It's a source of regular wonder that computing/IT conferences are still so heavily paper-based. Your conference pack is typically a sheaf of papers that includes, at a minimum, a schedule and a set of feedback forms. They lead to a few headaches for both attendees and organisers.
- Larger events have schedules where multiple talks happen in parallel. Planning my conference day involves circling talks I want to see, changing my mind, scratching out talks, circling others. This makes my physical schedule my actual planner, which is danger because;
- I usually forget the schedule somewhere, or it's packed away in a backpack. Come the end of a coffee break, my schedule isn't accessible and I must either scratch through my bag, or borrow someone else's schedule or find a printed schedule stapled to a door. Of course, someone else's schedule is also their planner, and has to be handed back on pain of glaring looks.
- For organisers, printed schedules are a pain. Shuffling the schedule is common, all it takes is one delayed flight or traffic jam. You're now left scrambling to inform everyone of the change. For the prepared organisers, this usually means further printed notices pasted around the venue, but oftentimes attendees are simply not informed about the change.
- Feedback. How is it that cons so often rely on paper-based feedback? From experience, speaker feedback is useful to two groups: for organisers, it provides insight into the capabilities of speakers, and for speakers there is the obvious benefit in hearing what the audience thought of the presentation. However, paper-based feedback has a high amount of friction. Attendees don't tend to fill out feedback forms, and have to be repeatedly
haranguedencouraged to do so. I suspect this is a combination of disinterest, a one-way feedback process, and having little incentive to supply feedback. Organisers also face friction in the printing, distributing, collecting, capturing and collating of feedback forms. What this leads to are situations where, at best, feedback is sent to speakers months after the event and, at worst, is simply discarded by organisers without ever being processed.
We think it's pretty nifty and we call it Consli. It's open for beta.
If you're an organiser looking for a schedule and feedback system for your conference, we can help. Send a mail to email@example.com.