This inaugural IAC podcast provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the information architecture conference and explores why you should attend this year’s conference! David Dylan Thomas, author and speaker, interviews the co-chairs of the conference: Grace Lau, Claire Morville, Teresa Nguyen, and Cassini Nazir.
For more than 20 years, the IA conference has been the preeminent event for practitioners and academics who confront the systemic challenge of creating and managing digital user interfaces and rich information environments.
This year’s IAC will be April 28-30 and the theme is Emergence. Stick around—we have a discount code to get $25 off the IAC21 main conference pass!
Listen on the following platforms:
David Dylan Thomas: Welcome to the very first IAC podcast! I’m your host David Dylan Thomas. I wrote a book called Design for Cognitive Bias and I will be speaking at this year’s IAC. For those of you who don’t know what IAC stands, for it’s the information architecture conference.
IAC’s been going on for more than 20 years and it’s the place to go for practitioners and academics who are dealing with the challenge of creating and managing digital user interfaces and information environments.
So this year, the IAC is going to be April 28-30th and the theme is Emergence. I’m here with the four co-chairs of IAC21 and we’re going to talk a little bit about behind the scenes of this year’s conference and why you should go.
If you stick around, you will hear the magic words–the discount code–that’s going to give you $25 off the main conference. Our co-chairs are gonna be talking to you today are Grace Lau, Claire Morville, Theresa Nguyen, and Cassini Nazir. So to start off I’m just going to have them all, introduce themselves so let’s start with Grace.
Grace: Hi everyone! This is Grace. I’m one of the co-chairs for the conference. I’m also co-president for World IA Day. I am involved with the conference in the community because it’s been really helpful for me in the past 15 years. When I first started lots of great mentors and guidance along the way. And this is a really great vibrant community to be a part of.
David: Thank you. Claire tell us a little about yourself.
Claire: Hi I’m Claire Morville. I am the first ever student co-chair of this conference. I’m a senior at the University of Maryland studying Information Science. In the fall of 2019 I got involved because I went to the DC UX conference and volunteered there. I talked with Vanessa Foss, the organizer and, while I was there, I noticed that there weren’t any other people who were my age and I thought that was kind of disappointing because I made so many connections and it was such a wonderful learning experience for me, and so, while I was there I talked with her and said, you know I think this would be something that would be really beneficial for more students to be involved in. Would you consider having a co-chair for the IA conference? Because I knew that was the next one coming up, and she said she would think about it and I guess in the next spring I was announced as the first student co-chair. It’s been a great experience.
David: Congratulations! Baltimore, represent! My sister went to UMD. Are you out of College Park?
Claire: Yeah I’m out of College Park.
David: Nice. Congrats. Teresa, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Teresa: Hey all, I’m Teresa Nguyen. I am a user experience researcher. I work for a consultancy in Dallas, TX called projekt 202. I’ve got a background in journalism. The skills, I found, surprisingly transferred over really, really well for user centered design and research and interviewing people. I got into the information architecture conference in the community, through Adam Polansky. He brought me in as a stage manager a few years back in 2019, which was the last time we were all in person.
Hopefully again next year someday we’ll be doing this again but it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be able to launch here within this community, and to be involved in just to get to know so many great people you know, like co-chairs and all the speakers and everyone else that’s involved.
David: Very cool and I gotta say as an ex-journalist, I agree, it can compare it can prepare you well for information architecture, because organizing information is one of the key tasks of a journalist or a newspaper editor. Thank you and Cassini tell us about yourself.
Cassini: My name is Cassini Nazir. I’m one of the co-chairs. What got me into the community, I guess, many years ago, when I was in grad school, I remember reading Richard Wurman’s Information Architects book and just thinking: Wow! That’s a cool co-location of those two words. And it would be a couple of years later, before I read the polar bear book, which was just eye opening.
But I didn’t end up attending IAC until 2018, when one of my grad students was presenting a poster. And I’ve been back every year since, whether in person or online. It’s been a great community to be involved in. I feel very lucky to be a co-chair. And we’ve got some great things coming up.
David: Just to be 100% clear this year’s IAC is online, we are, we are not quite ready yet to meet in person, again, hopefully next year.
I want to talk a bit about the theme of emergence and what we mean by it and how we arrived at it. Teresa, you want to start off with that?
Teresa: Sure. You know 2020 feels like 10 years ago, but so much is happening. So much is happening, even in 2021. When we talk about the theme of emergence, it’s almost like we have to touch on everything that happened in 2020. This was maybe like April or June or so, when we were thinking about the same.
At that point we didn’t even know whether this was going to be in person, virtual, or hybrid. We thought it was going to be hybrid. We had our hopes. That was just one of the many, many decisions that had to emerge in the process of planning all of these things. I’ve been so humbled by just how much it takes to plan something as huge as this conference, given the program and the people involved.
Emergence encompasses a lot of different themes and I can speak to my perspective. What I really love about this theme is that one of the ideas that we brought in was the social change ecosystem. It was created by Deepa Iyer, we mentioned on the website, if you want to check it out more we can throw a link in the show notes. In 2020, with all the protests that were happening here in the United States—I don’t know how many people in our community have gone to protest probably quite a number—it really made me think about how many different roles, there are, in any kind of social change, whether it is a civil rights movement, or anything that you want to change as a society and, as a community of any kind.
There are always ways that we can challenge the status quo, that we can make things better what we can include more people to change the way that we do things. But I thought this was a great framework, because it really emphasizes that everybody has a different role, depending on what you bring to the table, how what you’re given experiences are, and what your skills are.
I can talk about some of the roles. I wish you had a graphic up but there’s different ways to change and create social change. In any kind of ecosystem, you’ve got disruptors, visionaries, builders, healers, artists, storytellers, bridge builders, caregivers, frontline responders. Most people probably fit several of those roles.
So, I love that because the way that information comes together is much the same way there’s different ways that we can label things.
Sometimes you can create new labels for things, but it really just helps to curate the program as well, and before I get into that I want to kind of give all the other co-chairs a chance to speak on the theme, I think it means something a little bit different to each of us.
Claire: My thoughts on this theme was really kind of coming back to phoenix rising from the ashes. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people felt like 2020 was very difficult.
To say the least, and really thinking about what the possibilities were for 2021 and what we wanted this conference to be and having everyone come back together and rise from the ashes that’s where I was coming from with this thing.
Cassini: And I’ll just add to what’s been said, I think emergence—Teresa, you laid it out was spot on—2020 was really tough, glad 2021 was around the corner! Thinking about emergence… on the front end you don’t understand what is happening, and what comes out of it, but on the back end once it actually does end, it seems obvious and you wonder why did we see that, on the other side of it? And I’m hoping that some of the changes that we are trying to help the community to bring about.
If it was obvious, why didn’t we do these things earlier? Why weren’t we more inclusive earlier? Why didn’t we ask some of these questions earlier? It’s a really profound theme that we have.
Grace: And just adding just a little bit more to it. 2020 was seeing things very clearly where we’re all the different cracks in the system and being able to ask all those questions around what exactly happened, why did it happen? Opening the year afterwards, like this year would be when we can actually, you know, address some of those changes and see you know what emerges from the ashes as Claire mentioned.
David: Teresa. you want to say more about what you said you might want to go into more detail.
Teresa: Yes, so when we were thinking about the Program.
You know there’s a number of ways for a conference to come together. I know that some conferences will have the call for submissions. Perhaps if it’s an academic conference, which is what the IAC conference summit has its roots in, people submit papers, they get reviewed, they get scored and things like that, and then you create your Conference. I had a number of folks tell me that you know, this year we want to create a lot of change and really if it if I really wanted to, or if we really wanted to as a coach our team we couldn’t just go out and just pick people that we wanted.
And I know I thought about that and thought you know, maybe that would be a good idea, but it was important to me, to the curation team that we did involve the community. And because I think that we have to, we should move together, move forward together and learn together as a community of practice and so. The way that we wanted to sort of weave that into this social change ecosystem framework was to incorporate those different roles into the submissions.
So, if you were to submit a talk, you would select one or two roles that really apply to your talk and how you think that they contribute to the conversation of information architecture is a community of practice so that found that really useful, and it was in and even a whole a whole different way of curating the coffee sort of emerged from the way we’re doing in 2021 so really excited about the Program.
David: Just out of curiosity, did you find that any role people gravitated towards identifying themselves than others?
Teresa: Well, I love to see the disrupter ones—I was kind of partial to that, but that’s why we have more than one person making these. Visionary was a pretty common one, I want to say, the one is a bridge builder might have been the most common, which totally makes sense for a bunch of information architects.
David: that’s really cool. So Claire you mentioned before, that you are the very first student coach or, can you tell us a little bit of what that’s been like.
Claire: Yeah, so it was super exciting that I got this chance. It’s definitely been a bit of a roller coaster. Definitely had some feelings of not really fitting in because I’m so young and because of who my dad is I worried that people would see me in a bit of a negative light.
And so, that was a little difficult to overcome within myself and then pretty early on in the planning process, I was on a phone call with someone—not an IAC related meeting—but within the community. It came up that someone said, “Oh yeah, students make very eager slaves for conferences.” That was pretty disappointing to hear, because not only using slaves and that kind of context was really disappointing but also just seeing students, as someone who does the grunt work instead of being people who can contribute was pretty sad to see um, and so I kind of tried to use that as something that I could turn positive within myself and that’s how I went out and started looking for students who could be keynote speakers, and that was where I wanted to put that.
We have Rebekah Bruesehoff as our opening keynote. She is a 14-year old transgender activist, and I think really using the labels and classifications that come with it a is a great opportunity to have her speak about how IA impacts her life, and what that’s like. And so that’s been really, really incredible. I’ve actually loved the opportunity. My co-chairs have been amazing.
The last thing I wanted to touch on is as much as this has been a great learning opportunity for me, it was brought up pretty recently that someone said, “Oh wow, you’ve been just as much of a co-chair, as all the other ones.”
I kind of reflected on that and said wow I should probably write my meet the co-chairs blog post and really use that as actually this position wasn’t really designed to be a learning position, it was designed to be a teaching one. Because I have a lot to offer, even though I’m just about to enter the workforce that doesn’t mean that I don’t have things to share or contribute. So that’s kind of the thing I really want to point out, because even though I might be so early on in the career work world I’ve actually got 17 years of experience being a student, I know what we are looking for in a conference I know what kind of funds, we have to put towards extracurricular activities or conference activities.
And so I think that students in this kind of position are able to bring some insight that wasn’t there before. So hopefully my co-chairs feel the same way, but I’ve been really excited to contribute, hopefully, as an equal and really make this conference, better.
David: First off, it is horrible what was said to you. I’m sorry that happened. I 100% agree, frankly, there is definitely this really interesting opportunity for IA in social justice to acknowledge the role it has played—usually a negative one—and the role that it could play which can be hugely positive.
One of the advantages of going to a different demographic for your co-chairs right is that there are a group of people younger people who have a different lived experience right and are coming into the world with different norms and different things that they are able to take for granted that we don’t write and perspectives right that I think it’s I’m always a big fan of bringing perspectives that haven’t been there, but I think that kids, in particular, especially around social justice right.
I think there’s a lot of value and sort of bringing folks who have a I won’t say, less baggage, but different baggage, than the somewhat older.
Claire: Completely agree, I think it’s been really exciting my favorite part about being the student co-chairs, that I kind of bring that excitement of things that I have seen and things that I think could happen and really talking about I’ve mentioned a number of times oh wow be so cool to include these kinds of perspectives using IA in the criminal justice system using.
If you’re helping out with transgender identity those types of I mean maybe placing I on climate change what. Getting people who really do organization and structures and hierarchies really well I think could be so exciting and inspiring and that’s I mean it’s so amazing I have high hopes for the AI community. You bring up a good point budgets, which are the outcome of policy are driven by IA.
And they make a huge difference, so thank you for bringing that up.
David: I wanted to talk to each of you now about which talks like they’re all great talks. We love all of our children, equally, but what ones that really kind of sparked your eyes, like Oh, I really can’t wait to see that talk so I’ll start with grace like what kind of talks and workshops are you really anticipating.
Grace: For me it would have to be the fireside chat though we’re planning on day two with Safiya Noble and Sarah Roberts. That one I’m really excited about that they’re both from UCLA which is my Alma mater and I’m excited because, like all four of us can’t wait to chat with them off onstage with what went into it same time I’m also looking forward to Claire Rock and Sam Raddatz “Words that make us feel annoyed and frustrated.” I’m really curious what that one is going to be about.
David: Thanks Cassini how about you?
Cassini: I’m really excited by Dan Brown’s talk. I was just looking it up to make sure that I.
got it right title… The art and science of asking questions. That really resonates with me and the kind of work that I’m doing around curiosity and trying to get people to be more curious themselves or help people to think more curiously. So I’m very much excited about that.
There’s a really interesting talk from Erin Malone, she’s the Chair of the Interaction Design program at California College of the Arts, and it’s about Deconstructing Online Hate. She’s looking at the Anti-Defamation League.
And going back to what Claire just mentioned about how IA connects to the social causes, I’m very excited about that talk and Erin has some deep experience in that too.
David: Cool. Teresa tell me what you’re looking forward to.
Teresa: We had so many freaking good talks, it was so hard.
So out of the keynotes I’m really excited about Changa Higgins, he’s a little bit of a mystery right now, but to give you a preview he brings design thinking and human- and community-centered design into community organizing. He’s here in Dallas and he’s been an activist for 10 plus years. He’s also worked in corporate user experience design strategy. I met him doing some work around the Police Oversight Board here in Dallas.
The first time I met him he gave an ideation workshop around just bringing in community members and thinking of them as users and the different ways that we can create change. The way that he just so naturally put what we do for a living into things that have such a direct and profound impact on society and in the local community has been really inspiring to see. He’s going to have an amazing talk. He’s got a lot of energy and he says he’s great.
The regular session I think I’m perhaps most looking forward to is Anita Cheng’s talk called How Information Architecture Can Save the World. I can’t wait to hear what her experiences have been like you know doing that work in San Francisco and to quote her description here: “by bringing clarity and trust into the equation I helped save tens of thousands of lives. What more can IA do if we allow it to flourish out in the wider world?” So those are my picks.
David: Claire what are you looking forward to?
Claire: Now I know I’m super biased because I brought her in. But I’m really looking forward to Rebekah’s keynote. It’s so inspiring to see someone 14 years old, who is going through school and field hockey practice, and also an incredible activist going and lobbying different legal departments about transgender rights is just so incredible. I don’t know what I was doing it 14 but knowing how nervous I was for one of my talks with my dad like it’s gonna be so incredible! I can’t believe that she’s doing that.
But I’m also really excited for the imposter syndrome workshop I know we kind of all argued about who would get to moderate that one because I think a lot of people have felt that way at some point. Feeling like they don’t really belong in the group. And, especially being the student co chair, working with some incredible people who have been in the community, for a long time, I definitely understand that feeling so I’m excited about that one too.
David: I’m really excited about Rebekah’s talk. Grace?
Grace: So I would have to say that I had the advantage and disadvantage of being laid off right before it all hit. Right, so I have all the time in the world. But I think the one of the biggest challenges to plan was making sure that everyone felt supported.
Because this is not just the end product, which is a conference—like the whole planning of the conference takes a whole year! It takes nine months to make a baby right, so it takes nine months at least to make a conference. From planning how to get people together and also over time, people get jobs—which is great. People who lost jobs, which is not so great right and helping them through that process as a community to support them. Yes, we are putting together a conference, but at the same time, we are being able to be there for each other along the way.
And then at the same time it’s not like oh you’re just a volunteer for a conference. There’s also things that you can do as part of the conference that can also contribute to your portfolio or contribute to your resume and your being part of the community.
Other things I would say about the conferences like being able to have a better control over noise. Because there’s so much that you’re dealing with you’re dealing with homeschooling or teaching or just family and people, in your life going through COVID just not being able to deal with health crises and anxieties generally has also been a very big concern.
So, like when actually planning the conference itself it’s like, how can we make it easy for people to like come in and out and not feel like dropping the bar anything because there’s no dropping a ball, this is like, how can we do this together.
You can like disappear for a month or two and come back and you’ll still be welcome right because it’s like it’s not like your job to get fired from it. He’s like you can like disconnect and just figure yourself out and come back, we contribute. So I think it was just that was the biggest focus I had in terms of like planning a conference and getting people together.
David: It sounds like there’s a certain degree of grace that’s required, which should be I think always present you know in planning these things, but it was especially needed in bright and these particular circumstances.
Grace: yeah we had it, I mean that that we had to deal with, but then during this time, we had the elections, which was anxiety and itself right, and then we have the civil unrest.
We had to cover the vaccines so anything for things but as we’re going through all that stuff that’s going on domestically.
Like how do I help, how can we help you know volunteers.
be up to date.
know what to do right and manage a project that is all about remote collaboration.
David: So, while we’re talking about the planning process, one of the key decisions you end up having to make is which platform you’re going to use, because those of us have like been to you know, several conferences last year know there are about 700 different online platforms for conferences. And we’ve all had various degrees of you know difficulty or pleasure with them. So how did you go about making that decision?
Grace: So I’ll just talk about the messaging platform first. Because that was something we had I had decided early on that we were going to use this card over slack and that was more of a logistical thing it’s easier for us to control Low Level noise and also a controlling of user management within the platform itself there’s a talk later on the first week of April that talks about discord in the user experience that we created you for the conference.
And it’s a free talk, but Discord is what we’re using for the back channel communications for anyone who’s like not going to be able to join the live action or live during the daytime conference part of things the planning or choosing of the Platform itself.
We wanted to really make sure that, even though it’s online and virtual they’re still have higher level engagement activity interactivity that we can plan for people to join so Teresa cured went through a lot of like figure out the requirements for this how people Chad how people joining tables or art or topics so I’m sure to use it can have lots to cheer about the considerations that we have for it.
Teresa: Yeah so as good practitioners, we started off with a little bit of research.
We sent out a survey. I know that’s not everyone’s favorite method, but short of being able to interview lots and lots of people, volunteer your time instead of a survey to do our best to get a feel of what people could tolerate just sitting in front of a computer all day. So much credit goes to the IAC20 co-chairs for pivoting the entire conference with all of the talks without really losing much content. And all from three tracks in person to three tracks online.
We learned a lot from that. A lot of the feedback we got was around cutting down the number of tools for sure, so we had to find a way to not have the exact same conference, but have a lot of the things that people know and love about IAC and how do we, how do we bring that online? To give everybody who’s experiencing this pandemic a little bit differently, a good experience all around so whether you can only spend like one or two hours a day online.
How do we structure the content to allow for that, but if you’re somebody who wants to come on like 6 to 8 hours a day you got PTO for the whole week and you want to engage as much as you can there’s options for that too.
So we went through a pretty rigorous selection process of different platforms. There’s certainly no perfect platform out there. Virtual reality is obviously not quite there yet and accessible and great for everybody. Maybe in a few years but we went with the platform called Remo, which sort of mimics the mental model of like a hotel building with floors and tables and chairs.
It allows you to just kind of move around pretty freely in and try to recreate some of those hallway conversations as well. As soon as you know, you can and just to kind of get a preview of things we’re going to be having plenty of opportunities for tech checks in different ways to kind of check out the platform ahead of time. The other thing was having to onboard a lot of people into something new that was online in handling finance and accounting links to visit.
We have a lot of volunteers, put a lot of work into this and I’m really thankful for that.
Grace: Another consideration that we made in terms of evaluating event platforms was accessibility, like what which things had a lot of accountability for like say closed captioning or keyboard navigation, or are we able to use discord and remote in ways that are more just easier to use in general and doesn’t add a lot of noise additional noise. Because like Teresa said, people are going to be standing or sitting in front of a computer all day long, we need to enable people to like join when they want to pick up where they left off. And be part of the conference and the environment experience at different times of the day, different type areas of the world. Those are some of the things that we kept in mind as we went along.
David: And you bring up a really good point about the challenges of virtual events in terms of onboarding like and a real event, no one needs to be onboarded into this is how a hotel lobby works, this is how an elevator works.
This is what it means when we say this talk is going on in this room, whereas in the virtual space every platform has its own metaphor for that, and when they say this is going on in this room, like what does that mean. You have to teach people that so you get this whole other level of education that you don’t have to deal with when it’s just oh go to the hotel and you’ll figure it out.
Grace: I mean at every conference there’s always a bunch of IAs standing in front of the elevators trying to figure out that whole experience. How you arrived at the airport, I was talking about public transportation. That is definitely going to happen at the IA conference.
David: That, that is true yeah there’s a certain unique chance, a certain unique level of criticism you might get that you wouldn’t get like a dentist conference.
David: I want to talk about Kathy Sierra right who does not do a ton of speaking at conferences, these days, and I want to get a little bit into how that happened. She’s going to be speaking the IAC. Claire tell us a little bit about how that happened.
Claire: So, my dad was actually the one who recommended her, when we put out requests for potential keynote speakers. When we all decided that she was a good choice and we’d be really interested in seeing if she would be willing to do it, we know she hasn’t spoken for many, many years. I talked with my dad and kind of tried to figure out if he could get in touch with her how that would work.
He messaged her on a couple of different platforms and tried emails to no avail—I mean it took a number of weeks to even figure out if she was online at all! Finally I tracked down a social media platform that she is still currently using and I just messaged her directly and said, “Hey! The co-chairs are really hoping to stretch the boundaries of IA and hear from new voices and new perspectives.”
And I said, “Even though you’re not necessarily a new voice, her story of leaving behind the tech world and going on this new journey, it could be really inspiring and powerful. Also it’s pretty important to recognize that not all the stories of being in the tech world are bright and happy and tied up with a nice bow.”
She’s really managed to find her way and do what she’s passionate about, and so I said, “I hope that you can talk about both aspects of your past and what you’re doing now, and how they all relate to it—in any of this teaching motivational strategies things like that.” So I don’t want to give too much away or compromise her identity in any way, so I won’t say too much more until she’s actually with us at the conference, but I’m very excited about it.
David: So Cassini tell us about some of the new things that are happening this year at IAC that we haven’t really, really seen before.
Cassini: There’s a bunch and I want to go back to something that Claire mentioned just a minute ago with Rebecca. Rebecca is 14 years old, I want to point that out again, our first 14 year old, our first teenage speaker.
Who’s a keynote in the conference, who was a marvel hero.
Who was also a gap model. Who was a top 20 finalist for Time and Nickelodeon’s Kid of the Year. I mean that’s just amazing.
I think back to what I was doing when I was 14. I was probably you know picking my nose and you know wasting my time.
But it’s amazing I think having that level of speaker to kick off the conference gives me hope about the future that we’re walking into and future generations.
First, time to have a peaker who’s a teenager, I think that’s awesome. We also have a lot of first time speakers to IAC as well and I’m really excited about that. One of the ones that I’m very excited about is Sara Rosenbaum and Madeline Packard who are talking about imposter syndrome.
You know they do it with humility, they do it with grace and they do it in a way that anyone can identify, I think, regardless of what level, you are.
There’s going to be some great stuff there. Grace also mentioned some of the new platforms, iscord and Remo.
And everything in between. Not only if you attend the conference, not only will you get to bump into some new tools that you may not have used before, but you’ll have fun doing it as well.
I know it’s the second year and will be online, but, unlike last year, we pivoted very quickly and didn’t have much time to be able to plan an online conference, but did so amazingly.
We have the luxury of being able to plan it a year out, so it is obviously the second year, that is going to be online, but we’ve had some more time, which also means that we’re recording the talks, the talks will be recorded and will be adding to the repository of talks that we have.
I love that it’s the first time, and not the last time we’re going to have a student co-chair.
And, I think that there are very few conferences that do this and take it seriously oftentimes. You know as Claire was mentioning when a student is.
Is if a conference has this it’s sort of a a cursory.
title and Claire is just as much a coach here as everyone else and we’ve worked hard to make sure that’s the case. And then the last one of the new things, I think, for this year’s conference is we’re going to have folks sketching out all of the talks, whether it’s talks or keynotes and so we’re going to try something new at this year’s conference and have a ook available of all of the sketch notes talk so that you can, if you want to, flip through IAC21 as a book. So, these are some cool things that we have planned.
For IAC 21.
David: That sounds super cool. I always appreciate the sort of physical real roles that people have tried to innovate on during that age of virtual everything being virtual I think that’s really cool.
David: So Cassin every conference at this scale needs sponsors. Tell us a little about this, your sponsors.
Cassini:WEe’re very fortunate to have quite a few sponsors at a variety of different levels. Huge shout out to our Platinum sponsors Optimal Workshop, who have a free workshop coming up right around the corner they’re out in New Zealand. I can hear them saying Kia Ora to us.
And Verizon who are also platinum sponsors. We have silver sponsors: Adobe, Balsamiq and EnjoyHQwho’ve done a great deal behind the scenes to help us out. And then we have publishers: Rosenfeld Media, A Book Apart, who I think published your book…
David: … Yeah!
Cassini: … We have O’Reilly as well.
And then we have some fantastic Community Sponsors: Abby Covert has helped to. sponsor the conference. MURAL has helped us as well as Spark Consulting which is led by another conference presenter and somebody who has a wonderful podcast, Matt Arnold.
We have Three Cats Studios with Chiara Ogan who’s done a bunch of great work as a volunteer behind the scenes to actually make the remote space usable. Huge shout out to Chiara and her work for helping to set this up.
I will just add that we welcome other sponsors! We have spots open if anyone’s interested. so Get in contact with us.
David: Cool. And I want to give an opportunity to shout up the volunteers. Even in the virtual space, I know these things do not happen without volunteers.
Grace: Sure, so we have a huge Marketing Communications team who deal with the website, social media, Discord and newsletter and that would be Alesha Arp, Amy Silvers, Jessie Shakarian, Nathan Rogers, Alex Stapleton, Ken Caldwell, and MaShana Davis.
We have the Career Center led by Kyle Soucy and a First-Timer Orientation led by Noreen Whysel, she’s been part of the conference since the beginning when it started in 1999. Stacy Surla, a past chair, is doing poster night again. Of course, leading the Finance and Sponsorships team would be Sup Suh and Matt Arnold doing the fundraising for this year.
David: Great! Thanks to all the volunteers. We’re just about out of time, but I want to make sure y’all get a chance to weigh in on this one last question: what is one reason folks should absolutely attend, I see this year? So I will start with Claire, what do you think?
Claire: So, something that I really am excited about is, this is a year that we’re doing partnerships with schools. That’s been a lot of the things that I’ve been working on recently is getting schools to provide funding to send some of their students.
Right now the University of Maryland, University of Montreal, and Dominican University are some of our partners, as well as we’re working on a couple others um, so I think that’s like just something that’s really amazing that we’re doing this year. I think it’s also a great opportunity to network with people. I have networked with some people in this community and that’s how I’ve gotten my internship with the Federal Aviation Administration. So, especially for students attending it’s a great opportunity to talk with people who are so kind and welcoming and open helping students.
David: Awesome! Teresa, what would you say?
Teresa: This will sound really cliche for any conference but I’m most looking forward to the conversations. That speaks to the community that we have. I think this conference is unique to any other conference I’ve ever been to a professional conference. It’s a pretty intimate atmosphere, without being exclusive.
We’re welcoming the first timers. We’re always trying to do different things with that and that has a way of bringing people together and a really special way, especially after. A year and some months of such you know just craziness in everybody’s lives, I still remember IAC20 we went virtual the first time. that a lot of folks who have been going to this conference for a really long time got back together on a zoom call. It was powerful. It is powerful. I’m looking forward to seeing how people gather this year with a lot of new faces to a lot of students, a lot of different folks so excited about.
David: Cool, Cassini?
Cassini: We’ve got some great speakers. We’ve got great community. We’ve got great content. Tying into what Teresa said. It’s enjoyable. The hallway conversations of a live conference and and we’ve given that a lot of thought. I think the back channels of Discord to be able to have those hallway conversations at any time is actually really, really powerful.
We’ve flat we’ve tried to flatten out, as much as possible, the hierarchies between attendees and speakers. People are accessible. Content is accessible. It’s really powerful stuff.
David: That’s excellent. Grace?
Grace: I would say, the main thing I would look forward to is it’s really cheap.
David: There it is.
Grace: In a regular year and when the conference is in person, it’s like $800 or $900 to go. And you have to do a hotel airfare—especially if it’s out of town, but this year being virtual. It only costs, I don’t know $250 just to get a regular ticket. You get access to the talks afterwards, so all the recordings will get access to the backchannel, Discord.
And there’s even a discount code…
David: That brings us to the moment you’ve all been waiting for. If you want $25 off to make it even cheaper, you’re going to use the discount code weloveIAC. Use that when you are registering and you will get $25 off. So, I want to thank all of you for joining me today to talk about IAC. I for one am very excited I can’t wait to see you all there can’t wait to see everyone listening there. For the IAC podcast this is David Dylan Thomas saying I’m looking forward. Hope to see you at IAC this year.