Four Future-Focused Conferences for Creative Pros

Conferences and trade shows often let us see what types of creative skills will be the most marketable over the next five years. While it’s natural to feel comfortable attending the same conference year after year, it’s probably smarter to attend at least one conference that will challenge your view of the status quo and think about what’s next. Here are just a few examples of conferences with a focus on the future.

August 5-9 in Los Angeles

Computer graphics and interactive technology professionals will attend technical and creative programs focusing on research, science, art, animation, music, gaming, interactivity, education, and the web. An exhibition of products and services for the computer graphics and interactive marketplace will be held August 7-9.

The show’s Art Gallery will exhibit digital and technologically mediated artworks that explore the existence of wonderment, mystery, and awe in today’s world of mediating technologies and abundant data. Entitled “In Search of the Miraculous,” the exhibition will include 12 works handpicked from almost 400 submissions. The SIGGRAPH art exhibition jury included artists, designers, technologists, and critics hailing from academia, industry, and the independent art world.

Emerging Technologies demos will allow attendees to directly experience novel systems such as 3D displays. robotics, and interactive input devices.

The keynote speaker at SIGGRAPH will be Jane McGonegal, a visionary game designer and futurist,who is using alternate reality games to conduct research, build communities, connect with markets, and solve real-world problems from curing disease to addressing issues of poverty, hunger, and a world without petroleum. She currently serves as Chief Creative Officer for SuperBetter Labs.

Content Marketing World
September 4-6 in Columbus, Ohio

Logo for Content Marketing World 2012Content marketing is a fast-evolving field of marketing in which companies attract and retain customers by developing, curating, and delivering content that is relevant to their targeted buyers. The content is created for delivery through multiple channels, such as print, online video, blogs, webinars, and e-mail.

At the 2011 event, 16% of the attendees were journalists, copywriters, editors, bloggers, and others involved in content creation or content-management positions. Other attendees were company owners, partners, chief content officers, and managers or worked in other aspects of marketing, public relations, communications, and advertising.

The 70 sessions planned for the 2012 Content Marketing World include:

  • Book Publishing and Marketing for Businesses and Brands
  • Finding the Right Stories for Your Brand
  • How to Use Infographics and Visual Storytelling
  • Building Your Internal Publishing Department for Content/Social Success
  • How to Turn Your Blog Posts into an Amazon Best-Selling E-book
  • Leveraging Data to Drive Your Content Plan without Being Creepy
  • How to Reboot Your Content for a Mobile World
  • Creating an Original Video Strategy that Works
  • Creating Content that Shortens the Sales Cycle

The event will kick off with a presentation by content-marketing evangelist Joe Pulizzi. Joe founded the Content Marketing Institute that is hosting the conference.

HOW Interactive Design Conference
September 27-29 in Washington, DC
October 29-31 in San Francisco, CA

Logo for HOW Interactive Design ConfThis conference will teach designers how to transfer traditional design skills to web, digital, mobile and other interactive work. Beginning sessions are available for designers who are transitioning from print. More advanced sessions can help designers who are already experienced in web design. Sessions include:

  • WordPress Theming for Web Designers
  • Creating Content for Tablets: The Do’s and Don’ts for Touch Interactivity
  • Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content
  • Building Engaging Digital Advertising
  • The Role of Research in Great Interactive Design

In a general session on feedback, you can learn how to use analytics and feedback from users to improve your designs. Other topics to be covered include: HTML5, information architecture, web hosting, mobile design, web fonts, and more.

2012 Storyworld Conference + Expo
October 17-19 in Hollywood, CA

Held immediately before the Writer’s Digest Conference West (Oct. 19-21) and Screenwriters World Conference (Oct. 19-21), the 2012 Storyworld conference can help Logo for 2012 StoryWorld Conferencewriters and other content creators understand how a single storyteller with the right tools can excel at TV, film, books, web series, and games.  Producers and writers will share what they have learned by developing cross-platform entertainment and describe how a “transmedia” approach can give a story space to grow across media boundaries.

The conference will lead off with an introduction presented by Scott Trowbridge, the VP of Creative/R&D at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Sessions include:

  • Achieving Blockbusters and Evergreen in the Age of Pervasive Media
  • Narrative  Design for Interaction
  • The Rise of Data-Driven Storytelling

In a session entitled “Trans-Museum: Non-Fiction and Culture,”  speakers from the Smithsonian and Ball State University will talk about how partnerships with museums, universities, and other historical entities offer a unique way to create great transmedia experiences

Conferences Evolve with Technology Adoption

While some of topics at these fall conferences might not seem relevant to your current work, I have seen how quickly “futuristic” concepts can take hold. Over the past 15 years, I have met many entrepreneurial creatives who boldly tackled difficult technical skills long before the skills were automated and simplified for mass adoption.

Because technology marches on, so does the need for certain events. Earlier this month, I received a press release announcing that the bi-annual Cybertarts Festival will not be held in 2013. The festival was the first and largest collaboration of artists working in new technologies in all media in North America. Boston Cyberarts was launched in 1999

According to George Fifeld, director of Boston Cyberarts, “The mission of the Boston Cyberarts Festival was to promote new technologies in the arts. We were wildly successful and new media has become an integral part of arts programming and computer technology has become indispensable to the artistic process. So, it’s time to move on to new initiatives.”  Two of those initiatives include the “Art on the Marquee” digital display and The Boston Cyberarts Gallery, which will help foster the development of new practices in contemporary artmaking.