Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

Tummeling via hacked conference badges

Thu, 12/29/2011 - 13:02 -- rprice

We will be hosting our 4th annual Florida DrupalCamp on February 11th and 12th in the coming year. For the first few years of the unconference, I was in charge of printing out the name badges for attendees. We started out using EventBrite because it was dead simple, but we switched to a Drupal-based Conference Organizing Distribution site last year. At a DrupalCamp (or just about any conference) there are always people looking to hire developers, and developers looking for work. The third category of attendees are those who are new to Drupal, and inevitably have questions. The problem with most attendees of these conferences is that they don't go to monthly meetups, so they aren't acquainted with who else is new, and who is a veteran. In my constant effort to get people talking, I tried hacking our DrupalCamp badges by getting some colored garage-sale stickers and printing "Ask Me", "Hire Me", "I'm Hiring" on them.

    

"Ask Me" was a popular badge hack among red-shirted volunteers.

It's pretty challenging to collect hard metrics on any social hack, but the reactions from people at the registration table were pretty positive. Since then, South Florida DrupalCamp employed a similar technique, and I have told a few other DrupalCamp organizers the idea. They all love the concept, and I hope they can encourage people to participate and spread this meme.

This year when we were planning the badges, we decided to go for something bigger and better, and I saw this as the opportunity to take the badge hacks to the next level as well. Instead of stickers, why not give everyone the tools, making it that much easier to participate? Our designer, Erik Baldwin (flash warning), pointed me to the Noun Project, which may have been the final straw at the stack of this heap. Now instead of words or colors to decipher, we have professionally designed icons (in SVG format, no less). I picked out three I thought fit the scenario and posted them back to our OpenAtrium message board. Erik incorporated the icons into his next round of revisions, and the result you see below:

My idea is to have highlighters available at the registration table, to encourage people to highlight the icon releavant to them. Your choices are:

  1. Ask Me
  2. Hire Me
  3. I'm Hiring

Curious what the effects of this are? If nothing else, it's a conversation starter: "Why did they put these icons on my badge?" "Do you know what they're for?"

I know the job seekers and hiring managers will be making the most use of them, if past experience tells me anything. We've identified the long-term effects on an attendees career as part of our mission for DrupalCamp and our Coding for a Cause event, and this is one way I'm trying to support that mission.

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