- To say it was the last minute when I was invited to cover #C2MTL as Editor-in-Chief of the Hot Mommas Project would be to overstate things a bit. For me, it was the last minute, as I was already committed to participate in two back to back wedding events at the end of May.However, the more I read about the conference, the more I knew I had to be there.
- In this article, the second of series about my experiences at #C2MTL, I want to talk about why I believe the conference worked, and touch on its (very) few failings. Like South by Southwest, it's one that I believe anyone who can afford it should go to at least once in their career in technology. I hope this will illustrate why, along with the video and images of the event.The round-up before this goes more into a behind the scenes mode, showing images before and after the doors opened, peppered with shots I got to take when I arrived a day early to pick up my badge. If you're more into visuals, that's the one to start with.The next few in the series will discuss what I learned in some of the sessions, then I'll end with keynote interviews and my candid photos
- C2MTL fills a void not often seriously discussed in the tech world, one that needs closer examination, the area where creativity and technology meet. I hadn't thought about it much before attending the event, but as more than one person pointed out while I was there, they are of equal need in the world of technology, and yet not equally valued.
- This idea is taken several steps further and in more directions at C2MTL. Fashion meets art meets technology meets film meets business meets music meets graffiti... if I tried to describe the entire event to you, I'd be going on for days.Actually I will be going on for days, if you care to dive in with me, this article is part of a series.But let's start by setting the scene in this one. I can't tell you how valuable this was to my experience. The intent of the conference, told by several of the organizers onsite, framed its entire unfolding in a way that helped me orient and immerse myself.
C2MTL: The Experience
- Three things made C2MTL work as well as it did.1- The Engagement2- The Education3- The Environment
Those three things added up to - and I swear I didn't plan this whole "E" thing- the Experience. C2MTL ended up being greater than the sum of its parts. When blended those three things, conceptually, made it more than what you'd think of as a conference.But it wasn't an Un-conference either - it in fact, contained an "unconference" in it, past a kind of plaza that was a cross between culinary delights, concert and a circus.I mean a literal circus - Cirque Du Soleil performed the first night. We shall come back to that.
- Even as I grow sick of the word "engagement" there just isn't a better word to describe the kind of overall "coming-together" that was baked in to everything from the way the traffic flowed through the venue, to the concierges on hand to assist the confused.And there isn't a better visual for that feeling than the giant sign that hung on the wall behind the entrance. "No man is an island" seemed like the motto in our little conference-village. You could certainly arrive alone but you arrived in an environment of togetherness.Except perhaps what I began to call "the clothes-on bubble bath".
- Yes. I was being literal. This was one of the areas near the Videotron, a short walk from the main stage, where speakers and attendees alike would jump into a tank of plastic bubbles and see where conversation would take them.
During my preview, I learned right away that one of the chief aims was to force participants to meet and network.None too difficult in a city like Montreal, where on this, my first visit, I was treated to a populace generally friendlier and more open than I was used to, people walking down the street singing to themselves, and folks who offered me their assistance before I ever thought to ask (I sometimes walk with a cane).
Of course, I met people from not just Canada, but from the United States and even a few from Europe. The organizers I met told me point blank that the people were at least as important to the experience as listening to the speakers.
- The speaker line up at C2MTL was overwhelming to say the least. A famous director. Top executives from Google, Absolut Vodka, and AT&T. CEOs from Zappos, Cirque Du Soleil. Authors, Innovators, Designers, a Museum curator -- even a Nobel Prize Laureate.
- Don't even get me started on the "Unconference" stage, dubbed The Garage, where you could have a beer and lunch with your mental nourishment. And learn about cool ideas like this one for a children's bed that has a light under it for the ongoing guarantee of monster-less-ness, complete with a certification.
- When you've been to as many conferences in as many industries as I have, the phrase "keynote speaker" doesn't exactly make you quiver with delight, or even anticipation.But this was one conference I did not spend in my own boredom fueled arrogance, thinking that I could teach half the sessions I was attending.
- Oh and between speakers? We were treated to scenes like this.
- This is what facilitated the success of every other element. It wasn't just creative and at times beautiful. It didn't just inspire creativity and beauty.The environment, framed C2MTL, subtly enriching the experience. It was just the right amount of awe, the way a painting's frame highlights a work of art.It's better if I show you instead of telling you.