Dan Sinker: Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life. Electric word “life” means forever, and that’s a mighty long time, but I’m here to tell you there’s something else: SRCCON.
[ Applause ]
Welcome to Minneapolis. It seems like the only way to start something like this is with a little bit of Prince and welcome to SRCCON. We are—I’m Dan Sinker, I should introduce myself first. I’m the director of OpenNews. You’re going to meet all my colleagues from OpenNews in just a second, but I wanted to really personally thank all of you for making the trip to Minneapolis and coming inside on what is an absolutely gorgeous, Midwestern, early summer day. We have two really incredible days ahead of us here at SRCCON. They are days that are filled from start to finish with discussion and participation, with collaboration and sharing. There’s going to be days that fill your head with new ideas and with new plans but I hope that first and foremost, they are days that introduce you to new people because people are really the core of SRCCON. The things each of you bring with you today, the solutions to problems that you’ve had, the approaches you’ve taken to building and running teams, even the coffee and tea that many of you brought for the Coffee & Tea Hack Stations in the back, you know, these are the things that are going to make this SRCCON amazing and I, personally, am really glad to be here. A quick confession: I literally almost didn’t come. My wife is literally days away from delivering our second child and…
Thank you. We found out the due date a week after we signed the contract for this space, so we couldn’t really move that and thankfully, all the folks that I’ve worked with on this, just said, “You know what, do what you need to do.” And then finally, Janna said, “Get out. You’re making me too nervous for two days.” So I’m A, really glad to be here, and B, really been thinking a lot about family. And kind of seeing everyone here in front of tables, sitting around, we are a kind of family. We’ve all chosen to work in an intersection of news and technology. It’s an intersection that becomes more vital and more important and more exciting by the day. Frankly, I’m surprised that none of you had to go out to jump and cover the Supreme Court ruling today. Thank you for being here and present even as news breaks. It’s an exciting intersection but we know it’s not an easy one. The work is demanding. The pay doesn’t line up. Diversity is a struggle.
Yet we choose to be here, we choose to do the very best work that this industry sees. And we do that, every day, on a deadline, no matter what because we’re a family. We work and we build, and we create together. And that, really, is what the next two days are about: You’re going to learn new technologies. You’re going to come up with great new solutions, but ultimately, we’re going to strengthen these familial bonds. We’re going to grow together and we’re going to just kick some real ass. So to talk about how we’re going to do that over the next couple of days, I want to introduce two of my amazing colleagues, Erika Owens and Ryan Pitts.
[ Applause ]
Erika Owens: Hello. So as Dan mentioned, we have a lot of great stuff planned for you, and we’ve put a lot of intentionality into that planning to make sure that the needs and interests of this community were present in this event and that we were able to include all participants in what we’re working on.
So some of the things that we did to support that were, we did a lot of outreach to ensure that people were able to get tickets—the limited supply of tickets, which Erin also wrote a little bit about. And we also did a lot of outreach to encourage many of you—a third of you, to be our session facilitators. So we really wanted to support the folks that are bringing the questions and issues and the projects that you’ve been working on here to collaborate with the rest of the room. We also wanted to make sure you were supported in taking on that role of facilitation. So we did a couple of short-call trainings with session facilitators. We also had a session buddy for each session facilitator so you could ask questions, bounce ideas off that person of that session and that was really the aim of the facilitators but also of supporting all the participants so you all can know that you’re working together in your sessions and having the space to build really good connections.
We also made sure to document that work. As I mentioned, Erin wrote about tickets. We’ve written a lot of documentation and the decisions that we’ve made for the event and we’re going to post more about that during and after the event as well. Accessibility is also a key value that we hold at OpenNews and we wanted to see embodied in this event. One part of that is the actual physical space we’re in. It’s an accessible space. The city we chose also being an accessible city from many parts of the country and being more of an affordable city, being a city that we may have connections to, or for others, it might be our first time but we wanted to pick a place that was easy for folks to get to. We also wanted to make sure that people were able to come.
So we have a scholarship program that was supported by WordPress VIP that allowed us to give scholarships to participants which we were really excited about, using that as a way to help people access the space and the event. We also have childcare this year. It’s over at the hotel and you can go get info sheets. If you have a little stowaway in a bag that you would like to take to childcare, we have registration already. And we still have the space. We’re really excited about that as a way for parents to participate fully and be able to bring their kids along and know that they’re being taken care of.
We also have transcription happening throughout SRCCON. Transcription is supported by Slack. And just wanted to let you know a little bit about the transcription program. We have three wonderful stenographers, Stan’s over here typing away our opening plenary. Norma and Mirabai are also going to be in two of the rooms doing stenography for sessions during SRCCON. So we picked sessions that fit the needs of the spaces that we’re in as well as we thought would benefit from having a stenographer in the room, and the format would work well for having someone taking notes—live notes the whole time.
It’s also a way for us to support remote participation. So there’s, like, links on our site where you’ll be able to find the feeds and folks outside of the room will be able to participate as well. And we’ve also made it clear that if you want to go off the record at any point in the session it’s also possible to indicate that because sometimes conversations need to be private but we can bring it back on the record. And we’ll have that automatic record of the session to share with participants who aren’t here and to refer back to later. So we’re really excited about that as another way of increasing accessibility for people in the room and outside of SRCCON. So for more about how we thought about sessions and scheduling, Ryan’s going to come in and chat about that.
Ryan Pitts: Hello!
[ Applause ]
It is so cool to look out and see all of you here. Thank you for being here and for helping us make SRCCON possible. I mean, SRCCON is absolutely about all of you and it’s been amazing over the past couple of weeks while we’ve been looking at the schedule, just how many sessions people were bringing here. Hopefully, you’ve found the schedule app by now. If you have not, it’s schedule.srccon.org. And I just wanted to talk to you about how we think about participating in SRCCON sessions and how we structure the days and how we think you can get the most out of being here with us. So you probably picked up as Erika was describing SRCCON, our sessions are really designed to be interactive and participatory. There’s a reason we refer to them as “session facilitators” rather than as “speakers.” It’s because we want you to participate. They know, and we know that SRCCON is great when every single one of you brings what you know into the room and into that conversation. Everyone is a peer here, there’s an amazing amount of expertise in all these rooms and these sessions work best when you are willing to share what you know.
So please, speak up and do that. One thing that we noticed last year early on during SRCCON was how little tweeting there was going on during sessions and as we kind of walked around and looked in rooms. It totally clicked. People had heads up. They were actually engaged in conversation. Nobody had heads down, looking at laptops. Participate. These sessions will be great when you are engaged. We’re not saying, don’t tweet. Talk about the amazing things that you’re learning. But we really think that you’ll really think that you’ll get most out of SRCCON if you are present. How do you choose which ones to go to? Obviously, some will reach out and grab you. Obviously, these are things that I want to bring back to home, that are in this room. But I will say, if you go to a session and if it doesn’t turn out exactly to be what you were expecting, it’s totally okay to quietly pack up, and switch to another session and look for another session that you want to be a part of. If you just can’t decide which session you want to go to, one of my favorite pieces of advice that I’ve heard is to look at that list and to go to the last session that you think you want to be in. You’re going to get outside your comfort zone, you’re going to bring a new set of experiences to that conversation and really add something to the room that you’re in.
Another thing that we think that makes your SRCCON experience better is taking a little bit of the stress out of getting spaces on time. That’s why we start our sessions a little bit later. First session are at 11:00 a.m. today and at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. We also built 30 minute breaks between sessions and so if you’re engaged in conversation, we do understand that you might have to check emails, so we built in enough time for you to do that.
Visit the awesome coffee and tea station back there and continue having the conversations. Those are some of the best parts about being at a conference like this with so many amazing people around you. Most of our sessions here at SRCCON are one hour. There were a few that needed more time. Those are in blue on the schedule app. So those should be easy to identify. You might also notice that we have a few sessions planned during lunch this year. So this is something new that we’re trying. We tried to identify a few topics that could be talked as a group over a meal. I want to give special thanks to the facilitators who are helping to try this out this year. You’ll find the rooms and the times on the schedule. And so when we hit mealtime, feel free to grab food, hang out here, go out, get some sun, or head into one of those rooms to focus on one of those topical conversations. I will refer you to the easel in the back. There are a few blank spots on that easel. We have two lunchtime sessions today and one already planned for tomorrow. So that leaves a few open spots. If you would like to host a conversation, there’s an empty spot, there’s a pen, put it on the board. We would love to have you part of SRCCON in that way. One last way that we want you to get involved with SRCCON is spending time that’s not so intensely focused on digging into big topics and just enjoying yourself and spending some downtime around all these amazing people. So we had fun last year dividing into four rooms into themes. We still love the idea of hanging out together, playing games, showing what you’re working on, having conversation.
One thing that we loved this year, we loved the hometown beer and wine, that was fun. Another thing that’s a little bit different this year is we found last year’s schedule made it sort of hard to bounce around and participate in more than one thing. So we’ve structured it a little bit differently. There are things that run all evening. And there are a few pop-ups that let you go try something else. All of that is laid out in the schedule. What’s going on, where it will be. We have some very generous members of the community who are helping us to run those rooms. I want to take just a quick second to introduce you to them. So you know who to talk to if you have an idea, so Tiff, Joe, and Sisi, could you stand up? Thank you. These folks. These—there’s Joe. These folks will be helping in the game room that will be running all night. They brought some board games. If you brought a board game, if you have a game you want to teach people to play, there’ll be fun stuff going on all night. Katie, are you here? Allan and Katie are running our lightning talks. Those will go from 6:00 to 8:00. There is a website where if you have not pitched a lightning talk and you have an idea. I think there are submissions still being accepted. You can always check with Allan or Kaeti about that. That will be a super cool room.
We have an evening walk. Will, are you here? All right. You see Will? He’s got his hand up. Will is from the area and he will be leading a walk this evening. If you’ve been inside all day and you want to get out and get a little fresh air, that will be a time to do so. That will also be from 6:00 to 8:00. We have a hack space demo fair room. Justin—Justin. There’s Justin. That room will be open all night for people who want to play around with hardware stuff. From 8:00 to 9:00, there’ll be a demo fair if you have a project that you want to get some feedback on that will be a great time for that. Finally, we have a bookshare. Adam? We have a room set aside to talk about books. I don’t see Adam but Adam will be here and Adam will have some books. Talk, take some away with you. Share with somebody, talk about books. So thank you to those community organizers. Thank you for all our session facilitators for helping us put together this year’s schedule. That’s kind of how we think about participating in SRCCON, how the days are structured. So now, to talk about how we make a more about how we make all these ideas concrete, talk a little bit about the safety plan and the logistics we’re going to bring up Erin and Erik.
[ Applause ]
Erin Kissane: Hi, it really is so great to see all of you in this space. I’ve only seen photographs of this amazing building until we got here, and now we’re here, and you’re all here, and it’s amazing. You all look amazing today, by the way. You look so lovely.
So I just want to talk a little bit about some things that we tend to take for granted—which can be good. But I want to spend a little bit of time on them this morning while you’re all here. The first is we have a code of conduct. It’s on the website at srccon.org/conduct. We also have paper copies over by the lanyards if you want to read them on paper. It’s short. And it is a small piece of a big plan. It is the outwardly visible sign of an invisible, big thing which includes all of the safety work that’s going on backstage.
I want to situate that by saying that the things that are really important—some things that we’ve been talking about that are really important to us is that SRCCON be welcoming and safe and inclusive. And that’s what we see this work as. It’s not about policing. It’s about making the space really genuinely good for all of us humans. And the most important part of it, you know, I trust that you’ll take a look at it if you haven’t already, if I were to summarize the code of conduct in a sentence, it’s: Take care of each other. So I want to say you can talk to any one of us in a green shirt. There are two colors of green or gray, anything that says “SRCCON.” I’m from New York and as they have on our horrible subway signs: “If you see something, say something,” which is to say, if you see something, or experience something that makes you feel weird or uncomfortable, or you’re just not sure, totally talk to us. It’s okay. You don’t have to wait for it to, like, rise to the level of an emergency.
If you turn over your badge, the safety help line is on the back. That, you can send texts or voice. That rings the whole safety crew. You can call it at any time. And by “any time” I mean any time through SRCCON. Tonight after midnight we’re probably going to let it go to voice mail and check in at 7:00 in the morning but it covers all of SRCCON from now until at the end of the sessions and so that means you’re covered at the bar, you’re covered on campus, wherever you are if you need help. That said, if someone incurs a head injury particularly after 9:00 tonight, please call 911. Don’t hesitate to do that. It’s super important.
I also want to say, like, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes with this stuff. Our interface with security here on campus and otherwise. If any of you would like to know more about that work, about any of our accessibility stuff, about the catering, any of those things. Please come talk to us, we’re very happy to go into detail with you. Or if you have specific concerns about harassment, or anything. Again, find a person in a green shirt. And I’m just going to say it one more time: (772)266-2909. You’ll find pretty much any of us, pretty much day or night, around the clock. So that’s it on the safety talk. So now to talk about all the wonderful ways in which you will be fed and caffeinated and Wi-Fied, is Erik.
Erik Westra: Hi. Hello. Yeah, so I’m Erik and I’m, as everyone else has said, I’m also really excited that you’re all here but I’m even more excited because this is my city. I live in Minneapolis and it’s really great to have all of you here. What I would love to do is have anybody who’s from Minneapolis-St. Paul or nearby to stand up. I know there’s a bunch of us. So I’m volunteering all of you to be helpful. So if you guys have any questions about the city or, you know, a place to go, or something to do, those are the people that you want to talk to. But welcome on behalf of all of us to SRCCON in Minneapolis.
I’m going to talk through a couple of the, sort of, logistic situation. On your badge, which, some people have said, “It’s upside down!” But really, the whole idea is if you twist, instead of, like, flip, you twist and then you just get to look at it. There’s a map. There’s also a Wi-Fi username and password, which you’ve probably already discovered. Every single one of you has your own username and password. It’s going to help keep the system robust, running well, and, you know, that it’s an added little piece that I think is going to keep everything running smoothly. That being said, if you could turn off your Dropboxes and your boxes and your True Detective torrents and all those things for the sake of those things, that would be fantastic.
I want to talk about the lanyard color. And it’s something that you may have heard at registration. Basically if you’re taking pictures, a lot of people like to tie and post pictures. We’re going to be taking pictures. If you see someone wearing a green lanyard, that means that they’re coal with you taking their picture. If you see a yellow lanyard, you have to talk to them about it., and if you see a red lanyard, don’t ask, they’re not interested in being in photos which is totally awesome and cool. So if that wasn’t super clear to you, feel free to trade lanyards, or if you switch way back through, and you decide, “I kind of don’t want to be in pictures,” just switch. There’s wooden nickels that you were given. Those wooden nickels magically turn into beverages this evening. And there’s also non-alcoholic beverages people to use those nickels for. My hope is that at the end of this, after they’ve all been counted, get them back so you can take them home with you, if that’s something that seems you would like to have in your junk drawer. Bathrooms. They’re back there. There’s lots of signs. There’s two sets and they’re all sort of back there in that area. I’m not going to walk back there right now, but over there. Food. We want to keep you well fed and happy because we think that’s a big part of being able to really take part of this. So there was some breakfast food this morning. Everything is labeled as far as dietary restrictions go. The goal is you don’t have to ask, we wanted everything to be set out. So there’s going to be specific numbers of things that are going to be out for people who have specific allergies. So there’s going to be specific stuff that’s marked vegan, there’s going to be specific stuff that’s marked gluten free, just to make sure that people have what they need, please don’t take something that you, sort of, said you needed. That said, if you’ve missed sort of that question, or missed that process of giving us that information, please come talk to me or somebody at the registration desk and we’ll make it work and we will give you that list. Also, if you’re celebrating Ramadan, and this is the second year that SRCCON has occurred during Ramadan, we have special food for that, so come see and talk to us about that as well. Tonight we’re having family dinner and we would like to thank Mandrill for serving that dinner. Ryan talked to the things that are going on at the same time so I’m going to get into that right now. And then the Coffee & Tea Hack Station is back in that hallway. That lovely gentleman, he’s a coffee pro, that guy. He’s a lovely, lovely human being. And he also brought coffee makers called manual coffee makers. So you should check out that. The whole idea there is learn how to, sort of, make your own coffee. And we have a lot of apparati—apparatuses for doing just that. Also if you’re in a hurry and you just want coffee that’s hot and wet, they’re up in the back over there. So you don’t have to wait to, like, grind your own coffee. So let’s see… on that same note… the cups that we have back there for the coffee station are compostable so please put them in the correct bin for that.
Also, I gotta jump back really quick. On the food, this is the second year in a row we’ve been able to do this. But all the food that’s left over is going to be donated by the venue so that’s something that’s very important to us and we’re really excited to be able to do that again. That kind of covers it for me and I’m going to bring Mr. Dan Sinker back up one more time. Thank you.
[ Applause ]
Dan Sinker: Thanks, everyone. I have a lengthy list of additional things that I have to tell you—I don’t really. Thanks, everyone for being here. You know, there’s a lot of logistics to go over but we do that at the start so you don’t have to really think about that stuff any more. So, you know, we’re trying to make it as possible as we can to make the next two days be focused on you and on the things that you can share with each other. The things that you bring today and the things that you leave with in a couple of days are the things that we want to really be able to focus on.
So you’ve just met all of us. Last year we went around the room and had the room introduce themselves. There are a few too many of you this year. But what we do want to do is very quickly introduce yourselves to the people next to you at the table. So go ahead and do that. If you’re at a table yourself, you there, you can just turn around and say hello to in the people behind you.
[ Introductions ]
All right. I’m going to refocus it back up here for just a second. The beauty is that there are ample opportunities to continue these conversations throughout the rest of the two days. As Erin said, we’ll all be sitting down at lunch. Though it’s going to be boxed and I would encourage visiting outside or taking part in a lunch session. We’ll all be sitting down again for dinner. There’ll be breakfast again in the morning tomorrow and lunch again. And one thing that I would ask: Some of you managed to beat the system and get a number of colleagues into SRCCON as well, and good for you for doing it. But don’t just sit with your colleagues. You know, really do make sure that over the next couple of days that you’re placing yourselves at tables with people that you don’t know so that you leave knowing them.
You know, I started saying that people were the most important part of SRCCON and I will end saying that same thing, too, you know? This is why we do the work we do. We want to help people. We wanna help people understand the world around them. You know, we wanna make things that are difficult to comprehend a little bit easier and we only do it because of each other. You know, we only are able to do it because all the rest of us are doing it as well. So really do appreciate the people here. Share as much as you can. Have a great time. Have good fun tonight and get a lot of work done over the next couple of days and sessions will start in 20 minutes. So there’s still time to grab little more coffee, a little more food, and visit. But thanks y’all, and such a great SRCCON!
[ Applause ]