Emerge: A Web Heroine Filled Mini Conference
This week I experienced a web conference with a difference. Not only were all the speakers women, but, women were in the majority in the audience too. In addition to this 2 of the 3 days were spent at my desk in Team Cooper Towers here in sunny Sheffield.
I’ve never experienced a Webinar before but I’m really impressed with the technology, there were only a few hitches that were effortlessly and quickly dealt with utilising freely available simple technologies like sharing a Google presentation. It enabled me to listen in to the sessions while still at work and, as Keri Lambden suggested, I could have been sat in my dressing gown if I liked – sadly the windows at TC towers are large and I’m not sure the innocent people of Sheffield (let alone my poor colleagues) are quite ready for that horror.
I really enjoyed Rebekah Lock’s talk about unblocking her creativity by setting herself a 365 challenge , to create a heart in whatever style or media everyday for a year. The great thing about her session was she set us the challenge to come up with our own heart, I gave myself a 20 minute time limit and came up with this. Which reminded me that at Flash On The Beach I’d promised myself to do more doing and making for myself, I’m now considering setting myself a daily creative challenge, but, I’ll get back to you about that.
I found Annette Priest’s session on mobile user experience invaluable. Taking recent apps made by Starbucks as an example of good and bad usability design. I found it interesting that the one they made for “fun” she considered to be an empty experience. I think this is a problem, finding a place for fun interactions that are not a whole game but have value as an added bonus for your audience. It’s not really wise to make something flippant intended as a few minutes of interaction as a downloadable app. The user has expectations linked in to downloading an app. It’s why frippery and fun is best handled in browser, and I would say this, by Flash.
The final panel discussion featured four highly accomplished, experienced and inspirational women who had to tackle some really big questions about being women working in technology. Well respected UI design expert Sarah Parmenter spoke about teaching herself how to code. Entrepreneurial power house Sarah McVittie spoke about her deep love for data. Julie Howell discussed her years in the industry and how she and her peers invented social networking by creating large forums where groups with similar interest and needs would discuss their issues. Jess Ratcliffe, founder of the awesome site GaBOOM, talked about having an idea at 15 and setting up a business at 19.
I think the main thing that I got from the conference was that, despite being a minority, women are a thriving vital part of the web community. We really enjoy the work and we bring a specific point of view to the market. We feel a little sad that there aren’t more of us but an event like Emerge gave us an opportunity to be more than the 12% in the room, even if it did mean there was a queue for the loos.