Social Dev Camp, that is. On August 13-15, Jordan Ho and Greg Baugues attended the third annual Social Dev Camp Chicago, an "unconference" for social application and platform developers that explores the emerging trends in new media. This year's guest speakers included Ben Huh, the CEO of the web's largest comedy network, Icanhazcheezburger.com; Michael Slaby, the former CTO of President Obama's election campaign; and Andrew Mason, the CEO of Groupon, which graced the August cover of Forbes as the fastest growing company of all time.
The biggest takeaways from the conference were ideological rather than technical. "Human nature admires complexity and rewards simplicity," Huh said, advising that people make their applications as simple as possible and not "over engineer." Slaby spoke of the importance of establishing a clear goal and always working toward it (in his case, getting Obama elected). Technology should never be employed for its own sake, but only where it supports that greater objective.
Slaby also trotted out some interesting web stats from the campaign that demonstrate how social media is changing politics. Of the $700 million the Obama camp raised, $500 million came from online donations. Though for a time Slaby was the only staffer who knew how to build websites, at its height the campaign employed more than 100 paid workers dedicated to social media efforts, as compared to Senator McCain's 10. Slaby himself worked a total of 603 days, with only five days off.
All in all, it was a great weekend. We learned a ton, met cool people, and are already looking forward to next year's event. Perhaps most significantly, it renewed some of our faith in Chicago's tech conferences.
Check out some of the other upcoming conferences we'll be attending:
Tech in the Middle: This one-day event focuses on expanding mobile application and cloud computing knowledge in the Midwest.
September 11 / Illinois Institute of Technology
Chicago COUNTS, a conference uniting non-profits and technology. Greg will be doing a repeat performance of "How to Not Get Screwed" which he has given at the ICNC and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
September 12 /Illinois Institute of Technology
midVentures Launch: A two-day conference for entrepreneurs, VCs, and media that showcases new and innovative start-ups and applications in the technology space. September 27-28 / UIC Forum