MX Conference

MX stands for Managing Expertise and is targeted at people like managers of creative teams trying to generate great user experiences. The conference is put on by the people at Flexible Course, that have a reasonable amount of experience managing expertise.

  • Location: OK, this isn’t a small detail, but it was a significant one. The conference was in the gorgeous Mark Hopkins hotel, on top of Nob Hill. Pretty sweet.
  • The detail which made me grin every time was the Return to Your Chairs music — at the end of each break, they played 1970s game show theme music to indicate it was time to sit down.
  • Video clip strategery: Refocusing a viewer’s attention after a break is a challenge, and I really enjoyed AP’s approach here. Following the return-to-your-seats music, as opposed to tapping a mic for focus, they just started playing a movie clip. Gradually, audience members noticed the clip was playing, and from the close of each clip, everyone’s attention was concentrated on the front of the room.
  • A/V: I have put on my fair share of workshops and seminars, and I understand that getting demonstrations to work easily (or at all) is an oft-fumbled challenge. The people at AP did a excellent job in this department, and even took it a step beyond basic proficiency. The A/V team in the rear of the room seamlessly cross-faded between summit images and presenter decks, pretty much without missing a beat. Wonderful work, guys!
  • Winner for many useful detail: picture recording. During each semester, AP staffers at the rear of the room recorded the demonstration, ultimately producing a large set of illustrated note-diagrams. I first learned about picture recording in school, when, on the first day of my Community-based Planning course, our professor surprised us by taking notes this way. Since that time, I have learned that picture recording is truly tough to do. I was particlarly pleased with the conference-wide summary graphic, and the procedure by which they made it. Following the final session, recorders went through every session’s board and made post-it notes of the major points. Thenthey ordered the post-its on the summary board till they came to a sensible design, after they removed the post-its and drew from the final graphics. Have a look at the flickr pool showing all of the boards.
    : Alexa from AP muses about ways to promote more audience involvement in picture recordings.
  • Online community: Together with the true convention was the virtual convention community, powered by CrowdVine, which is just another build-your-own social networking tool (like Ning). I didn’t really clue into the internet community until the conclusion of the seminar, but I will be interested to see if it stays busy. At the very least, it was trendy to browse profiles of other attendees and watch label clouds of people’s job titles and companies.

My only critique was a little one — which the nametags, worn by everybody around the neck with a lanyard, should have names printed on both sides, instead of names on the front and programs on the back. I would say that about 50 percent of the time (funny how it works out that way…) people’s nametags were hanging backward, defeating their purpose. I said this to an AP staffer, who requested”but is not the program important?” . So, next year, names on either side, OK?

In general, it was among the best-executed events I have attended (have not been to Macworld however, however ), so bravo, AP team!

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