So for those who don’t know, one of the things that I most like doing is helping people make their events happen. If you have ever had an event where you’ve thought – “I need to clone myself so that I have an extra resource who cares about my project as much as I do… and actually have the energy to do it” – well I’m that person! And so it was last weekend that my friend Murray pulled me onto a special project of his to work on a not-so-little event called PauseFest to help run the session that I was most looking forward to – the Storytelling Masterclass with producers Miki Meek and Brian Reed from This American Life, Tom Tilley of Triple J Hack and Oliver Millman of The Guardian.
What to wear when working at a conference:
First things first – find out if there is a uniform. Most of the conferences I’ve worked at provide a t-shirt for staff to wear with casual bottoms. Jeans or a smart pair of dark bottoms that you can move around in and potentially climb and crawl around in are handy but most importantly make sure that you have pockets that are deep enough for stuffing things that won’t get lost and comfy shoes for being on your feet all day. Breathable materials that you can sweat in cannot be underestimated, nor is good deodorant/antiperspirant. When working at conferences with guests who are from out-of-town, I make an extra effort of wearing a representation of local labels. Mild levels of dehydration are can be expected as you spend more time running around rather than necessarily hydrating so it helps to have a great lip balm on hand. And when in doubt for a conference – black is a good colour to wear behind-the-scenes.
What I wore at PauseFest 2015: Strateas Carlucci Top, Country Road skirt (it was 30+ degrees so no I didn’t wear jeans but this skirt has the requisite pockets!), Jane Heng earrings, Anna Varendorff brass necklace from a selection at Kuwaii, Lanolips 101 Ointment and Bared Footwear Penguin 2 shoes.
My PauseFest 2015 Takeaways
I managed to make it to a few of the sessions and here’s what I’ll be taking with me:
- One of my favourite sessions was “How digital copyright laws are killing Australian innovation”, a conversation between Trish Hepworth (Executive Officer, Australian Digital Alliance) and Jon Lawrence (Executive Officer of Electronic Frontiers Australia) and moderated by Kelsey Schwenk (Engagement Director, Studio Thick). Did you know that Google the search engine could not have been built in Australia due to our copyright laws which haven’t been updated since the 1960s? Also as Australian consumers using American-based services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – every link or image we share is a breach of Australian copyright. Just because it’s ok on these American services, doesn’t mean it’s ok according to our own laws – which is why they really need to be updated.
- Zoe Warne’s presentation “Making Data Beautiful” surprised me with the extent to which it did just that – creating compelling content that engages audiences, motivating them to take action to do things like save water or reconsider what they throw out.
- Richard Yuwono from GetUp walked us through the back-end of their systems. As an ex-IT auditor I found this session really insightful – that when you receive an email from GetUp, it’s Richard’s job to make sure that their site doesn’t crash when you and thousands of others who also received the email open the call-to-action link. It brought to mind a recent episode of ReplyAll where a systems administrator talked about how he made sure the Pages magazine site didn’t crash when it published those [WARNING! Do not open this link at work!] Kim Kardashian “break the internet” pics.
- The ABC’s Gina McKeon talked about how endlessly creative digital journalism can be- taking many formats from longform and shortform writing to animation to video – and demonstrated how it is an art in itself to get the right balance of utilising technology but also still keeping the focus on the story. She also left us with a note to check out theand.us which brings the viewer into the story.
- Miki Meek and Brian Reed from This American Life broke down an episode to show us the stylistic devices they used. I particularly liked how the radio format allows them to show moments of surprise – say in the journalist’s voice – something that you can’t do in other mediums like print.
- The Storytelling Masterclass highlighted the difference between telling a story and pitching a story. The former is just that whereas the latter needs to demonstrate an angle, feature interviews with relevant parties (who can be difficult to track down) and most importantly, ask questions that draw the listener in.
- Leigh Carmichael from MONA talked about squashing committees that really just get in the way of getting things done. He then used this video to encourage us to be the first follower.
Did you go to PauseFest 2015? What were your takeaways?