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DemoCampGuelph and Improvised Community Making

I reckon I’ve attended 17 out of 20 DemoCampGuelph nights. Why do I come? Community. I know, it can be a problematic term, but there is something to it that’s worth holding on to.

DemoCampGuelph is part of an important movement of improvised community-making, a new, responsive way of building networks of trust and respect, engaging in dialogue, negotiating differences, taking risks, celebrating successes and sharing responsibility.

DemoCampGuelph is a community that encourages communication through authentic storytelling, real stories of success and failure, of strengths and weaknesses, of hopes and fears. It’s a platform for learning, connecting, collaborating, and growing.

DemoCampGuelph is important and inspiring. A lot of good comes from it. I’ve never been on stage at DemoCampGuelph, but on Wednesday I will be. I’m not there to demo. I’m there to share a story, raise some awareness and (hopefully) some funds.

On Friday of Labour Day weekend, our 9-year-old daughter, Maeve was diagnosed with a brain tumour. We were rushed to MacMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton for surgery, returning home after 3 nights. Results of the pathology showed that the tumour was a benign astrocytoma. We’re happy to report that follow-up appointments and tests show no sign of re-growth and a full recovery. The care we received at MacMaster was incredible. The staff worked to ensure we were all very well taken care of and that we had all the information we needed.

There continues to be incredible advances in research around the causes and cures for brain tumours. Over time, this research has led to: improvements to technologies allowing doctors to view the brain, advances in surgical techniques, radiation practices and treatments; as well as improvements for paediatric patients.

On May 5, 2013, a team of friends and family members will be participating in the Spring Sprint at the Arboretum in Guelph, in support of the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Find out more, join the team, and donate at

See you on Wednesday.

DemoCampGuelph21 Next Week

We’re closing in on our next DemoCampGuelph on April 10th in downtown Guelph at The EBar. You still have time to submit for a demo spot but that time is slipping away so email me your demo pitch asap! As always, it’s free to attend, you don’t have to be technical or demo something to attend. If you’re interested in meeting people in our community working in and around technology then please come out! Please make sure to register to attend so we have room for everyone.

Spread the word on twitter for us!

For those who haven’t heard, we have Zak Homuth as our invited speaker. After running his latest startup through YCombinator, Zak’s back home in Toronto reinventing how you create hardware.

You’re never going to believe who I found hiding on the outskirts of the royal city? I’m very excited to have Drew McIvor playing tunes for us after we award The Crowie.

Getting A Demo Spot

(Editor’s Note: Reposted from shiftMode 2010)

We turned a particular corner with DemoCampGuelph events last year that personally makes my life a whole lot simpler, that being that we now consistently have more people applying to demo than we have spots. The plus for me is that I don’t spend the week of the event begging every human I know who owns a computer to demo something. The down side is that we don’t get to see all the demos possible and we have to say no to some people. I thought I’d take a few minutes to write up a few tips on how to increase your odds of being selected to demo.

First a brief primer on the event itself, in case you haven’t seen enough from me yet. I’ll start by deferring to seyDoggy: “At DemoCampGuelph everyone is a pony and they eat rainbows and poop butterflies…I mean DemoCampGuelph is geeks, beer and startup. It’s all good!

Ok, I’m not sure what that means but it hits all the sweet spots, those being ponies, rainbows, butterflies, and beer. How about this? “DemoCampGuelph is for anyone in and around Guelph interested in software, the web and technology! Startup junkies, wage slaves, consultants, students, indie professionals, engineers, designers, money and marketing guys. If you want to see and talk about some interesting things, and get to know other people in the Guelph tech community, come on out! You don’t have to demo to attend.

As you were conditioned when completing your phd, please pay particular attention to the emphasis! Tell us why your demo matters to techies in and around Guelph. This is demoCampGuelph. There, I’m done with that point.

Beyond that, shorter is better for your pitch as my brain can no longer seem to read beyond the 140 character point. As expected, our audience is up on technology and they’re connected, both within our attendees and without. Where DemoCamp‘s differ from other events is that it isn’t about you as the demo’er, it’s about us, the audience.

Yes it’s a great opportunity for you to market an upcoming, or existing product. Yes, it’s a great chance to find a funder or a job but the only reason this event exists is because we all love attending. We will always favour people who recognize that and demo things we want to see. So, picture yourself giving up a few hours of your possibly precious time on a work night to drag your butt to a bar and listen to some random stranger talk to you about computers, what would you want them to talk about? Getting a demo spot is your opportunity to give something back to us lowly wage slaves who climb out of our closets every few months so treat it precious and use it well

Oh, and from experience, puppets can only help…

Demo Tips

(Editor’s note: This is being reposted here from shiftMode)

By the end of this week I’ll have organized and hosted 13 DemoCampGuelph events. Along the way I’ve seen some incredible demo’s. I’ve learned, I’ve been impressed but I’ve also been embarrassed and outright skeered. People often ask for tips and information related to demo’ing but to be honest I’m not the expert. While I have demo’d at other events such as DemoCampToronto, I’m only the mc. You wouldn’t ask Whoopi Goldberg how to win an Oscar would you? (Let’s pretend she only hosted the oscars and didn’t win two of them as well…)

So, now that I’ve told you not to listen to me, here’s a few quick tips if you’re thinking of demo’ing:

  • DemoCamp’s are not pitch events. Don’t pitch or market to the crowd, no one’s here to be sold to.
  • Don’t delude yourself. You’ve only got 5 minutes! You can’t demo the entire feature set of your CRM that’s going to save the world so don’t try. Pick an area within your product or a specific feature or workflow that will interest the crowd and demo that alone.
  • Focus your message. Just because this is a demo event doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on a message we take away from your demo. What’s the sentence you’d like me as a listener to type into twitter when you’re done? Thinking this way helps focus your demo and hopefully have a consistent flow to it.
  • Be prepared for technology to fail and keep presenting. If you get 5 minutes to pitch to a key investor, they aren’t going to wait 15 while you work out wifi issues. Have something prepared if the network or projector or mic etc fails. Improvise and keep moving.
  • It’s cliche but take your time and have fun. This is a community event of peers who appreciate you putting the time in to show what your passionate about so chill and enjoy the experience. You can stress out on your wedding day.

Some great tips from DemoCampGuelph12’s Crowie award winner Tony Thompson:

  • “First off, some kind of a presentation outline is good. I just use point form notes. Make sure you have some detail you can cut out, or insert on the fly depending on your audience interest.”
  • “The eBar is a big room. The audience will not be able to see you as much as they can see your live demo — so your demo must work and look nice. When you want to make a point, you won’t be able to do it with your facial expression alone, you’ll have to do it verbally as well.”
  • “Keep any graphics simple and to the point. To anybody more than halfway down the bar, the projection screen will look like a file card, and they won’t be able to make out any fine detail.”

Tony left out his secret sauce, more robots = good.

Silent No More

Kanye Lets Taylor Finish

In the words of the great Kanye West, Simon “Imma let you finish” but I just want everyone to know that I had one of the best DemoCampGuelph (DCG) presentations of ALL TIME. Let’s be honest here, what I brought to the table that night was nothing short of spectacular, a masterpiece for the ages and it’s not only upsetting but straight up wrong that I didn’t get to take home the crowie.

Don’t get me wrong, what I think Simon did with the Diyode crew in developing the CodeShield is great. It allows people of all ages and ability to get up and running with an Arduino in a matter minutes. It really is an amazing product and the fact that it came out of the maker community right here in Guelph fills my heart with pride. I mean, just think of the impact the CodeShield could have on our future generation of makers; give a child with a burgeoning interest in electronics two potatoes, some leads and digital display and you may hold their interest for an hour. Give that same child an Arduino with a CodeShield and they will spend hours enjoying its spinning cross thingie and blinking light.

The purpose of my writing today is not to take anything from Simon or his “win” that night at DCG, think of it more like a wake up call for the jokers that call themselves judges. If Simon had shown the CodeShield at any other DCG I’m sure he would have deserved his win, but that night he and the other presenters started at a disadvantage, I was presenting as well. That’s the way life is sometimes, it’s like bringing a professional athlete to a game of pickup, it’s not his fault that he was born with natural athletic talent, just as it’s not everyone else’s fault they weren’t. I’ve been silent for some time now, determined to be the better man and to not voice my disappointment at the “judges” decision that night but I cannot, will not, remain silent any longer. I demand that these judges be stripped of their positions and never allowed to make any decisions regarding anything ever again. If they got something so simple as who won the crowie wrong then just think of the disasters they could cause in other areas.

  • “The sign says STOP so surely everyone else will STOP and I can continue on my merry, ignorant way.”
  • “Washing my hands is just a hassle and I’ve already been sick with the flu this year, what’s the worst that could happen?”
  • “There’s no chocolate left in this box of Neapolitan and all I ever eat is chocolate, time for another box of Neapolitan.”

My call to action isn’t for my own satisfaction in seeing these people held accountable for their misguided misinformed decision, it’s a public service to save the community.

Has anyone ever wondered just how the DCG judgement is rendered? I wouldn’t be surprised if these dullards read tea leaves or goat entrails. How can we stand idly by as our fate as presenters is held hostage by such savage devices. It’s time we took control and push back against this oppression. “Seize the day” they say, well I say why stop there? We must seize the crowie, release it from the clutches of evil and allow it to be given to the rightful winner. The presenter who truly owned the stage, captivated the audience and presented the most amazing, mind bending application or device. The writing is on the wall, the winner of DCG shouldn’t be decided by judges who are apparently completely out of touch but by the audience, that’s who we’re here for anyways.

drop the mic

Demo != DemoCampGuelph

A friend mentioned today that naming our upcoming DemoCampGuelph inspired event “DemoCampGuelph Old School” was confusing. Some people may think we’re stopping the existing DCG and replacing it with these events.

To clarify, DCG proper is not changing. All we’re doing here at ThreeFortyNine is hosting a smaller, more intimate event inspired by the early days of DemoCamps. We’ve renamed these new events to just “Demo”. We’re hosting the first one April 4th. We’ll have room for about a dozen people. Register to join us for it!