Last year we spent many cycles deciding what to name a conference. It was a gathering at Xerox PARC which focused on the remarkable changes which are underpinnings to the maker movement. The name we chose was “Hardware Innovation Workshop“.
“Hardware” was an easy choice of words. Not only was it distinctly different from “software” which everyone talks about, but it stood out. People nowadays don’t talk about hardware. It’s not sexy. Au contraire! Not since the 1970s has there been such low barriers to developing hardware. With cheap CNC tools, free software, and shared designs it’s now easy to make, iterate, and improve hardware products. Out of corporate design departments and into garages, we can all now prototype hardware.
“Innovation” was pretty obvious to us. What makers are doing with hardware is what tickles our fancy. We delight in seeing the crazy-wonderful new ideas that grow from makers’ minds. Toss in a wonderfully flexible (and cheap) microcontroller and amazing things come to life. This was another theme we wanted to highlight because in a sputtering economy “innovation” plus “hardware” holds promise of new product, start-up business and commerce.
“Workshop” actually wasn’t an easy choice at first. We knew most conferences were boring sit-in-your-seat affairs. At the same time we knew we were quite excited about hardware innovation. What format could we use to convey the excitement? Given this is a Maker Media production what better than a variation of Maker Faire? Pro makers like Brook Drumm, Ayah Bdeir, and Jay Rogers had their work on display. Thought leaders like Limor Fried, Massimo Banzi, and Nathan Seidel were in attendance. Industry heavyweights like Carl Bass, Ted Hall, and Mark Hatch were pitching. It eventually became obvious that we needed our attendees to have first-hand access to everything. We needed a workshop.
What’s in a name? Lots of soul searching, extensive discussion, and important decisions.
However, in the end we were very happy with “Hardware Innovation Workshop”.
Stay tuned. Another HIW is coming your way in the San Francisco Bay Area May 14-15 .