I’ll be Press at the Future of Web Design Conference + Discount Code

As someone interested in (eventually) working in technology, and trying to find a way to be part of a community of people dedicated to programming, I’m all about trying to attend as many tech events as financially possible. On top of this, my work in photography lends itself well to covering tech events as a member of the press. Not only do I get to attend a lot of events (for free!), but I also get to learn more about the industry, network and learn more about how people are using technology to make the world a more fun, safer and easier place to leave.

It’s with this attitude that I attended the Wharton Web Conference (which I loved) a few months ago, and am excited to announce that I’ll be attending the Future of Web Design (also as press). It’ll be taking place in NYC from November 3rd to the 5th.

While I’m not really hip to the a lot of the tech conferences (yet), I did initially find out about FOWD through Rachel Nabors, who will be speaking at the event. (Also excited for THAT since she uses CSS and Javascript to animate her comics and I’m really interested in using web development in a non-traditional way).

On top of that, I’m also a media partner which basically means you’ll see me tweeting or talking about the event before it takes place (and also during) via social media. And because I’m partnering with FOWD, you guys get a 10% off discount code to attend: DRIVEN!

I’m really excited for this (I really, really love conferences!).

If any of you decide to attend, I’d love to know!

 

 

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Overcoming Your Fear of Street Photography

I took this photo while in Starbucks.
I took this photo while in Starbucks.

A massive barrier I keep coming up against in my own street photography is the fear of photographing people.

In the beginning, I never liked pictures of people; they bored me and I often preferred architectural or landscapes if I was going to be looking at anything. But as I’ve begun to take photography more seriously – with my new Sony dSLR and growing collection of lens and books – I’ve started to feel that perhaps maybe people do add a little extra something.

Admittedly, I’m still not really that into straight up portraiture and do prefer having people in context of something else, but overall – snapping more photos of people have put my photography at a standstill. Fortunately, Eric Kim (whose photography blog I’ve grown to LOVE) had written a free ebook eons ago about how to deal with this very thing!

Even though he lists it as days (ie: you do a new technique each day), I prefer to think of them as 31 ways to approach your fear of street photography so that you’ll have an arsenal at your disposal. Here are seven I enjoyed the most:

  1. Identifying What You’re Afraid Of: I loved this because it’s easier to tackle your fear if you know what it actually is! Eric lists some reasons that I found true to heart: getting weird looks, getting arrested or being afraid of someone reacting badly (I once called a guy out on the train because I thought he photographed me – but I also hate having my picture taken by pretty much anyone).
  2. Shooting With a Small Camera/Phone: I do this pretty frequently since culturally, lots of people use their phones as cameras so it’s not usual for someone to whip it out. Wielding a camera around – especially if it has a zoom lens – is a bit more niche and doesn’t lend itself to being more covert (if that’s what you’re looking for).
  3. Shooting With a Group / Friend: This one is pretty obvious. If you’re with a bunch of people, the context is obvious (you’re students or tourists or whatever) so there’s overall less fear about snapping strangers’ picture.
  4. Focusing on Different Body Parts: I think this is also a good practice anyway because sometimes someone’s face isn’t really that interesting.
  5. Don’t Think Too Much: Eric offers a good point about “analysis paralysis”. Just shoot the photo and worry about their reaction later.
  6. Prepare An Explanation: If, in the event that someone demands to know what you’re doing, just have something ready to say or offer.
  7. Bring Business Cards: If you don’t feel like explaining yourself, just whip out the trusty business card: that way people can tell you’re legit (or at least legit enough to buy business cards) and you’ve potentially gotten a new fan (or customer!) if they manage to actually visit your site.

What are some extra tips you’d offer? What have you done that has helped you? 

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Pics Or It Didn’t Happen: Sharing & Instagram

I love Instagram. But since I’m not an early adopter, it took me forever to get a smartphone and even longer before I downloaded the wildly popular app.

And I’m super addicted.

Whenever something – a scene, a person, an event – catches my eye, I whip out my Android and start snapping away. My usual habit is to take as many photos as possible so that I have a few to choose from. I want to make sure the lighting is right, the angle is perfect, so that when I go in to [ferociously] edit the image, it’ll look exactly as I want.

And lately I’ve been thinking a lot more about how photography is used to record our memories, since we can’t possibly remember everything. But it’s not just our memories that we’re looking to keep forever, it’s events too. You’re walking by someone who has on this spectacular outfit, or there’s a fight in the street, or some performers on the train – you must take a picture. Otherwise, it’s almost like it didn’t happen. Like you weren’t even there.

For example, I was in New York recently for work and I passed by a gang of people lingering outside a hotel. Immediately I knew it had to be a celebrity – why else would people just be waiting in such a large group? I asked a random by-stander, and he said it was One Direction – a teen boy band I couldn’t careless about.

For some reason, I didn’t snap a picture of the crowd [for my Instagram] and although it’s been several days since then – I’m still thinking about it, regretting my decision. What a wonderful, perfect moment to have snapped a picture of! And that time has passed and I’ll never have that [specific] experience again.

I never used to be the type of person who took a lot of pictures – either of myself or others. So why am I now a “pics or it didn’t happen?!” fiend?

Maybe it’s because images are so accessible. Even though there are definitely hold-outs – people who don’t want to get smart phones or use Instagram – by and large, the average person is really eager to share their life via photographs with others (if not the world). And there’s certainly a demand for these photos – especially for vacations or weddings.

Sometimes people will treat your personal life as something for them to consume. I felt this own reaction in myself when a blogger I follow recently got married and hadn’t uploaded any images (immediately) of her wedding. Although it wasn’t an overwhelming sensation, I definitely felt left out and saddened when she waited to announce that she had gotten married, and only then sharing just two photos.

We’re not friends. She doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall. I’m just someone consuming her life (ie: blog) and I wanted access to her wedding photos.

But… why?

Perhaps it’s about connectivity. We feel more bonded to people when we can see their faces, their lives – to share, is to relate. Perhaps it’s own my eagerness about marriage – even though I’m not dating (or even remotely close to doing so), seeing other people’s wedding images let me live vicariously through them. Maybe it’s a cultural expectation – someone gets married, they splash their pictures all over the internet and we collectively rejoice in their nuptials.

All I know is that the only picture of me and my best friend that exists is also the home screen on my phone, and that if it ever got deleted, it’d be gone forever. We can’t get those moments back, and photographs give us the ability to revisit tender moments with friends, loved ones or just plain adventures. Even as I scroll through my own Instagram feed – looking at what other people are doing, recording, seeing – it lets me experience those moments too.

Do you ever want to see pictures of people’s lives? 

 

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Conference Review: Wharton Web Conference 2014

Today I got to attend the Wharton Web Conference, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had gone last year, when Felicia Day had done the keynote. It’s a really fantastic tech conference to go to that offered three different tracks this year: content, developer, and design. (I did the content track!).

A few things were different: they had volunteers with plaid shirts to guide people (VERY helpful), with our badges we were given the opportunity to put stickers on them to make networking easier, and they had created an app (that I didn’t use) that had a list of all the talks and where they’d be.

So, let’s begin, shall we?

Breakfast 

Since I knew the conference would have nom-tastic food, I chose to skip breakfast at home and partake in some sugar-y delights. It’s amazing how good the food was (superior to the food I had at GDC in every way!). And I got to run into Amanda Lange there, who I originally met at Lady Hacks earlier this year.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Keynote: Danah Boyd

Danah Boyd

Danah’s speech was… amazing. Even though she spoke a bit quickly, I loved her talk. One of my biggest issues at tech events is the overwhelming lack of diversity: if there are women at the event, they tend to be white (or asian). The entire time I was there, I only saw three other black women despite an attendance of 300 people.

I will say, though, that I was thrilled that Wharton chose another woman as the keynote speaker (and oh.my.God was she brilliant! I’d never met anyone who instantly inspired me and made me want to follow them to the ends of the Earth while in their presence).

In her talk, Danah made consistent mentions to systemic oppression, societal injustices, racism, capitalism – the whole nine yards. I immediately became interested in her work, particularly the intersectional lens between big data and social justice.

After her talk, I thanked her for talking about these issues (especially since they’re not as prevalant in tech as they need to be), about how these kinds of events tend to be geared toward white, hetero, cis men and no one ever really talks about social justice. (Afterward, one of the volunteers told me that Wharton strives to be as inclusive as possible, which I appreciated, though I didn’t catch the volunteer’s name).

Danah Boyd

Session 1: Links as Language: A Contextual Approach to Content Creation by David Dylan Thomas

Link As Language

This was definitely my favorite talk all day. First off, David’s definitely a nerd (which naturally I appreciated!) and mentioned video games and movies that had a gameplay narrative (a non-linear way of telling a story, like Groundhog Dog or Edge of Tomorrow).

But for me, the key to a good talk is that my mind is expanded in some capacity by the speaker, and that that knowledge can be applied to my own life and thinking.

I loved this quote (that I tweeted) from David’s speech:

And… that’s just so ground-breaking to me. In his talk, David showed us pictures of the Universe, of the brain, and talked about how it’s not just the web that’s interconnected, but all of us too. To me, when your blog is small (and therefore lacks any kind of readership, community or notoriety), it can feel like you’re talking into the ether, that no one is listening. Having links can help connect you to others (it’s probably why so many bloggers do weekly link round-ups!) while building your presence online.

Link as Language
Links, I think, are often overlooked because they’re so common. But they’re SO important to our content and they’re a key component in how giving you are as a blogger. It’s perfectly acceptable to link others to awesome, and worthwhile content that’ll help or entice them!

Lunch

By this point I was completely starving. Even though lunch wasn’t phenomenal, it was pretty tasty. (I definitely wish the salmon had been warm instead of cold).

WWC Lunch

WWC Lunch

WWC Lunch

WWC Lunch

WWC Lunch

Session 2: How Videogames are Changing the Way We Learn by Chris Stubbs 

The reason I had attended this talk: GAMES. I love anything that’s about games, so naturally I felt compelled. Even though educational games are interesting to me, it’s almost purely conceptual. I did, however, love his example of EconU – a game designed to help students in a Microeconomics class – and enjoyed his examples of how playing games helped get the students really engaged (such as the class that used Guitar Hero to get middle schoolers interested in music education). And I did particularly enjoy this one tweetable (that I paraphrased):

Chris Stubbs

I also liked how he talked about gamification – an idea that still alludes me at times – where businesses will do things like include badges and leveling up components (ie: Starbucks upgrading you every time you buy X amount of coffee). And Chris mentioned how his team needs to make games for the blind – and accessibility in tech is pretty important (and often overlooked).  Overall, I really enjoyed this talk. 

Break

Cupcakes! Cookies! And other delicious things! Oh my!

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Snacks

Session 3: Orchestrating Content by Sara Wachter-Boettcher

This is the talk that allowed me to discover how I learn best: context (which is one of my strength finder’s actually), big picture, and applicable metaphors that break down the big picture stuff into succinct and understandable concepts.

It’s not that Sara was a poor speaker, but the construction of her speech didn’t align with how I learn best. Immediately, she dived into her presentation and began talking about her work as a content strategist and for the entirety of the talk I wasn’t sure what she meant by content – she had never defined it, or placed it within a framework for her speech.

Orchestrating Content

Upon further reflection, I realized that she also hadn’t really integrated the concept of an orchestra into her talk, instead giving a hat tip to it before quickly moving on to the next topic.

I definitely wish she had created a foundation by explaining who she was, what her work was, and what she would go over in her talk. It felt like random information, and I can’t say I was completely engaged. Perhaps her next speech – if she gives another talk here in Philly – will be much better.

Happy Hour! 

The end of the conference! The food was – again – delicious. I didn’t really stay long – I was full, and tired from being around people all day.

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SONY DSC

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Overall Impression: I loved being at the Wharton Web Conference – the talks are diverse and interesting, and there’s definitely something for everyone! I’m excited for next year already!

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