Putting together a technical program like DAC is a massive task, involving many heads and hands. However, making a program useful and interesting to conference attendees requires actually listening to them when they tell you what they want to learn about. For this year’s 45th DAC, General Chair Limor Fix hopes that such an effort will pay off.
“To address what attendees told us they wanted, all of the chairs for the panels, tutorials, and the technical program were asked to give more room and focus to tutorial content. We wanted content that is useful to designers immediately, not in five years,” says Fix.
In formulating the conference lineup, Fix was determined to address the realities of the design community today. “There are new subcommunities, new topics, that people go to specialized conferences to learn about,” says Fix. “They may or may not come to DAC for that knowledge. Which ones are they going to? To bring back to DAC those fractured subcommunities seeking specialized content, DAC has opened the gates to co-located events and to workshops.”
Speaking of workshops, last year’s DAC had six. This year’s edition will have at least twice that number, reflecting a dedication to hands-on, present-oriented content.
Communication with DAC’s audience has also been an area of emphasis. “We learned from our surveys that we should communicate in a way that’s easier and friendlier. So we made a special effort with the DACeZine newsletter (www.dac.com/45th/enewsletters.html). We didn’t just change the name, but we changed the content, contributors, and format. It’s really trying to reach everyone and to encourage design experts and managers to voice their opinions,” says Fix.
Another interesting communication initiative involves use of YouTube. “If an author’s paper was accepted, they can create a brief promotional video for their presentation. We’ll upload those videos to bring some new flavor to promotion of the conference,” says Fix.
DAC has also reconsidered the exhibit floor. “We want to bring back to the show floor the buzz and the fun that seems to have decreased in the last few years,” says Fix. With some 250 exhibitors expected to be lined up by showtime, the committee expanded the popular “Free Monday” concept, in which admission to the exhibit floor was free on Mondays, to the entire week.
A bigger change is to have exhibitor forums on the floor. “This would be a place for people to discuss, in more detail, announcements of new products,” says Fix. “We know that people choose not to announce new products during DAC, preferring to do so a few weeks ahead. The exhibitor forums will give attendees a way to get more details about these new products. So the Exhibitor Forum will have presentations clustered by topics.” The exhibitor forum is in addition to the popular DAC Pavilion on the show floor, where there will be 20 panel discussions this year compared to last year’s 18.
Also new is the Best of DAC awards, intended to motivate exhibitors to bring more to the show. There will be first-, second-, and third-place winners in categories such as Best Overall New Product, Best Demonstration, Most Interesting First-Time Exhibitor, Best Booth, and, most importantly for DAC, Best Booth Giveaway. Winners will be chosen based on attendee voting from electronic kiosks on the show floor.