By Sharon White
Sharon White has been the main organizer of ClueCon for many years! This is a little behind the scenes look into ClueCon and all her favorite things about the conference.
4. The Gigabit Reception
Most conferences worth their salt have a reception – a chance for the attendees that make up the community to mingle. The Gigabit Reception is the annual party that happens on Tuesday evening during ClueCon. This is one of my favorite events. After a long day of absorbing the vast knowledge that the speakers will share, partaking in prize drawings (at least 3-4 each day!), stuffing yourself with a delicious Chicago lunch and visiting with our amazing sponsors, it’s always great to relax, listen to music, play video games, and unwind.
This year will be one of the most amazing receptions of all time. Equal to the Met Gala in grandeur, the who’s who of ClueCon and FreeSWITCH will dazzle you with their presence. With Halloween just around the corner, we even added a costume party to the event. There will be a little bit of something for everybody – board games, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and more.
The most exciting parts of the Gigabit Reception are the Mario Kart tournament, karaoke, and Anthony Minessale’s annual guitar jam session. Whether you’re joining us in person or online this year, you can hang out with fellow community members, jam out, wear a costume, and have a blast at this highly-anticipated networking event!
The registration desk holds a special place in my heart. I first came to ClueCon to hang out with a friend, knowing nothing about open source telecom, and was asked to help out on the first day of the conference. It was love at first sight. The small area that was made up of a metric ton of cardboard boxes was transformed into the beautiful check-in setup that is the first impression for each attendee upon arrival.
Working at the registration desk is fast paced and busy those first couple days, but the best thing about it is meeting all of the attendees we will be spending time with that week, and revisiting with all of the attendees who come back year after year. ClueCon attendees are the glue that holds ClueCon together and they are the reason we have a conference every year. Without them there would be no ClueCon!
When you get off the elevator, you will immediately be surrounded by fellow community members, and have the chance to mingle at the meet and greet at registration. This year we will also have color-coded lanyards you can use to indicate your comfort level for social distancing practices. And of course, there will be plenty of masks and hand sanitizer available to keep everyone safe and healthy.
2. Meet the Creators of FreeSWITCH and the Founders of Cluecon
Anthony Minessale, Brian West, and Michael Jerris are the brilliant minds behind the FreeSWITCH open source project. I have grown very fond of these three. They saw a need in the world, and they set out to fill that need – while making it free to everyone. This mission that led to the creation of FreeSWITCH will always be at the heart of ClueCon.
The three of them met a few years before the first ClueCon, and it was the first ClueCon that would lead to the founding of FreeSWITCH itself. Unlike today’s videoconferencing-centric world, back then humans were drawn to meeting in person. In 2005, they hosted the very first ClueCon, and instead of a well-organized tech conference, it was more like inviting 50 friends to get together. Located at the Best Western near the airport in Chicago, it was not nearly as lavish as it is today. The traditional nightly activities were the same, although the parties included kegs they could not finish (but hey, bonus beer during the conference the next morning… I don’t know if it was a good idea. But I’m sure it was fun.)
Come to ClueCon and meet the founders! When you do, ask them about the SWAT team at the first ClueCon. Stories galore!
1. A chance to see my Binders in person… You never even realized this was missing from your life.
I can go on for hours about all the details that go into planning a ClueCon. From all the logistical organizing with the hotel, to minutiae like labeling the raffle tickets, to drafting schedule after schedule, the almighty binder contains all the information we need to survive the week. Over the years we have learned that not all hotels have the immense capacity for internet that we need; that not all hotels can produce the audio and video levels that we need; that during a global pandemic it is important to have a great virtual platform to use to integrate those who can’t be with us in person. So we have used our own technology and resources to accomplish all of this and more.
These endless details cannot be kept in any one person’s head, so I have about 20 lovely binders that keep all of ClueCon safe in the hands of all the organizers. These binders are my brain and without them I dont think ClueCon would be as successful as it is. Yes, I said it: the binders are the single most important aspect of running a great conference. They help run the conference like a well-oiled machine.
I might have said it before about attendees… but binders are the glue holding ClueCon together.