We were sponsored by Mozilla Labs (of course as this is part of the concept series) and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at UNC Chapel Hill.
All in all, the event was very successful. The three things I heard the most from attendees were:
- “I’ve learned at least as much as I’ve put in if not a lot more”
- “I’m having a lot of fun!”
- “This has really changed how I think of group work”
Unfortunately, as is often the case with free events, some of the people who registered didn’t show up. We had space for 32, at our high had a registration number of 28 ended up with ~20 registrations once cancellations came in, and 15 people showed up, 1 of whom was a walk-in that I had extended an invitation to. So, small group. I’m not sure how to combat this phenomenon. I had the same experience with THATCamp RTP. In the end it was a really good size though. I put people into three groups of 5. Each group had a smart room with projectors, Internet access, etc (something that wouldn’t have been possible had we had more). Needless to day, all things have their blessings.
As an organizer I was forced to be in on the outside looking in. I spent a little bit of time with each group usually listening, occasionally speaking. Two of the three groups were so in to their design that there really wasn’t room for late/outside contributions. Our mentor, Joyce Rudinsky, had the same experience as she moved from team to team. This was a good thing. They all produced some pretty amazing stuff, that they have posted (and are continuing to post) to the wiki.
In terms of things that were successful, my top 3 things that went well were:
- Teams of 5 (seemed like just the right number)
- Lunch (we were able to provide it, and people socialized the entire time and got to know each other)
- Spaces/Stationary (it seemed like people had access to everything they needed so they were okay “locking” themselves in their rooms.)
Three things that could have been a bit better:
- A bit more time to plan (we were constrained based on space availability)
- Finding ways to get broader outreach (We had a good group, but would have loved a little bit more diversity)
- More structured input points (I think if the teams knew at point x someone will stop by and critique it would have been easier)
All in all though, the event was a great success. If anyone is interested in seeing what we did, please check out the wiki!
I am looking forward to seeing what the other Design Jams come up with.