Frequently asked questions
What’s all this, then?
!!Con (pronounced “bang bang con”) is a two-day conference of ten-minute talks about the joy, excitement, and surprise of computing that’s been held annually in New York since 2014. Due to massive demand, in 2019 we’re expanding !!Con to the west coast of the US! !!Con West will be held in Santa Cruz, California, on the campus of UC Santa Cruz, on February 23-24, 2019.
Why are you bringing !!Con to the west coast?
In our five years of organizing !!Con, we’ve learned that there’s a huge amount of demand for what we’re doing. This is a great problem to have, but it means that we’re constantly having to disappoint people. There’s only so much that our small team of volunteers can do.
The long-term solution to our inability to meet demand is for there to be a lot more conferences inspired by !!Con, in a lot more places, organized by a lot more people. A new generation of conference organizers will need to step up. In fact, that’s already happening – EnthusiastiCon, Hello, Con!, and StarCon are three examples of !!Con-inspired, independently organized events.
But the existence of all these great conferences hasn’t taken the pressure off !!Con. If anything, the demand for !!Con has only increased as more and more people experience the magic and fun of this conference format. In 2018, for instance, !!Con got nearly 300 talk proposals for only thirty talk slots. It’s clear that we need to expand, not only to better serve our existing audience, but also to better serve those who can’t easily travel to New York for the weekend.
How big an event will this be?
!!Con West, like the original !!Con, will be a two-day, single-track conference. We anticipate around 200 attendees, including around thirty speakers.
How will !!Con West be different from the original !!Con?
The west-coast version of !!Con will necessarily be different from the east-coast version in certain ways. For starters, the !!Con West venue is very different from the middle of Manhattan or Brooklyn, where all the previous !!Cons have been held, and this will have a big impact on the conference experience. We can’t expect attendees to be able to easily get to our venue on public transit, nor is it likely that attendees will be able to wander out to restaurants for lunch and be back in time for the afternoon talks. On the other hand, it’s very likely that attendees will be able to walk out of the building and three minutes later be strolling through a beautiful redwood forest.
We should be willing to try doing things differently from the original !!Con when it seems like the right approach. We want to retain the important aspects of the original !!Con’s aesthetic, while enthusiastically embracing the physical and social geography of the west coast, Santa Cruz, and UC Santa Cruz.
Who’s organizing it?
!!Con West is being organized by a new team of volunteers, with help from a couple veteran !!Con organizers. We have two goals for !!Con West. First, of course, we want to put on another great conference in the !!Con tradition. Second, we want to incubate a new generation of conference organizers. By the time we’re done, every member of the !!Con West organizing team will have the skills and experience to go out and launch their own conferences, if they want to.
What is UC Santa Cruz’s involvement in !!Con West?
The Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz has committed to financial and logistical sponsorship of !!Con West, and a couple members of the organizing team have a UCSC affiliation.