The Collaborate Preview Event: Good Problems To Have

"The Collaborate preview event was flawless and awesome! If the event's objective was to connect bright people, meet leading edge companies, and learn a thing or two about open data, it was a resounding success!"  - Son Tran, Broadcasting Board of Governors

Thank you so much to all who requested invitations and attended the Collaborate preview event. We had a wonderful time and we hope you did too. Our team was especially excited to “test-drive” the concepts we think set Collaborate apart from other conferences. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how it went.

Piloting the Collaborate Forum

The Preview event was the perfect opportunity to pilot the Collaborate Forum and put our ideas about what makes a great panel discussion to the test. The Collaborate Forum is a variation on a panel discussion format, borrowing significantly from the fireside chat format. We keep the number of speakers small, and the environment helps to create organic discussion between forum speakers, not just the traditional call and response between speakers and moderator. In order to facilitate audience participation, we incorporate the app, which allows for questions and comments to be posed to the Forum speakers in real time.

Troubleshooting Logistics and Event Production

Throughout the planning process, our team has repeated that attendee experience is paramount. The real business of the “day-of” event production starts days before the event with communication, event updates, and instructions to attendees. Something in particular we wanted to test was venue management: the Ronald Reagan Building is huge and intimidating, so we needed to practice all the measures we’ve put in place to make you feel welcome and not let you get lost (we hope you didn’t)! In addition, several vendors that are critical to the conference's success worked with us on the preview. The opportunity to build strong working relationships this far in advance, promises our attendees a seamless Collaborate experience in January.

So... What Happened?

We were thrilled to be overwhelmed with interest, receiving close to 600 invitation requests. Unfortunately, our capacity at the Ronald Reagan Building was just 250, making it impossible to extend invitations to all who requested them. It was ultimately a good problem to have, but it made for difficult decisions about who received an invite. Happily, our overcapacity resulted in a very diverse audience with strong expertise and interesting backgrounds. Attendees joined us from all sectors, and including incredible folks like the Deputy Chief of Staff of the US Patent & Trademark Office, the Press Secretary of NASA, the Deputy Director of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, the Chief Innovation Officer of Montgomery County, the CTO of Discovery Communications, the Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition, the Director of Federal at Socrata, the Founder of Datasembly, and a Policy Analyst from Google.

What's Next?

Registration for the main conference is now open, and early bird passes are going quickly, so get one while you can. As a reward for reading this far, the code "preview20" will take 20% off the early bird price of admission. Additionally, registration for Expos and Showcases opens on Monday, October 27th. If your organization or business is interested in taking part, please register as soon as you can.

We will be announcing an exciting list of workshops, speakers and more in the coming weeks, and we hope to see you in January!


By Frank Taylor


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