event I try to collect some links or resources that are interesting to share.

This is probably the byproduct of the event and is always great to share and distribute it. I try to collect them during the event so it's a lot more easier to share them later. But sometimes the event is rather crazy and energetic so it's more difficult to collect the "follow ups". That's why for the Design Jams I've setup a folder in Google Drive and gave the editing link to the participants so they may upload their content in order to share it after the event has ended :)

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