php|tek is goin’ digital

Posted by on March 17, 2011
 

One of the things that I have always wanted to change in our conferences is the way we hand out collateral materials. Typically, we want to make sure that all attendees have ready access to a lot of critical information, such as scheduling, talk synopses, speaker bios, and so on. Similarly, our sponsors also want an opportunity to pass along a handout or two, and maybe a few freebies.

All this paper, sadly, has a very limited shelf life. Conference programs are easily misplaced, pamphlets are often discarded, and so on, and so forth. The end result is an enormous amount of waste—I’m pretty sure that, last year, we probably shipped, handled, and handed out at least 500lbs. of paper—and less value than everyone would like.

This year, therefore, we have set out to “go digital” and limit our paper usage as much as possible. As part of this initiative, we are going to introduce a few changes:

  • First of all, we won’t have bag or handouts. Instead, we’ll give all attendees a USB key with all the materials, including cool demos and software from our sponsors.
  • The conference program is going digital, as well—we’ll make it available for download in PDF, ePub, and MOBI format so that you can pick it up and install it on your computer or e-book reader of choice.
  • We are hard at work on a mobile app for the conference—it will let you consult the schedule and speaker bios, create your own custom schedule, and interact with the other attendees using group messaging. It’ll be a great way to keep on top of things (including the many and sundry evening activities) without having to reach for a piece of paper all the time. Oh, and the app will work on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7 devices (pending, of course, approval from Apple and Microsoft).
  • If you don’t happen to have a smartphone, don’t worry: we are still going to print schedules, but these will be on lightweight postcards that are easier to carry around and don’t create too much clutter.

The app is chugging along rather nicely—we are testing the iOS prototype and are going to start working on the Android and WP7 versions shortly. Once it’s complete, we plan on open-sourcing the mobile app, in the hopes that other conference and user-group organizers will find it useful to help reduce their environmental footprint as well (and maybe help making it an even better app!).

There you have it, then. We’re goin’ digital, and we hope that you will be there to enjoy the wonders of technology with us (while having a smashing good time with your friends and colleagues from the PHP community).


About the author—Marco is the keeper of keys and Chief Garbage Collector at Blue Parabola, php|architect's parent company. He can be found on Twitter as @mtabini.