Session Transcripts

A live transcription team captured the SRCCON sessions that were most conducive to a written record—about half the sessions, in all.

After the Altar Call—Maintaining Momentum, Community, and Inspiration Beyond Conferences

Session Facilitator(s): Kaeti Hinck, Millie Tran

Day & Time: Friday, 4:30-5:30pm

Room: Ski-U-Mah

Hey, everybody. How’s it going?

Last SRCCON session. Thanks for joining us. I’m Kaeti Hinck. I’m the Design Director for INN.

And I’m Millie—oh, God this is loud. I’m Millie, I work on the BuzzFeed news app.

So today we’re talking about what happens after SRCCON. This is something that we’ve both thought about a lot, because we go to a lot of conferences, we get super inspired, we have all this momentum, we want to build things, we want to learn new things and then we get back to our daily lives and life happens, work happens, the projects that you wanted to collaborate on kind of fall to the bottom of the list because you’ve got daily deadlines or whatever.

Or the people you said you want to keep up with, you never contact. We actually met at SRCCON last year,.

And we’re still talking.

We’re still talking.

This is a success story right here.

Yeah, this is a case study.

So I think the first—we’re going to do a little group work today, but before we get into that, we just want to talk about a little bit of what concrete things you want to take away from SRCCON specifically. We’ve been here two days, you’ve been to all the sessions, so what were you inspired to learn? What do you want to take with you in between like in the margins before your next big inspiring conference? What do you actually want to get done and learn?

So this step we kind of want to build a concrete foundation to have concrete goals in mind so we can prepare to accomplish these things before we leave. So to take advantage with all of us here, like in person, so …

So what has been the best thing?

For our team it’s going to be the user feedback and research and involving them sooner in the process. There’s been several sessions that have touched on that heavily and there’s one thing coming away interest this is that type of feedback cycle with our users.

So you want to implement more.

Implement into our process.

I’ll attempt to write some of this down.

I want to keep some of the conversations going that I just had like in between sessions, with new people that I met, about like shared interests and topics that we have in common, so I met some people working on fun stuff that I’m like geeking out about that I didn’t know they were working on, so just like to keep that conversation.

Translate those hallway conversations into an ongoing kind of relationship and build on that.

Other things?

So you don’t have to share it, but just think about someone who you want to keep in touch with or were really inspired by. Just keep that in mind.

I’ll share something. I’d like to take home some process tools, like the responsibility assignment matrix that was the CPR team talked about, and one of the other things to take home is—sorry, come back to me. Thanks.

All right.

This doesn’t even have to be a work thing. This can be a personal, professional thing.

I got some good ideas for use ability testing and like human-centered design, just different things that people were mentioning. So definitely keep those in mind.

I just want to at least be more of an advocate in my organization for making accessibility questions at the forefront of like the beginning of projects. You know, whether or not I can make that difference is going to fend on other stuff, but I at least want to be someone always reminding me of that.

I’d like to maintain the sense of perspective that I’ve gotten from SRCCON, because it’s sometimes easy when I’m the only person tackling some of these problems to think that I am absolutely failing at figuring out what everyone else has figured out but when you come here, you realize that a lot of these problems are very common.

We’re all failing.

Yeah, there’s not a great single solution for everything, so.

I think I intend to use the conference a little bit as like a springboard to start some conversations in a like very pointed kind of way. Like you sent me, you want to know what I learned? Like we need to think about this thing that we have never thought about before and just use it as a way to be really forceful so it doesn’t seem like it’s coming out of the blue and maybe like get some leverage that way.

Conference as leverage, I like that.

Go ahead?

I want a sense of what I missed in the sessions I couldn’t see and I’d like be to be able to see some summaries. There’s a scattering of—but to have it consolidated in such a way.

Catch up on all the documentation.

Yeah, and just be able to look at it.

I just wrote down FOMO for you.

I’d like to take tips just on like the event itself, as like like somebody who’s trying to do events at work, like the way things were conducted, I thought was great. The actual conference.

This is a solid list.

Figuring out how to find or grow this kind of community where I live.

That’s a good list.

All right. So now, we’ve got this list and some ideas and I don’t know where the cursor is. Here it is.

So we’re going to do some work in smaller groups, so how many of you know everybody you’re sitting at the table with?

You need to move tables.

If you know someone at your table, move. And anybody at a table with just yourself or maybe one other person, you should consolidate so you have someone to work with.

All right, so in your groups, you can start by kind of identifying one thing as a group you’re going to tackle, maybe one of the things on the list that we just talked about or something else entirely, but it would probably be good to focusing on like one specific thing, like oh, I want to figure out how to grow this community in my area, and once you’ve sort of identified that how might we question, talk about what obstacles are going to come up to that? Like what’s going to make it hard to do that? What has stopped me from doing that in the past?

We have some examples up there and in the Google doc.

These are just also these are just kind of guide questions, we don’t want you to be like OK, now I’m in this group and this sucks, so you kind of have guideline questions, you don’t have to follow them.

Let the conversation take you where it takes you.

Yeah. And.

And then start talking about solution, like what can we do to address this problem? How can we make it accessible to other people? How can we bring new people in? If it’s a tool or like the news nerd slack room which already exists, but how do we make that more accessible?

So kind of our thinking in building this whole session was that we would go from concrete thing which were these problems or not problems but kind of these goals that we want to pursue, and then go into this theoretical and imagine problems you might face and anticipate them so we can solve them and then end with some concrete things you can do to go back there.

So yeah, so just talk through some of the stuff in your group and then in the last about ten minutes, we’ll do a report back, and just share on the next page we’ve got kind of a list sort of what you could share with the whole room, you know, what you hope to accomplish, obstacles and specific tactics that might help, and how we’re going to hold ourselves accountable to actually make this stuff happen.

Yeah, go for it.

[group activity]

We’re going to start report backs in about 10, 12 minutes … …

[group activity]

All right, let’s get started on report-backs, because we’ve got quite a few groups.

Who wants to go first?

Call on them, they seem animated.

All right.

What did you talk about?

We talked about how to go home and actually effect some change in our somewhat stubborn organizations. Not that we all have stubborn organizations, but hypothetically. So how are we actually going to go home and effect change? Obstacles? We talked about—we don’t have time to effect change or to implement, you know, most of us go back to work cycles that are very full. So figuring out how to work in new stuff and new process is going to be difficult. We talked about being in like—too far along in projects where we maybe learned something that would have helped, but it’s kind of like already passed so then do you wait for the next project that’s going to come round, you know? And we talked about like going back and talking to coworkers who aren’t really interested in what we learned, and like especially like we’ve probably picked up some jargon that’s not going to translate well to people who are not here, and in my experience jargon often puts people off right off the bat. So those are kind of our obstacles to the goals and here is what we came up as far as potential solutions. Right off the bat, convert somebody else in your organization. Find some willing person who you can bring into your coven and get people on your side, right? And one of the ways you could think about doing that is to talk about what you learned in a way that solves one of their problems. So this is one of my things. It’s like I have strategies that are going to solve a lot of my problems, but they’re also probably going to solve other people’s problems and if I can pitch them that way, then I can get them on board, and to start small. Like start with a small thing where you can implement something cool and then hopefully it will sort of trickle down or trickle over, or somebody else will see something that you did that’s cool and be like, I want to learn more about that, and especially if you’re able to actually implement saying, have metrics that you can use to report back and say hey, because we did this thing, I have these metrics that I can show you my success, right so it’s a way to sort of bring people over. And sort of along that same vein, have working sessions with your coworkers that are again helping them solve their problems with what you learned, and then sort of for your own personal benefit, like how are you going to actually go home and do this stuff? We talked about like maybe every day, set aside 10 minutes where you think about SRCCON, and like idea one problem that you might be able to solve and review your notes and like think about how you could have done something different today that you didn’t, but just set aside a little time. Maybe join hacks/hackers or some other organization of journo-technologists who you can talk to, like have some sort of external resource, whether it’s people here you stay in touch with, or get on a Slack like news nerdery that’s the one you mentioned, right?

We should share that. OK, I’ll add it.

Or have people that you can talk with and collaborate with. Guys, how did I do? OK, go team.

Yeah, sure, I’ve got the notes. So we talked about how to maintain the awesome perspective that we’ve all gotten from talking to people who are in similar situations and face similar problems, but that can be hard, because when you go back to your news organization, editors just don’t understand.

And you can—there’s a sense of isolation for a lot of us, because we work on small teams or teams of one on those kind of—this kind of coding, slash news work and there can be a real lack of empathy in news organizations, there’s just kind of a sense of, I don’t know, sometimes like a lack of understanding and just get it done and we need this now. Tends to be more the culture there.

So to kind of address this, to keep our heads clear and to keep that perspective, one idea was to sort of make a plan, like in writing, for the kinds of things we want to accomplish, and kind of check in with that plan at a certain time, but don’t beat ourselves up when it is not accomplished. We also talked about kind of trying to win over colleagues or evangelize some of this stuff, because then you have someone who’s going to back you up when you face resistance or you just have people that you can could he miss rate with, at least, so then there’s your empathy, taking that beyond your own organization, yeah, find the local community, whatever it is. And then also taking it beyond the local community, we also talked about news nerds, Slack and perhaps there are other resources. Anything else?

In our office, as far as like trying to win over colleagues and stuff, one thing we do is we have weekly lightning talks, and so a lot of times after conferences like this, like next week I’ll probably talk a lot about what I learned or brought back and things I’m excited about trying to get the rest of my coworkers excited about the same stuff.


We talked about bringing things back to our news organization, and also staying involved and making a record of what we learned here. And one of the things that we thought about was making a Storify, because it will alert people who you include their tweets, so you can connect with them, reconnect with them through the Storify, you can remember things like, you put links in there, and pull quotes and remember what you’ve done and what you’ve learned at the SRCCON.

Ours was a little bit more amorphous, we talked a little bit about being able to expand the community, and not just take things back for ourselves, but take back the things we learned for other people, and figuring out ways to do that because in some ways, the people who know this is important sign up early and the people who it could really help don’t necessarily—aren’t necessarily part of the conversation on Twitter in the news nerd Slack. We didn’t come up with great solutions for how to do that, but that was a lot about what we talked about.

Does anybody else have any thoughts about that?

Anyways we can expand the community or bring people in who aren’t here?

We talked here in this group about open news and everybody can participate in them and I think they are great, because people who don’t go show the others how to do it and so … … [inaudible]

So in the open source communities I’ve been involved in, we have a saying that if there’s not a user group in our area, congratulations you’re the new president and it’s kind of this thing—I’ve yet to meet someone here from Utah who works in Utahan journalism. I think I’m the only one here. We have lots of news organizations and so maybe I’m going to reach out and maybe form a you know, tech journo, whatever you want to call it, just small meetup once a month or maybe once a quarter where we get together and kind of start just that little bit of sharing from what here, and kind of trying to create that same type of culture locally.

So congratulations you are the new Utah president.

I know. If you guys come up with a cool name for it, let me know.

There was one other thing that we talked about bringing back what we learned back to our newsroom instead of trying to teach people how to make graphics in D3, looking at tasks that can be automated and tasks that are taking up reporters’ time or else’s time at the organization and at that intersection write a script and hopefully the person who wrote that code with you would know enough to be able to like maintain that code and it would help themselves and then would be more empathetic with what you’re doing and what your job is and they would understand.


We talked a lot about empathy in general. The two of us had gone to both the conflict resolution talk and the talk about burnout, and just talking about how we can support our coworkers so that, you know, they’re leading happy, healthy, balanced, and productive lives, and also about how we can be also empathetic to different teams, whether we’re both—we’re developers, I didn’t grab your name, and editor. So how we can be empathetic with teams in order to build better tools so that everybody’s jobs are a little bit easier and how we can be empathetic to our users, whether that’s through user research so that we can build things that are more usable. We didn’t get into any like solid ways of doing that, because we started chatting about, like pili forts.

But that’s going to be memorable.

We can open that. I mean not the pili fort. Also the pili fort. I meant the excuses.

Anybody have any other ideas how we can support to each other.

Like what’s one or two ways you can be nice to someone?

One thing we did say is we were talking about burnout and we were saying how we feel really compelled to want to take on everything, because everything is awesome and amazing, I guess, and being that person who tells the other coworker that they’re taking on too much, or just saying, no, you do not need to do this, you should go home, you should like eat more than pizza pops and like sleep for more than six hours, like a whole eight hours would be great and it would be really useful for everyone so just like trying to communicate that you want people to take care of themselves, very verbally.


I think, too, you can’t overestimate how good positive feedback is. And I have some coworkers who have—who are in spaces where there’s no feedback mechanisms, so sometimes like I’ll get like—I’ll give them positive feedback on something that I don’t even have a hand in. Just so they can hear some like constructive. It seems to me so rare, right, positive feedback and we could all give them the habit of –

Trying to say one nice thing to someone about something they did.

And I will say, though, that I hate the—I hate like bland positive feedback monition. It’s almost worse than no feedback, sort of like you did a great job today it’s like that’s sort of nice but it means nothing to me, so actual positive feedback means engaging with something that somebody is doing, right? So it does take a little bit of time.

Today we were talking about also fostering personal relationships and I find like I’m extremely remote from my team. I’m in Canada, everybody else is on the east coast. And telling somebody that they did a great job is kind of the best like seriously because if you put it into Slack or something, I can’t hear you laughing empathy. I am not that great of hearing in the first place, but even just like the little things with like, hey, your joke was funny or that email you sent was really nice, or you know, I saw an illustration you did in your spare time and it was awesome, like just like those personal things that are out side of work that make people feel good so that you can foster a relationship.

I think another way to show empathy is especially for lots of group meetings where you have overlaps in disciplines or you have disciplines where there’s not a lot of overlap, trying to frame things in lowest common denominator terms and being sensitive to the room. If you feel it being too jargoning or too down a rat hole, pulling the conversation back so that everybody thinks they’re starting at the same place. And not presuming everybody in the room is caught up to speed and knows what’s happening. I think a lot of times people find themselves embarrassed in meetings because they don’t quite know how they got to that part of the conversation.

I think it’s—whatever the specific thing is to understand where the position is in that thing. Like if it’s design, every organization has design at a certain level and there’s other levels beyond it. But you can’t go ten levels instantly, you have to pick one. So I think it’s helpful to figure out where that thing is and then where’s the next thing.

Where’s the mic?

Fine. Should I be talking or should someone else be talk snag.

We talked about like four different things. We have no solutions.

Well, pick one and we can work on them.

OK. You made me talk, so I’ll talk about myself. Building community locally. I guess similar to what you were saying, like, you know, start a meetup. Let’s see. What am I supposed to be talking about really quickly?

Oh, yeah, obstacles. Obstacles, finding people, no, I don’t even really want to talk right now, but—so my obstacles specifically are running a tech community already but not being able to get journalism people involved is the challenge primarily. So figuring out how to do that, and, you know, sort of reviewing like dead hacks/hacker group in the city like come back to life or go away completely. Choose one.

Does anyone—we’re all in journalism, but does anyone on the editorial side have thoughts about being brought back in?

What would make you want to actually attend a journalism meetup if you haven’t attended one before?

Free food. Pizza.


Well, why don’t you two connect and talk about starting something.

Next group? S just a suggestion like if you want the journalist to come to your hangout, but what about if you go to their hangout and try to like build a bridge either of jargon or if there’s intimidation elements or it might be too techy the conversation, so …

OK, now, mostly we’re not many so mostly talk about how to continue being connected, so we talked about an experience that we met like 13, 14 years ago at a conference, so we were talking about that experience a little on this topic came up after that, and also we talk about the community calls that people don’t know that happens and is such a good way to continue with the community OpenNews. Also to see how people are doing it in other newsrooms, so mostly we talked about that.

Did you guys say you’ve known each other for 13 years? Yes.

How did you two stay connected?

We, I mean there were several groups and organizations collectives that came out from that tech conference for acktivists and then we did projects with them, so, yeah, that’s how. Yeah, we continued working in activism for all the time, so.

I think –

The conference in question was sort of two weeks long. So that helped.

And it was sort of already a fairly tight knit community but we built a bunch of effectively organizations leaving the conference, and so, yeah, so it was just that sort of ongoing work.

Yeah. Also see that at that conference, there was no internet and no phone.

That helps.

Where is this conference?

Can we go.

This was 2002.

So one thing that actually since we’ve been talking is sort of interesting, I went to try and join the news nerds Slack and I couldn’t, because it’s invite only, and so I think for online communities, being open to people who aren’t necessarily connected already is really important, because that was sort of—someone invited me now so I’m in –

Yes, barrier for entry there. For sure.

If there was an RMC in Slack, then anybody could just join.

There is an RMC but nobody uses it.

How to make RMC usable.

Out of scope.

Yeah, OK, how are you guys?

Yeah, so we kind of rambled a lot, but some of the obstacles, just kind of staying in touch with people after the conference was done, one of the things we talked about is tools. There are a lot of great tools that were mentioned over these two days, tools that we don’t know about.

Name some.

Like right like I actually have a list. There was actually a talk today about just tools, so you know, marionette backbone, reactive sales, middleman, web pack, Grunt, browsify, we can go on and on but a lot of great tools and maybe there’s a repository or something like that.

Right there.

Cool tools for news. There’s a read me file.

I think Chris Amiko may have started exactly that repo yesterday.


And some of the other stuff, I think we talked a little bit too, about when you go to this conference before you come here, having a more—I don’t know, a concentrated way or like a lens to view what you’re going to come out with, so I basically was asked by my team, hey, when you come back, just be prepared you know, when you come back, just talk about what you learned. So it’s always framing my context about what I remember, what I hold on to from the conference and then I wrote some reflections yesterday before the drinking happened.

That reminds me, I’ve been thinking about writing this conference goals sheet, just like maybe one or two things I want to take away from, you know, any conference I go to. I haven’t written it yet, but I thought about it, and that’s very—it’s very useful just to know, like these are the two things I want.

Like a goals worksheet?


Yeah, that’s a great idea.

You will.

Actually a really great idea, too, you touched on this a little bit but after these sessions having a little bit of discipline to it slow down and know that whatever is happening is going to still be happening but to really reflect on what you learned and not let the opportunity go by.

I like what you said back there. I think he called it work. And it is, it takes time to write an email to follow up with someone and say hey, I thought what you were doing was really interesting and what you were saying was really interesting and this is how we keep in touch but it’s work but it only takes a few minutes and it’s worth it. Because you can be friends for 15 years.

I think this is a great list of both problems, frustrations, but potential solutions, and I think these people in the room can help be people that keep us accountable and this is a community and the kind of community can help us continue the momentum, inspiration and work that we want to be doing in between conferences and bringing in people to the community who, for whatever reason can’t attend conferences, aren’t here.

We hope you found this useful.


[session ended]