DSU 1.0 Wrap Up Notes

by Todd

Well, this is embarassingly late, but we’ve finally got some time to wrap up the the Digital Storytelling Unconference that we put on in early July.

What Happened?

First, that adage of unconferences about the people who show up being the right ones was proven true once again. Those who came out proved themselves a great group: friendly, curious, and ready to dance on the edge of emerging ideas.

We cast a wide net with the subject, and got a wide range of conversations back from it. Conversational dialog in video games, tattoo culture, the New Aesthetic, breadcrumbing, and the list of talks went on. While it’s always a good experience to have someone present comfortably, we love seeing the ad-hocracy format of lighting pitches and dot-voting bring move people to pitch their own topic and lead discussions even though they hadn’t planned to, and sure enough that happened, too.

So what did we take away from it all, besides a good day of discussion and some new friends? For one, we learned that storytelling is definitely being changed by digital culture, but that it is a force to be reckoned with and is imposing its own terms on digital culture at the same time.

We also learned that almost none of this is purely theoretical, but that people are doing real work without waiting for anyone to tell them it’s all been figured out and it’s safe to start now. There’s somehting in the air on this topic, and from the response that we got with this first time out for the Vancouver area, we’ll almost certainly be doing it again.

Running a Conference

At the end of the day we looked at each other and wondered how everything came off so smoothly? Did that just happen, with hardly any problems at all? It did, and we have a lot of people to thank for it.

First, our co-organizers Kaishin Chu and John Wellwood, for stepping up and taking care of all sorts of things that we couldn’t. And right after that, the volunteers who came out to an untested event and did their best to help out. They made a real difference and we hope they had a good experience.

Next up, sponsors. We were really lucky to get sponsors who bought into the vision and didn’t ask for much at all in return. The Network Hub, our title sponsor, provided not only the space but also contacts to The River Market, who were also great to work with. Minna and Jay even helped us set up and take down before and after, and really got involved in the day. If there’s anyone building community in this town, it’s them.

Echo Memoirs and HELM Studio came in with financial sponsorship and helped cover our costs, but also gave a lot of support in spirit, which can’t be under-stated.

And finally, Kiran and Mark from the River Market, who opened the market space up to breakout groups, liased with food vendors and were just all around helpful and great to work with.

Closing Notes

Would we do it again? Yup. Will we do other events? Likely. Something we learned from taking the event into New Westminster is that there is a thirst for interesting events happening outside of Vancouver. There are people who want to make it to the things going on in town, but sometimes that trip is a long one to make. Moreover, it feels like it’s Vancouver vs the rest of the region when gatherings happen in the same areas too much, so taking it outside helped create a neat new mix of people. We also learned that getting to New West isn’t that hard; it’s just one Skytrain ride and there you are, right on the waterfront, which is definitely an up and coming area.

We had set out to donate any surplus money from sponsorship and ticket sales to a literacy based organization, but after adding everything up and cutting some cheques, we just about broke even. We’re happy for that, but wish that a donation could have come out of it. With the experience under our belts we’ll know more about what to expect on the financial side next time.

So that’s a wrap. Again, thanks to everyone who came out, and if there are links to blog posts and such that you’d like us to add to this post, send them in.