-There were many more panels than I’d seen at previous cons. I don’t usually love panels, but I’m very supportive of this system if it means introducing new voices. (Olivia James, one of the first-timers, got spontaneous applause on multiple occasions throughout the Real World Activism panel. Damn.) We talk a lot about this being a young movement, a movement that anyone can join and become a part of. That’s only true so long as we work to find new speakers and leaders–otherwise you have an old guard and where’s the fun in that?
-Safe space hangout zone! I took advantage of this often. After three hours of class and a six hour drive to Minnesota, the conference looked like Introversion: Advanced Mode. The zone (lots of open area with clusters of seats and windows, located behind the tabling space) was perfect. Either by coincidence or design, it was out of the flow of con traffic, meaning no forced interactions, and quiet. Conversations were relaxed and participation wasn’t required–I spent a good deal of time listening to brilliant people arguing.
-And did I mention the panels? I love when panelists disagree–and the organizers tried to make it happen. Panels are exciting when there’s a debate, when sides are chosen and audiences divided. And there were! (Our moderator threatened us with a nerf gun. Never a dull moment.)
-The Wall O’ Tweets! It wouldn’t be a con without live-tweeting, and SkepTech had a simple way of letting audiences see what and who were tweeting. The setup was simple: TweetDeck, one projector, and judicious use of filters to collect relevant tweets. Very occasionally this was distracting–some speakers were sidetracked or interrupted by laughter at tweets they couldn’t see. Other speakers and panels incorporated tweets and tweeted questions into their presentation.
-(Plush) microbes! There’s nothing like “Thanks for that talk. As a gift, we’d like to give you gonorrhea!” Each moderator and speaker got a different one–as did the winner of the Twitter contest.
A wonderful weekend–and here’s to hoping for a SkepTech 2.
Photo credit: Geeks Without God