Conference

Looking for MCN 2018 Program co-chairs!

Hello, MCNers!

I hope everyone has had the opportunity to Look Back at a great MCN 2017 and 50 years of MCN history in the amazing MCN50 Voices series of interviews, Take Action at their institutions and in their communities, and … Think Ahead about MCN 2018.

The past year has been such an amazing experience as one of the Program Co-Chairs, along with Jennifer Foley and Trish Oxford. With Jennifer and Trish stepping down after their two-year terms have concluded, MCN is looking for two people to take their place and, with me, help plan our annual conference in 2018, then taking the lead for 2019.

It’s a lot of work, but you’ll be part of a sizable leadership and management team of MCN colleagues, as well as a field full of people who want to speak at, attend, and contribute to MCN 2018.

Here are 10 highlights of my first year as Co-Chair:

  1. Finding out just how much I already knew about the museum field—and how much there still is to learn.
  2. Working with the committee of local museum technology professionals in our host city and finding out the amazing work being done there.
  3. Crafting the theme, which starts pretty much right away and gets the Program Committee off to a rollicking start.
  4. Developing Keynote speaker(s) ideas, also with the Program Committee. This year we had some innovative ideas and it was great to see them realized.
  5. Calling for proposals in the spring—watching them trickle and then pour in, sending them out to the Program Committee for review, and then working together, with the help of a few hundred sticky notes, to turn them into a program.
  6. The weekly Co-Chair conference call.
  7. The conference itself, of course, which is a very different experience when you see it come together rather than just presenting.
  8. And yet presenting was still a joy.
  9. Developing the “other format” idea and receiving over two dozen proposals beyond the usual case studies, panels, and presentations.
  10. My favorite—being able to say to people, “You should really propose that as a session!”

The official call for Co-Chair applications is below. Applications are due to program@mcn.edu by December 22 January 7 (now extended!); I’m happy to answer any and all questions. Thanks,

Rob Weisberg
MCN 2018 Conference Program Chair

Trish Oxford, MCN2017 Program Co-Chair

MCN Program Co-Chair 2018 & 2019
Position Title: Conference Program Co-Chair

Period: 2 years
Start: late January 2018

Commitment: 3-5 hours/week throughout the year, increasing as the conference nears, with milestones in May and September, available full-time during the conference. Available one weekend in late March or early April for a site visit to that year’s conference location (paid for by MCN).

Compensation: the Conference Program Co-Chair is a volunteer role and is therefore not compensated; however, MCN does offer complimentary registration to the annual conference during the year(s) you serve.

Location: MCN’s Annual Conference is a North American based-conference that supports global involvement and has an emerging international following. The successful candidate is required to attend the Conference in person, as well as participate in regular phone or online meetings.

MCN2018 will take place in Denver, November 13–16, 2018, when the location of MCN2019 will be announced.

Deadline for applying: Extended until end of day, January 7!

Description: MCN is looking for two thoughtful, motivated, and dynamic museum professionals to serve as MCN Conference Program Co-Chairs for a two-year term starting in January 2018. This is an opportunity to help shape a major museum technology conference now and in future years, immerse yourself in cutting edge developments in the sector, broaden your networks on a national level, and to gain experience and professional development in event programming.

The Conference Program Co-Chairs provide leadership for the annual MCN Conference, creating the program through the conception and organization of workshops, panels and presentations in many different formats, experimental programs, keynotes, special events, and innovations not yet imagined. With current Conference Program Chair Rob Weisberg, the newly appointed Conference Program Co-Chairs will work as a team to develop an experiential conference program that serves the evolving needs of the MCN community and then serve as lead Conference Program Co-Chairs for the 2019 conference.

The ideal candidate will be passionate about the intersection of museums and technology and interested in developing an innovative conference program featuring proposals from participants from a wide range of institutions, backgrounds, and perspectives. They will be knowledgeable about MCN and the conference, having attended MCN several times in the previous five years. They will have existing networks within the sector, a strong understanding of the issues confronting museums with regards to technology and the practice of digital, and appreciate the challenges facing their colleagues from many different kinds of institutions and departments in the field. They will be active in the museum or cultural technology community and knowledgeable of trusted sources of information, and will be a proactive self-starter and a calm problem-solver with excellent oral and written communication skills. They will be a creative thinker both about big issues and small details, diplomatic under pressure, and ready to learn and adapt over the course of planning this conference.

About MCN: MCN is a nonprofit organization whose core purpose is to foster innovation and excellence by supporting professionals who seek to transform the way their cultural organizations reach, engage, and educate their audiences using digital technologies. We do this by building a community that attracts, nurtures, inspires and sustains exceptional professionals. Learn more.

For further information and a full overview of responsibilities, email program@mcn.edu.

To apply, please send an email articulating why you think you’d be a good fit for this position, and noting any relevant experience to: program@mcn.edu. Please include a CV or link to your LinkedIn profile.

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Feeling Welcomed and Paying Interns: The MCN Experience

By Courtney Titus, Former Educational Technology Coordinator, Blaffer Art Museum

 

MCN 2017 Welcome Sign

As I walked into my first MCN session as an MCN Scholar, I was reminded of the days when I started a new school. The same anxieties bubbled to the surface about being the new kid and feeling uncertain if I would fit in or feel welcomed. However, those fears were immediately silenced when I sat down and was warmly greeted by a veteran MCN attendee who was genuinely interested in getting to know me. I was delighted to discover that this was going to be a common occurrence throughout the conference. Everywhere I went—sessions, the membership lounge, bus rides, elevators—I was met with smiles, words of encouragement, and, on more than one occasion, much needed advice on the steps I could take to further my career.

I was equally delighted to discover that many of the session topics focused on how museums could create a similar welcoming environment for a more diverse group of staff members and visitors. The amazing keynote speakers set the tone for the conference by delving into the issues that prevent certain groups from working in museums as well as providing solutions for attracting these groups (e.g. pay your interns). Other sessions such as “All Roads Lead to the Bathroom” and “Museum Digital Content as Journalism?” explored ways museums could appear more inviting to visitors by caring for their basic needs and providing content that is relevant to them.

View of the keynote presentation

I walked away from the conference feeling inspired and motivated to apply what I learned as well as feeling genuinely grateful for having the opportunity to attend as an MCN Scholarship recipient. I know that regardless of where I ultimately end up in my career, the MCN conference will be a regular trip for me.

 

 

Headshot of MCN 2017 Scholar Courtney Titus

Courtney Titus

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Sharing, Caring, and Hashtag Taxonomies: going beyond #MCN2017

Thanks to social media, following a conference from home if you can’t make it in person has never been easier. Over the years we’ve seen an incredible level of activity around MCN and we are well aware that the amount of content being shared can make it difficult for those tuning in from home. At last year’s conference, we had 600 attendees but over 1,200 chimed in on Twitter alone, sharing over 9,000 tweets over a three-day span.

 

We decided to switch things up a bit this year in an attempt to make following through Twitter more digestible for our onsite and online communities. Following the success of the “Hash-Dash Syntax” at Museums and the Web this past spring, we’ve adopted the concept at #MCN2017.

 

Sean O’Shea, Manager of UX and Strategy at @Cuberis, came up with the brilliant idea. You can read more about it in his Medium post.

As Sean said, “Due to the way Twitter’s hashtags work, only the text before the dash will be recognized as a hashtag. This preserves the integrity of the conference hashtag. But the power of this approach is that users can easily search Twitter for the full hash-dash tag, which will surface all tweets from that session.” Brilliant, Sean!

 

If you’re getting ready for #MCN2017 you’ve probably been looking over the program and you may or may not have noticed in the online conference calendar that we’ve added a session-specific hashtag to each session. You can find them in the bottom left of the session descriptions.

 

So as we celebrate 50 years of MCN (and 10 years of the humble hashtag!), we hope this helpful change allows you to get more out of the sessions. See you in Pittsburgh and online!

 

The #MCN2017 Program Team
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MCN 2017 Ignite

View from MCN2015 Ignite stage

Post by Koven Smith

For those of you who have attended MCN in the last few years, one of the highlights of the conference has been Ignite MCN, where a group of courageous-slash-foolhardy speakers dispense wisdom in lightning-fast five-minute chunks on the opening-night of the conference. Each speaker has five minutes and 20 automatically-advancing slides to enlighten-slash-entertain-slash-frighten-slash-slightly amuse hundreds of MCN attendees.

I’ve been fortunate enough to organize and host Ignite MCN for the last five years, and each year, the same thing happens: immediately after the event, several people come up to me and say, “That was great! I’m totally submitting an Ignite talk next year!” This is typically the last time I ever hear from these people. So what I’m saying is, it’s now your time to step up! Do you have something important to say? Something that you think the rest of us need to know? Are you ready to take it to the limit, one more time?

The first question I’m usually asked as the host is, what makes a good Ignite talk, and why do some submissions get picked over others? I’m glad you asked. Ignite talks are different from more traditional presentations, so of course there are many proposals that would make great presentations, but that wouldn’t necessarily work for Ignite. So here’s a brief list of the kinds of things we’re looking for when we evaluate Ignite submissions:

  • Brevity: Ignite works best when the ideas are big, bright, and communicated succinctly. A good Ignite MCN proposal should be able to get to the main idea in three sentences or less. If it takes two full paragraphs to describe the concept behind your talk, it’s probably not the right fit for Ignite MCN.

  • A fresh perspective: Ignite talks are most interesting when coming from the standpoint of, “You’ve probably never thought about X in this way before.” Or, “I’m here to change your mind about Y.” Or, “This is an aspect of museum culture that you’ve probably not given too much thought to.” Ignite talks aren’t a great place for repeating the established wisdom, or presenting a project you’ve worked on. Enlighten us, but make it quick.

  • A sense of performance: Unlike more traditional conference presentations, Ignite talks are more like performances. I’m usually looking for some sense of this in the proposal. Humor can get this across, but so can a sense of excitement and/or evangelism. If I feel like the proposal is trying hard to convince me as the reviewer, then there’s a good chance that this enthusiasm will come across in the Ignite talk as well.

  • An understanding of the format: If you’ve never given an Ignite talk before, but mention in the proposal that you want to change the format (“I want to have 50 slides instead of 20” or “I want to have videos on every slide”), that proposal will probably not make it in. It can help if you’ve attended MCN and the Ignite event before, and seen this special event with its certain aesthetic in action, so that you know what to expect.

I’m looking for 7 to 9 talks that all work well together. Sometimes this can mean that great proposals are rejected just because they don’t fit in well with the rest. If you’ve submitted a talk in the past and didn’t get in, by all means re-submit! It may be a better fit this year. You never know!

GET STARTED RIGHT NOW!

Koven J. Smith
Director of Digital Adaptation
Blanton Museum of Art
The University of Texas at Austin

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“Other” Category Unpacked: #MCN2017 Call for Proposals

A group of MCN conference attendees meet on the floor at MCN 2016

Some of the best things in #musetech start in a floor meeting at MCN conferences

 

As a candid and welcoming community, MCN has always championed innovative sessions that are willing to take risks. Last year through the “Other” Category in the Call for Proposals, the program co-chairs created the option for attendees to “propose something else” to present in New Orleans. We actively sought out, encouraged and cultivated potential session ideas that did not fit the traditional 15-minute case study, 30-minute talk, or 60-minute multi-speaker panel formats. The resulting sessions were some of the highlights from #MCN2016 in New Orleans.

We hosted a number of “Unconferences” such as Rob Weisberg’s “‘Views My Own’ Museblog Unconference” and Greg Albers and Annelisa Stephan’s “Making the Workplace You Want.” The Unconference format is a loose and informal discussion usually focusing on a particular topic, sometimes over lunch.

Another kind of alternative session is the Teach-In. Last year in New Orleans, Nikhil Trivedi organized a “Github” offshoot meeting for people interested in the basics workings of Github. Teach-Ins, much like unconferences, are informal discussions focused on knowledge or skill-sharing.

We also hosted sessions with game formats like Trish Oxford’s Power of Vulnerability in Museums session, in which a panel of 5 individuals answered probing questions about museum work culture that were chosen at random for 60 minutes.

We have hosted live podcast session’s like Chad Weinard and Jason Alderman’s The Future of Museum Technology that “took a breakneck look at the problems in dealing with legacy systems, the failings of collection management systems, the infrastructure of process, and the importance of collaboration.”

Many sessions were held under Chatham House Rule, which specifies that participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed on social media channels or other broadcasts. These sessions became a safe place, in which participants were not recorded and could speak freely.

These few examples have in common informality, interactivity, and group exploration of topics that warrant discussion and dialogue. Other ideas might include:

  • A series of grouped short ignite talks, similar to the popular opening-night event
  • Round tables with more interaction than a typical multi-speaker panel
  • Group affinity discussions
  • Hackathons and prototyping

However, this doesn’t preclude you from adding audience participation and interactivity to more typical presentation formats. Many kinds of longer presentations—such as hackathons and prototyping—with interactivity and learning opportunities can be proposed as a pre-conference workshop. And the 60-minute panel timeframe affords much potential for audience interaction and elements of workshopping. No matter which type of format you propose, think of ways to keep the audience involved!

This year, we are also interested in sessions/activities that will enrich the program and conference experience including but not limited to open yoga sessions, running groups, museum pillow talk, drum circles, and silent discos. Please consider space limitations/requirements, extra equipment and costs when proposing these sessions.

In the end all great “Other” sessions begin with an idea or concept a group wants to explore, no matter how mundane or taboo it may seem. The MCN co-chairs are more than willing to talk through your proposal ideas and help devise the best session format to explore.

#MCN2017’s Call for Proposals opens April 1st!  

Don’t hesitate to reach out to program@mcn.edu with your questions, comments, and ideas.

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Cooking up the MCN 2017 Theme with 50+ Chefs in the Kitchen

Photo of the Heinz History Center

 

After days of virtual sharing, commiserating, wordsmithing, and voting, the MCN 2017 theme has arrived!

 

MCN 2017: Looking Back, Thinking Forward, Taking Action

 

Every year, MCN explores topics of relevance to museum practitioners working with, or affected by, digital media and technology. In 2017, MCN will focus on how museums can use technology to innovate and emphasize transparency, individual action, and institutional bravery. We are interested in cases where a creating an open museum culture encourages bold action to confront challenges in our field, our communities, and our society, including issues of diversity and inclusion.  

Submissions on any topic from people at all levels of the institution and all parts of the field are welcome, and we especially encourage proposals that present new ideas to leverage technologies which help museums evolve, create institutional partnerships outside the sector, and use lessons from the past to act for the future.

The forty-four members of the program committee represent various areas of expertise in institutions of different sizes and types, from locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. They spent two hectic weeks on Basecamp compiling their individual perspectives of what is relevant, meaningful, and critical to the future of the sector. That 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the Museum Computer Network as an organization gave the discussion special resonance, especially in light of political and social turmoil around the world and its impact on the museum field.

To start the discussion, committees members were presented with a few open ended statements to consider:

  • “What MCN50 means to me is …”
  • “What interests me in the field is …”
  • “What work outside of the museum sector is informing your work and would help other museum practitioners with their work?”

The group mused on how the view of technology in the museum had changed over the past 50 years, from a thing apart from museum practice—though a view all-too-often still present in our institutions—to something intertwined with the everyday work of museum professionals. What will technology mean to us, and our visitors and remote audiences in another 50 years?

Libraries (which are now represented in the MCN community), game design, theater design, and the growing organizational culture field all were cited as influencing the way the committee members viewed their own museum work. And many members were naturally interested in how technology can impact visitor experience, contribute to a sense of playfulness and joy for visitors and staff alike, and build equity and dismantle oppressive structures that museums are often a part of.

After a week of sharing, dozens of points and threads of discussion were distilled into several large ideas:

  • Bringing actionable steps back to our museums
  • Inclusiveness and advocacy        
  • Museum technology and solving problems         
  • Innovation, Change, and Progress           
  • Being Brave and Bold    
  • Welcoming   
  • Openness and transparency

Another round of discussion ensued, including a cameo appearance from the haiku exercise from last year’s committee. Committee members wrestled with wording around a commitment to action and bravery—were these matters for individual attendees? For their institutions? For society?

The committee then voted on 65 variations of the potential theme in a semifinal round, leading to a final vote on six possibilities. The vote was close, reflecting the many concerns that committee members have in viewing the role of technology in the museum field.

Ultimately, the honor went to “MCN 2017: Looking Back, Thinking Forward, Taking Action.” (To take a page from the Oscars, we won’t call the other finalists losers, and all reflected an interest in openness, action, and bravery.)

As the program committee moves on to discuss keynote speakers and other conference questions—not to mention preparing for the joyous onslaught of proposals later this spring!—the spirit of this nearly-50-person conversation will continue to enliven the preparation for MCN 2017 in Pittsburgh. The co-chairs can’t thank the committee members enough!

As you consider what type of presentations to propose, keep in mind the “other” category. While most presentations will fit into 15-minute case study, 30-minute talk, or 60-minute multi-speaker panel formats, we are open to ideas. Some that we have held, or considered in the past, for you to propose:

  • “Unconferences”: more informal discussions usually focusing on a particular topic, sometimes over lunch. Last year we had an unconference on “views-my-own” bloggers in the museum field.
  • A series of grouped short ignite talks, similar to the popular opening-night event.
  • Round tables, but consider how this differs from simply a multi-speaker panel.
  • Remember that many kinds of longer formats such as hackathons and prototyping can be proposed as a workshop, provided there is opportunity for interactivity and learning.
  • In fact, a 60-minute time frame affords many opportunities for interactivity, workshopping, etc., with the audience. Think of ways to keep the audience involved!
  • Group or affinity discussions

We can’t wait to see proposals from across the field and from staff at all levels of their institutions. Attending MCN is great, but participating in a presentation is a great way to have a voice in the many discussions so important to museums today.

 

Your friendly co-chairs,

Trish Oxford

Jennifer Foley

Rob Weisberg  

 

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MCN 2016 Sessions – How to write an MCN proposal

Post it notes with MCN 2016 session proposals written on them.

How to Write an MCN Proposal

Friday, November 4, 2016 9:30 AM – 10:00 AM

Join the MCN Program Co-Chairs to find out how the conference program comes together.

Speakers
Speaker : Suse Cairns, Assistant Professor, George Washington University
Speaker : Jennifer Foley, Director of Education and Community Engagement, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Speaker : Trish Oxford, Principal Technologist, Trish Oxford Media

Transcript

 

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Welcome our new conference co-chair, Rob Weisberg!

Post by Program co-chair, Trish Oxford

 

Jennifer Foley and I are excited to announce that Rob Weisberg will be our newest Program Co-Chair for #MCN2017! This year, in addition to developing the conference theme, call for proposals, program structure, and creative events, the Program Committee will also ensure that MCN’s 50th anniversary gets recognized and celebrated in Pittsburgh during MCN2017 itself. Our Co-Chairs will explore how MCN has impacted our community over the past 50 years and how we will carry on this spirit of innovation into the future! Rob comes to the team with a wealth of ideas, energy, and enthusiasm.  Please join me in welcoming him to the team! If you haven’t yet been in touch, but are interested in helping shape the future of the annual conference, we’d love to hear from you. All ideas are welcome. Please write to program@mcn.edu

Meet Rob, MCN2017 Program Co-Chair

Robert Weisberg headshotRob is Senior Project Manager in the Publications and Editorial Department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His experience before The Met was in journalism and publishing production, so he appreciates the many paths people take before ending up in the museum field. Rob worked on hundreds of Met printed exhibition and collection catalogues until the past few years when he helped reboot the museum’s label program, as well as participated in several print-digital hybrid projects. He’s always tried to mediate and translate between different museum and workplace cultures and styles; he considers discrediting false dichotomies in the museum field — visitor-focused or collection-focused, print or digital, slow or fast, creative or organized, agile or deliberative — to be his calling. He blogs about museums and organizational culture at robertjweisberg.com. Rob has been a temporary New Yorker for 25 years and lives in New York City with his real-New-Yorker wife.

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#MCN2017 Program Committee: We Want You!

A panorama shot of MCN 2016 Ignite at the House of Blues, New Orleans

At your institution…

Do you design beautiful digital publications or geek out on microcontrollers and circuits? We want you.

Do you get your kicks from collaborating through interpretive media or crunching data to inform your museum’s digital strategy? We want you.

Do you work in a department 2 or 200? We want you.

The MCN2017 Program Committee is seeking 40 museum professionals, each bringing a different perspective from across the sector.  This committee will play a significant role shaping this year’s conference Nov. 7-10 in Pittsburgh.

 

What does the Program Committee do?

Through online discussions, the Program Committee is a think tank that determines the most important themes and trends in the field, identifies new programming opportunities, and brainstorms possible speakers. Most significantly, members are the backbone of the conference proposal evaluation process.

In May, after the close of MCN’s Call for Proposals, individual proposals are assigned for evaluation to Program Committee members with relevant professional expertise on the topic. Evaluators are asked to provide feedback through a formalized process. Members are given 10-14 days to complete their evaluations. Next, the Program Co-Chairs assemble the conference schedule primarily based on the committee’s feedback.    

This year is a special year for MCN! #MCN50
In Pittsburgh, MCN2017 will celebrate MCN’s 50th anniversary! Honoring the organization’s work to advance digital transformation in museums, our “Dream Team” Program Committee will represent as many as possible of the following expertise:

  • Digital Education
  • Interpretive Media
  • Research and Evaluation
  • Informational Technology (IT)
  • Digital Asset Management (DAM)
  • Social Media
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Media Production & Branding
  • Leadership & Strategy
  • Data and Insights
  • Digital Imaging
  • Intellectual Property
  • Publishing
  • Experience Design
  • Digital Storytelling

We are actively seeking a diversity of organizations including, but not limited to:

  • Science Museums, Zoos, and/or Aquariums
  • Art Museums and Centers
  • Natural History Museums
  • Historic Houses
  • Libraries
  • Archives  

We are also looking to include representation of small, international, and academic institutions.

If you are interested in helping us rock Pittsburgh, send an email to program@mcn.edu describing your interest. Please include a link to your LinkedIn profile or resume/CV attached.

Deadline: Tuesday, January 31st

-Trish Oxford & Jennifer Foley

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Pronoun stickers at MCN 2016

Guest post by Nikhil Trivedi

Nikhil Trivedi delivers his MCN 2015 Ignite talk

At MCN this year we had pronoun stickers (along with lots of other fun stickers!) that attendees could optionally add to their name badges. I’d like to share some background of this sort of thing at conferences, what sort of thinking went around our stickers, and how I had them printed.

Some background

In recent years there’s been a growing number of conferences that have allowed attendees to identify their pronouns with each other is some formalized way. What’s being challenged here is the notion that the ways we may perceive each other’s genders doesn’t always match our gender identities and the pronouns we use.

I’ve seen some conferences ask for people’s pronouns during registration and print them on attendees’ name badges. Others have had pins that say “Ask me for my pronouns!” to encourage attendees to have conversations about their pronouns.

Some people appreciate the opportunity to identify their pronouns in spaces that don’t often encourage that. Some folks don’t want to feel like they’re being forced to out themselves to a room full strangers. And other folks feel all sorts of ways that I haven’t yet learned about. All these feelings and criticisms are totally valid.

The stickers at MCN

So as conference organizers, how do we do navigate all these concerns and implement a system for our group of attendees, specifically?

I’m connected when a network of radical tech workers via a conference called AlterConf. I went to them for some guidance on how to make gender identification easier for folks who wish to share it, but it’s really complicated. As I mentioned above, for some, pronouns can be a really personal thing to share with a room full of 618 other people they don’t really know. For others, they want the opportunity to put it out there. In hindsight, I see that ultimately the best way to do this would have been to ask attendees who don’t conform to the gender binary what they want for their conference experience, and to have done that. With a little more foresight, we could have done that. If the stickers didn’t sit right with any of the attendees, I’d love to hear your feedback and criticisms. So please do reach out to me!

As a cisgendered man, I recognize that I may not have been the best person to have made the final decisions about how to implement a mechanism like this. I do know that we have had trans people in our community in the past, and we have lost some of those folk due to awful, tragic circumstances. I think about that when I’m planning my sessions and participating in the program committee. What would they have wanted? What can we do to support trans first-timers and old-timers to feel welcome at MCN, and how can we support cis attendees in being thoughtful about our trans attendees?

Here are some of the things I thought about when deciding if and how to make the stickers. All this stuff came out of my conversations with folks through AlterConf:

  • They shouldn’t be mandatory. If folks want to share their pronouns with other attendees, great! If they prefer not to specify their pronouns, that’s great, too! I thought it was important to make it clear to all attendees that the stickers were totally optional for all people.
  • People should be able to choose multiple pronouns. Some folks use multiple pronouns and appreciate when people mix it up.
  • The options shouldn’t be limited. Gender is a spectrum, and there are many, many ways people identify, and people use any number of pronouns to represent that.
  • They should be easy to read at a quick glance or for someone who is visually impaired.
  • They should be fun and colorful. And I didn’t want them to conform to traditionally gendered colors (blue and pink). Because people who all use a same pronoun can think, act, and be totally different from each other.

In the end, clearly optional, easy to read stickers were the best option.

How I made them

While I was chatting with AlterConf friends, someone went ahead and designed the stickers that we ended up using at MCN! Amazing!

Pronoun stickers in use at MCN 2016

I used the Sticker Book on moo.com and chose the option where I could upload my own artwork. Here are the final images I used to print. And here are the source files, in case you want to make any changes. Moo.com let you lay out the stickers in a way where you can order more of some stickers than others, so adjust the quantities as you see fit. It’s super cheap, it comes out to about $10 for every 90 stickers you order.

At the conference we placed the stickers down at the registration desk with a sign stating clearly that all stickers were totally optional for all people. And we laid them out with other fun stickers, too–like cats in chef’s hats! Unicorns! Pigs making snowpeople!

Here’s what Justine Arreche (@saltinejustine), the designer, had to say about the stickers:

“When I saw the discussion regarding pronoun stickers I was excited. I thought it was such a great idea and was I surprised I hadn’t seen anything like that before. After a quick Google search with limited results I decided to create my own set of pronoun stickers for people to use. I wanted the design to be respectful yet still fun enough for attendees to want to put the stickers on their badges or shirts. The colors were carefully chosen to avoid gendered colors while also preserving readability for those with any visual impairments. After sharing a screen shot of the designs on Twitter my mentions were inundated with people requesting how they could print them for their events. I quickly created a public Dropbox folder with a variety of file types allowing people to have them printed locally or online. Additionally I included the live files so there was the ability to change the designs as their needs required.”

I was excited to provide the stickers at MCN 2016. I’d love to hear what you thought about them, how they may have changed your conference experience, and any feedback or criticism you might have. Please reach out to me on Twitter and let me know!

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