Monday, September 22, 2008

Grace Hopper and the CONNECT Project

There's a really interesting project happening for the upcoming Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and I'm already glad I signed up. It's called CONNECT and is true to its name in that it is designed to help delegates of the conference connect with each other.

In the project's own words:
CONNECT is a research project designed to explore techie ways to help people make and maintain meaningful relationships from casual encounters. By participating you will be able to record and access connections you make at the conference. You will receive tips, motivation, and support for improving the value of connections you make.
The way they let you record your connections is to set you up with these name tags that I assume have some kind of bar code. Your tag is colour coded to show whether you are an undegrad, grad student, from the industry, and so on. When you sign up, you indicate which kind of people (from the same categories) you are interested in meeting. You can also mark down the areas of computer science you are interested in, including artificial intelligence, computer vision, algorithms, software engineering, and so on. When you meet someone you wanted to connect with, you both have a volunteer scan your name tags. A database tracks the fact that you met, and you will later get an email with the contact information of those people. Pretty cool!

If you can't wait to see who you might find interesting, you can even search the database now.

I think this is a really innovative way to facilitate networking, especially at a techie event. It almost feels like a game, making that first contact less intimidating. It also makes remembering who you met easy. Now you don't have to juggle business cards containing minimal information, wondering who you talked to and what about. With CONNECT, you get full profiles online, including a photo!

I can't wait to see who I'll meet!


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