October 17-18, Minneapolis, MN

Welcome to SRCCON! An attendee guide

SRCCON is unlike a lot of other conferences. It’s highly participatory, and it’s designed to help you share your skills and connect with a bunch of folks who are likely working through similar challenges and questions.

We’re regular conference attendees too, and we know there can be a TON to think about as you’re packing up for travel or taking part at an event for the first time. We hope this guide answers most of your questions, but if we’re missing one, let us know and we’ll add it!

If you’re looking for lodging and other logistics info, you’ll find it right here. To learn more about getting the most out of SRCCON, please read on!

In this guide

What’s the SRCCON story?

SRCCON is a hands-on conference, full of conversations and workshops focused on the practical challenges that news technology and data teams encounter every day. We say SRCCON like “Source-con” (where the “SRC” stands for “Source” as in “view source”).

Our in-person SRCCON events bring together hundreds of designers, developers, data analysts, editors, and other journalists for two days of collaborative sessions, group meals, and activities. SRCCON is produced by OpenNews, where we work to help people strengthen relationships across organizations and build a more equitable future for journalism.

When SRCCON began in 2014, we thought it would be almost entirely technical sessions, but it turned out that what this community really needed space to talk about is how we work. Each year, we’ve built a SRCCON schedule that reflects the range of interests of this community, which still include plenty of technical sessions and workshops, but also more and more sessions about workplace culture, management, diversity and inclusion, and the process of how technical work happens in newsrooms.

When and where is SRCCON?

This year we’re in Minneapolis on October 17-18 at the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota. We’re so excited to be in person again for the first time since 2019!

How much time should I allow for traveling to SRCCON?

Most people arrive Monday evening in order to get to SRCCON bright and early on Tuesday morning. The venue is about 40 minutes from the airport on transit or by cab (depending on traffic).

When people head home varies depending on flight times to their home city and other responsibilities. Some folks leave Wednesday night after SRCCON closes, while others leave sometime on Thursday.

What do I need to pack?

In addition to your usual trip prep, feel free to bring things you’d love to share with other people at SRCCON! People often pack books to swap, stickers to hand out, or favorite snacks or teas to share a taste of home with other attendees. We have an etherpad just for folks to talk about their plans.

People also often bring favorite games to play together Tuesday after dinner—there’s a sign-up doc right here where folks are talking about those plans, too!

What is the dress code?

The way we’ve described it in the past is that at SRCCON, people might wear their favorite hoodie. Meaning, it’s pretty casual. OpenNews staff will literally all be in T-shirts (so you can find us for safety reasons!), but we hope that gives you a sense of things. If you’re more comfortable in dressier clothes or just want to show off something new, you should go for it! You’ll see a wide range of styles at SRCCON. We know that clothing selection can be a really tricky thing to navigate though, so if there’s anything we can do to help you feel more comfortable, just let us know.

Do people do any homework before they arrive?

It’s certainly possible, but not required by any means. You’re coming to SRCCON because you’ve been doing work in news organizations or around journalism, and that makes you curious about how we can work together better. You already have the skills and experiences that will be valuable in your conversations at SRCCON.

Some sessions might encourage people to do a bit of reading or look at some software before taking part—there are notes docs linked from each session on the schedule where facilitators can share anything they want you to know.

Do you want my pictures?

We love SRCCON photos! If you take pictures during the conference (following the guidelines below), feel free to tag us on social media (we’re @srccon & @opennews on various platforms, and we’ll be using the hashtag #SRCCON2023). You can also email them right to us. We love sharing your photos when we talk about SRCCON!

What happens at the opening to SRCCON?

Most everyone arrives on time for SRCCON for some coffee or tea and quick introduction to the event and each other. We usually take a quick “turn to your neighbor and say hello” moment that is quite chaotic and loud, but a lot of fun. SRCCON is a great place to catch up with old friends, but we like to create little opportunities like the group welcome to meet a new person in a slightly structured, low-stakes way. (Some introvert-friendly structured socializing!)

What is the COVID policy at SRCCON?

At SRCCON, we prioritize caring for each other. One way we’ll do that this year is by masking throughout the conference while indoors and not actively eating, drinking, or facilitating. We’re excited to be back at our longtime SRCCON venue, but it’s a spot without windows that open or outdoor session spaces. Given that our options for improved air flow are limited, we’ve decided to use a tool we’ve all gotten very familiar with: masks!

We will be modeling our COVID safety policies largely off of the PyCon 2023 policies, which means we will be requiring masking while indoors throughout the conference. We’ll have ample masks available, and encourage participants to bring their preferred N95, KN95, or similar masks as well. Exceptions to masking indoors include while consuming food, for speakers when presenting, and when necessary to communicate with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing.

We also strongly encourage all participants to be up to date on their vaccinations.

Wait, why is my org not on my name tag?

Too many of us have had the conference experience of someone looking at our name tag and then looking right through us and walking away, simply because they don’t recognize our organization or think it’s worth their time. (Or, the reverse, being swarmed with irrelevant questions by being associated with a “big name” organization.)

No organization name on your name tag? Now you can just say hello!

What are these lanyard colors all about?

Inspired by AdaCamps, we adopted lanyards of different colors for photo privacy. Not everyone is comfortable having their picture taken, and lanyards make it super easy to give or not give consent for photos. We’ll have a sign at registration listing what the different colors stand for, but in short, if a person has a red lanyard, don’t take their photo.

What are the sessions like?

SRCCON is different than many other conferences you may have attended. It’s a highly participatory event: no panels on a stage or speakers running through slides. You might notice that we always refer to facilitators or session leaders, never speakers or presenters, because when you run a session at SRCCON, you’re in a room with dozens of other smart people with an opportunity to compare notes, share skills, and help everyone learn from each other.

We created SRCCON with a few principles in mind that lay the groundwork for our program as a whole:

Our sessions inhabit these values in different ways, through structured discussions and problem-solving groups; peer-to-peer workshops; even games, drawing, or field trips. We avoid traditional lectures and classroom-style trainings, but we welcome your creativity across a range of hands-on and collaborative session styles.

What do people expect me to do in the sessions?

Participate! To be clear, that can take many forms, and speaking isn’t the only, primary, or even best way to participate. Many sessions include small-group breakouts where you’ll have a brief conversation with a handful of other attendees. So in that group you might take notes, monitor the time, help facilitate the conversation—all participation roles in addition to any active listening or speaking you may do. Other sessions can involve moving around the room (as you are able), taking part in a game, drawing, learning a skill, or collaborating on a draft of an idea or prototype.

Each session will be led by a facilitator or two or three who will guide participants through the session and let you know what to expect. If they describe an agenda that doesn’t work for you, no worries, you can totally leave and try out a different session. SRCCON doesn’t quite operate under the “rule of two feet” that some unconferences do, where people very frequently walk into and out of sessions, but facilitators do understand that people may leave or enter their sessions at any times and prepare for this.

Where is the conference schedule?

Here’s the SRCCON schedule—you can even mark sessions you want to attend and build your own custom program. We’ll also post session names outside each room during the conference.

How will I find the sessions?

Once you pick up your conference badge at SRCCON, flip it over and you’ll see a map of the space. There will also be ample signage around the venue.

Who is the person with the futuristic keyboard?

That’s our stenographer! Norma Miller from the White Coat Captioning crew will be live transcribing a portion of the SRCCON sessions. You’ll see a note on the SRCCON schedule about which sessions will be transcribed. We offer transcription as an accessibility aid, plus it’s just really cool. Please speak up loudly in large group conversations so the stenographers can hear you. If you’d like a comment to be off the record, just say so and they will not record it.

What are the meals like?

Meals are usually buffet style, with a variety of tasty options to meet all dietary needs (just be sure to let us know when you register or email us if anything changed). Meals are a communal experience at SRCCON. With folks gathering around tables to chat, sometimes to host entire sessions, and enjoy some camaraderie. Yes, sometimes folks catch up on work email as well, but there’s a lot of chatting happening too. We provide lunch both days of SRCCON as well as dinner on Tuesday night, and snack breaks on both days so you never have to worry about finding sufficient energy to keep your brain moving.

What are the non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drink options like?

Not every SRCCON participant is into coffee or beer culture, so we make sure there’s plenty of tea and uncaffeinated drinks at the coffee station and during meals. In the evening, we provide a range of non-alcoholic drink options.

What is this Tuesday evening thing all about?

We also want to make sure you get a chance to connect with everyone at SRCCON about the things you love to do in your free time, not just what you work on during the day. Our Tuesday night program is all about the “life” side of the work-life balance, and we’ll spread throughout the conference venue for board games and lightning talks, get outside for field trips, and pull together hobby workshops and interesting conversations.

What am I supposed to do for 30 minutes in between every session?

You have a bunch of options. You could certainly chat with a stranger who may be thinking exactly the same thing. You could make a(nother) cup of coffee or tea. You could check out the lobby area. You could go for a walk outside in the park in front of the building. You should use that time—as all other time at SRCCON—in the way that best meets your needs. We do our best to provide numerous options so that one of them will be what you need at the time. Extra-long breaks mean you don’t have to choose between taking care of your needs or finishing up an interesting conversation with someone else—you have plenty of time for both before you head off to your next session.

What happens if I feel harassed or unsafe?

You are supported by the SRCCON code of conduct, which is backed by a detailed action plan. If you feel harassed, unsafe, or concerned about something happening to you or that you see happening to someone else, you can call us or flag down a staff person or volunteer in a color-coded SRCCON shirt.

What happens if I have a question or need a band-aid, pain reliever, or safety pin?

You can ask a volunteer or staff person who you see walking around in a color-coded shirt, and there will also always be someone back at the registration desk as well.

I have non-conference work to do! Help!

We understand. Given the participatory nature of SRCCON sessions, it’s not a good idea to try to multi-task in the session itself. But you can find space throughout the venue for quiet work—there is a lobby area with a bunch of chairs by a fire, there is a wide expansive park in front of the buildings, and there’s ample hallway space for huddling. We’ll also have a quiet workspace set aside in the Gateway Room on the 1st floor.

What happens in the closing to SRCCON?

We all gather as a group once last time for a brief reflection and closing chat. After we officially close out the conference, it’s a great chance to have that last conversation with someone you’ve been trying to connect with over the prior two days or find buddies for dinner that evening.

What happens once SRCCON is over?

After catching our breath, we’ll send out a survey to learn more about your experience and any adjustments it’d be helpful for us to make in the future. We’d also love to hear about anything that comes out of your experience at SRCCON, whether that be from sessions, conversations, ideas that SRCCON sparks. You’ll see a bunch of coverage on Source from sessions and themes that arose in discussions. In addition, we love it when SRCCON lives on after the event–some facilitators have brought their sessions forward to ONA, Mozilla Festival, NICAR, and other events. Some folks who met at SRCCON one year, pitch a session together the next year, or build from their experience with NICAR Conversations or personal blog posts.

Who makes this whole SRCCON thing happen?

SRCCON is organized by the OpenNews team. We started SRCCON in 2014 because we saw that the existing slate of (so many) journalism conferences wasn’t serving all the needs of the most tech-oriented folks in the journalism community. Many news nerds teach numerous workshops at NICAR, but don’t always get a chance to learn from their peers or compare notes about their work.

The structure and feel of SRCCON were inspired by the organizing team’s experience as speakers, volunteers, organizers, and attendees of many, many tech and journalism conferences. We tried to create the type of event we’d like to attend. We borrowed ideas for session structure from the Mozilla Festival and for accessibility and inclusivity from AdaCamp. And in the great open-source spirit, we’ve documented our efforts, including our work creating a Code of Conduct, which has gone on to inspire several other journalism conferences.

SRCCON embodies the values of OpenNews: we believe a diverse community of peers working, learning, and solving problems together can create the stronger, more representative ecosystem that journalism needs to thrive. At SRCCON, we get to spend two days together in person with that community.

I have another question, how can I find out more?

Feel free to email us, or you can even submit a pull request on this page with your question.