As some of you might know, for the last 5 years I’ve been one of the organizers for a conferences called !!Con. This year it’s going to be held on May 11-12 in NYC.
The submission deadline is Sunday, March 3 and you can submit a talk here.
(we also expanded to the west coast this year: !!Con West is next week!! I’m not on the !!Con West team since I live on the east coast but they’re doing amazing work, I have a ticket, and I’m so excited for there to be more !!Con in the world)
!!Con is about the joy, excitement, and surprise of computing
Computers are AMAZING. You can make programs that seem like magic, computer science has all kind of fun and surprising tidbits, there are all kinds of ways to make really cool art with computers, the systems that we use every day (like DNS!) are often super fascinating, and sometimes our computers do REALLY STRANGE THINGS and it’s very fun to figure out why.
!!Con is about getting together for 2 days to share what we all love about computing. The only rule of !!Con talks is that the talk has to have an exclamation mark in the title :)
We originally considered calling !!Con ExclamationMarkCon but that was too unwieldy so we went with !!Con :).
!!Con is inclusive
The other big thing about !!Con is that we think computing should include everyone. To make !!Con a space where everyone can participate, we
- have open captioning for all talks (so that people who can’t hear well can read the text of the talk as it’s happening). This turns out to be great for LOTS of people – if you just weren’t paying attention for a second, you can look at the live transcript to see what you missed!
- pay our speakers & pay for speaker travel
- have a code of conduct (of course)
- use the RC social rules
- make sure our washrooms work for people of all genders
- let people specify on their badges if they don’t want photos taken of them
- do a lot of active outreach to make sure our set of speakers is diverse
past !!Con talks
I think maybe the easiest way to explain !!Con if you haven’t been is through the talk titles! Here are a few arbitrarily chosen talks from past !!Cons:
- Four Fake Filesystems!
- Islamic Geometry: Hankin’s Polygons in Contact Algorithm!!!
- Don’t know about you, but I’m feeling like SHA-2!: Checksumming with Taylor Swift
- MissingNo., my favourite Pokémon!
- Music! Programming! Arduino! (Or: Building Electronic Musical Interfaces to Create Awesome)
- How I Code and Use a Computer at 1,000 WPM!!
- The emoji that Killed Chrome!!
- We built a map to aggregate real-time flood data in under two days!
- PUSH THE BUTTON! 🔴 Designing a fun game where the only input is a BIG RED BUTTON! 🔴 !!!
- Serious programming with jq?! A practical and purely functional programming language!
- I wrote to a dead address in a deleted PDF and now I know where all the airplanes are!!
- Making Mushrooms Glow!
- HDR Photography in Microsoft Excel?!
- DHCP: IT’S MOSTLY YELLING!!
- Lossy text compression, for some reason?!
- Plants are Recursive!!: Using L-Systems to Generate Realistic Weeds
If you want to see more (or get an idea of what !!Con talk descriptions usually look like), here’s every past year of the conference:
- 2018: talk descriptions and recordings
- 2017: talk descriptions and recordings
- 2016: talk descriptions and recordings
- 2015: talk descriptions and recordings
- 2014: talk descriptions and recordings
this year you can also submit a play / song / performance!
One difference from previous !!Cons is that if you want submit a non-talk-talk to !!Con this year (like a play!), you can! I’m very excited to see what people come up with. For more of that see Expanding the !!Con aesthetic.
all talks are reviewed anonymously
One big choice that we’ve made is to review all talks anonymously. This means that we’ll review your talk the same way whether you’ve never given a talk before or if you’re an internationally recognized public speaker. I love this because many of our best talks are from first time speakers or people who I’d never heard of before, and I think anonymous review makes it easier to find great people who aren’t well known.
writing a good outline is important
We can’t rely on someone’s reputation to determine if they’ll give a good talk, but we do need a way to see that people have a plan for how to present their material in an engaging way. So we ask everyone to give a somewhat detailed outline explaining how they’ll spend their 10 minutes. Some people do it minute-by-minute and some people just say “I’ll explain X, then Y, then Z, then W”.
Lindsey Kuper wrote some good advice about writing a clear !!Con outline here which has some examples of really good outlines which you can see here.
We’re looking for sponsors
!!Con is pay-what-you-can (if you can’t afford a $300 conference ticket, we’re the conference for you!). Because of that, we rely on our incredible sponsors (companies who want to build an inclusive future for tech with us!) to help make up the difference so that we can pay our speakers for their amazing work, pay for speaker travel, have open captioning, and everything else that makes !!Con the amazing conference it is.
hope to see you there ❤
I’ve met so many fantastic people through !!Con, and it brings me a lot of joy every year. The thing that makes !!Con great is all the amazing people who come to share what they’re excited about every year, and I hope you’ll be one of them.