The Vermont 3.0 Innovation Jam — or "the tech jam," as everyone calls it — drew a ton of people to the Sheraton on Monday. I was inside from 7 a.m. until almost 7 p.m., so I didn't see the parking lot, but I heard it was packed. Seven Days was a sponsor, and an organizer of the event, along with the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont Software Developers' Alliance, the Vermont Departments of Labor and Economic Development, and Comcast.
I took a bunch of blurry photos with my iPhone, including this one, of the dancing firefly from VEIC. He's got a CFL bulb for a tail, and he's shakin' it in this photo. I don't know if it's a he, actually. Maybe there's a woman in there. Who knows.
Highlights of the day, in case you missed it:
- The students. Dozens upon dozens of middle and high school students showed up toward the early end of the day. I saw at least one school bus parked outside. The Department of Labor talked up the event at Vermont schools — it was a chance for students to get a look at Vermont companies doing innovative work. Hopefully it will inspire some of them to study science and math, and learn about computers, and how they work, how to program them, etc. We saw kids from St. Johnsbury, Vergennes, Williamstown, St. Albans, South Burlington and a group from CVU. There were a bunch of kids from St. Albans interviewing people with Flip cams. That was neat. A few people commented that it was a little overwhelming, to have all the kids there, but I think the general sense was that people liked having them around.
- Logic Supply's underwater computer. They had it set up in a fish tank, with a little yellow rubber ducky floating on the surface.
- The beetags at the ECHO/Voices for the Lake booth. What is a beetag? I don't know the technical explanation, but they're basically bar codes that you photograph with your smartphone. Then your phone brings up a piece of content — in this case, a video. Bridget Butler wants to put these up at ECHO, to deepen the experience of viewing exhibits there. Check out her blog post about it.
- The Champlain Emergent Media Center and their video games. People played them all day long. It was rare to walk by and see all of the chairs empty. Here's a pic of someone playing their cystic fibrosis breathing exercise game.
- Michael Jager's talk. I didn't hear it, because I was out photographing the dancing firefly, but I heard his presentation was memorable. Channel 16, RETN, videotaped the speaker series, so we should be able to see it on film soon.
- Rich Nadworny's social media panel. I opened the door to look inside a few minutes after it started, and I could barely see in there it was so crowded. There was no standing room left. Here's his blog post about it, or you can scroll through the #vt3 tweets to find the highlights.
- The wi-fi. We had to scramble a bit at the last minute to boost it for this event, and Comcast stepped up to sponsor it, so we could offer wireless for free to everyone who attended. As a frequent conference goer, I really appreciated that it was free. There were a couple dead spots where I lost the signal, but it was thankfully very reliable.
For me, though, the most memorable moment of the day was when I met a woman at one of the exhibitor tables who I had invited to last year's jam. Back then, she was a senior at Middlebury College. Turns out she learned about a company at last year's event, made a connection with them, and got a job after graduation. Now she's working as a software engineer in Burlington. She told me she would not have stuck around in Vermont if she hadn't come to tech jam last year and found this job. That was gratifying.
Did you come to the tech jam? What did you think? We'll be putting up a post-jam survey in a couple days to get detailed feedback, but if you've got comments, feel free to share 'em here, too. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also check out the conversation on the #vt3 hashtag on Twitter. We had a bunch of people tweeting throughout the day. Here's a link to all of my blurry photos. And here's a blog post from the women of InLu. They were busy talking with passersby all day, so I didn't get a chance to test drive their web group gift service, but I'm very curious. We should also have a video of the jam later today or tomorrow. I'll post it here, and at vermont3.com.