2019 in conferences and workshops

Posted by on Mar 30, 2020 in articles, Design, Events, Public Speaking | No Comments
Eriol at Birmingham Design festival speaking on ‘Design for Crisis’
Eriol at Birmingham Design festival speaking on ‘Design for Crisis’

I’ve been tremendously privileged to tour several talks across the UK, Europe, Canada, North America, Asia and Africa ( I’m looking at you next South America, Oceania & Australia!).

My most widely known and requested talk is ‘’ but quickly gaining bookings are my talks on  and . As well as my two talks currently in progress  and How to build allyship with cis-gendered folks as a marginalised gender.I’d like to highlight the great conferences I’ve spoken at in 2019. I keep a comprehensive list of my speaking engagements on .

“Diverse representations in design and awkward conversations with colleagues”

: London UK, 31st of January 2019

Monki Gras is a fantastic conference deeply and profoundly dedicated to inclusion, integrity and honesty. The quality of talks and attendees at Monki Gras 2019 remains one I look back on with great admiration for both organisational quality and contribution to the tech scene.

Monki Gras promotional image of Eriol

Monki Gras promotional image of Eriol

“Diverse representations in design and awkward conversations with colleagues”

: Montreal Canada, 23rd of March , 2019

Women tech makers in Montreal stood out as an exceptionally organised and curated conference for the diversity of talk subjects and inclusion of deeply technical topics and ones about how our lives adjacent to tech can affect our work. The team in Montreal did outstanding work in organising this event and I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity to speak there.

“UX design & research for OSS technology”

: Belfast Ireland, 12th of April 2019

Though I’m relatively new to the world of OSS, I’m fully-bought into the ethos of OSS being a place where folk interested in the future of tech can carve an alternative path for the world. Conferences that organise locally around the importance and relevancy of OSS will be a subject I defend until my last breath.

“Diverse representations in design and awkward conversations with colleagues”

: Cologne Germany, 23rd to 24th of May 2019

This was the first year of Think about conference and, like with Monki Gras, their dedication to inclusion of a variety of voices and topics around technology and humanity is astounding. They make explicit commitments that are fully backed-up that work on the representation of marginalised folks globally. The talks were some of the most thought-provoking I’ve experienced this year.

Eriol on stage at Think About conference

Eriol on stage at Think About conference

“What are you doing about it? Activism, Hacktivism or Slacktivism?”

, Manchester UK, 29th of May 2019

At Tech for Good Live in Manchester I spoke about the challenging situation between providing open-source digital services for activists globally while striving to maintain a healthy, non-profit tech organisation. All the while, being an activist. Sometimes activism happens within your organisations and workplaces.

Tech for Good Live remains one of the best Tech for Good events and initiatives globally and I always make the effort to travel up from Bristol to attend the monthly meetups.

“Lightning talk: Open Source Design documentation: It’s important”

, Vilnius Lithuania 2nd to 3rd June 2019,

A a person relatively new to OSS, documentation has been something I’m learning is of the upmost importance when your looking at making technology inclusive. Write the docs had a collaborative approach and environment not often seen in the tech industry and some of the best inclusive signage and COC I’ve experienced at an event.

“Designing for Crisis”

, Birmingham UK, 5th to 8th of June 2019

It was a big deal for me to be invited to Birmingham Design Festival to speak about designing for crisis. Birmingham is a centre of technological and design excellence and as a designer that has a tentative relationship with the concept of design being a purely visual medium Birmingham Design Festival broke barriers in advocating design as a way to understand the complexities of humans and channel them into meaningful, well-designed products and tools.

Eriol at Birmingham Design Festival

Eriol at Birmingham Design Festival

“Ushahidi technology tools for promoting peace and values education”

, Nur Sultan/Astana, Kahzakstan 17th to the 19th of June 2019

Central Asia is stunning and complex. Spending time with organisations working on peace activities was a valuable gift I will not soon forget. Peace Technology Exchange offers the opportunity for people and organisations working directly on the ground with people at risk of peace disruptions access to technologists to help them in their work.

“Diverse representations in design and awkward conversations with colleagues”

, Bristol UK, 21st of June 2019

Collaborate conference was the conference this year that did not hold back with the hard topics for designers and technologist. The speakers curated at this conference delivered some of the most impactful topics without coddling the audience and it was an inspiration to be a part of. I have hope that conferences like this will continue to push at the comfort zones that technologist and designs operate in for the greater good.

Eriol on stage at Collaborate conference

“Diverse representations in design and awkward conversations with colleagues”

, Nottingham UK, 22nd of June 2019

Conferences like Margins exist in a space that needs to be protected. Margins is offering real stories, practical experiences and skills in a peer-led approach that is simultaneously accessible and meaningful. You will make friends here, find support, cry and share your hardships and joys of existing as a marginalised person in technology.

“Diverse representations in design and awkward conversations with colleagues”

, Darmstadt Germany, 10th of July 2019

I love speaking with technology and design students. Being able to share anything that can be of use to the generations of technologists in the future is something to be treasured and treated with respect. After my talk, the students at Darmstadt showed me their projects looking into the future of design and it’s responsibility and role. I have renewed hope for ethical technology because of this.

“Designing for Crisis” and “Open Source Design with Humanitarian tools”

, Bucherest Romania, 26th to 30th of August 2019

FOSS4G is a humbling experience for somebody working in a function such as design like myself. Hearing the folks working in GIS OSS push how we as human view geography and data is an education I’m blessed to have access to. To be able to contribute back in some way to how design works in this sector is a privilege.

Eriol at FOSS4G

Eriol at FOSS4G

“Read the crowd: Visual design in Humanitarian tech”

, Copenhagen Denmark, 18th to 19th of September 2019

At design matters 2019 the theme track I spoke on was design and activism. I spoke about three different projects from Ushahidi, Uchaguzi’s visual branding that was inspired by East African fabrics and printing, Data collection features for HIV/AIDs medical research and designing MVP tech for crisis resilience.

Design Matters is an audience that typically makes me nervous. As a ‘problem-solving’, tech-focused designer, I don’t often lean towards aesthetics and visuals. Design Matters is offering a conference that has a great variation of speaker and attendees from gaming interaction to humanitarian causes. What I do think about often, is how humanitarian projects ‘wow’ factor is in the impact and not the visuals which can be complicated standing up against highly creative companies and practitioners.

Wide shot of the stage at Design Matters

Wide shot of the stage at Design Matters

“Diverse representations in design and awkward conversations with colleagues”

, London, UK, 25th of September 2019

Speaking at MongoDB London was a deeply useful experience for me. I initially felt that speaking at such a specific, technical/technology conference would not go well. Turns out that alongside the technical talk’s attendees, both need and want to hear about broader, social and ethical subjects within tech.

I had some of the most encouraging and meaningful conversations post-talk at MongoDB London to which I’m hugely humbled and grateful for.

Eriol at MongoDB trans and women coders lounge

“Diverse representations in design and awkward conversations with colleagues”

, Milan Italy, 1st to 2nd of October 2019

Intersection conference was a multi-track conference covering some deeply interesting and useful topics for designers. Including some fantastic workshops that I was able to drop into the day before the conference.

Again I had some fantastic conversations about cultural differences around diversity in Italy, including the difficulties when a language is gendered by default and how difficult folks find evolving language to be inclusive of gender-neutral terms.

“Designing for Crisis”, “Diversity in tech panel” and “Open Design with Humanitarian open source software”

, Raleigh NC USA, 13th to 15th of October 2019

My very first two-person talk with designer . We spoke in detail about how we approached a new MVP tool ‘’ built at Ushahidi, where we included in-depth UX research throughout the build process culminating in a field study in Nairobi.

I also did a panel on diversity and a lightning talk on  and .

Eriol at All Thing Open speaking about Open Design

Eriol at All Thing Open speaking about Open Design

“Designing Tech Tools for Crisis & Natural Disaster Relief in Developed and Developing Countries”

, London UK, 24th to 27th of October 2019

At Mozilla Festival, 2019,  and I delivered a talk around the Ushahidi MVP ‘’ that had interactive elements to it. Mozilla Festival embraces a different kind of talk/session that aims to actively involve audience members in the subject matter. We presented our own findings around using tech within crisis scenarios and invited the audience to add, augment and change details from their own, international and unique experiences thus broadening our insights on the tool and on crisis globally.

“Designing Tech Tools for Crisis & Natural Disaster Relief in Developed and Developing Countries” and the panel “Social Media and Democracy”

, Bath UK, 22nd to 26th of October 2019

The third time giving the talk about designing for crisis. This is an endlessly fascinating topic for me with so much insight that other technologist and designer can learn from. I always dedicate myself to giving talks that offer information, knowledge or understanding not commonly found in design and technologies every day.

Bath digital festival remains one of my favourite events. The diversity of topic and dedication to the UK and South West’s technology scene is inspirational.

You can also listen to the panel on the !

Eriol at Bath Digital Festival

Eriol at Bath Digital Festival

Panel Chair for “What is designs role?”

, Cheltenham UK, 2nd of November 2019

Cheltenham Design festival was my first time chairing a panel as opposed to being on a panel! It was challenging to prep questions both around the topic and that connected the diverse speakers on stage. When chairing a panel, I believe it’s the responsibility of the chair to link the topic and make sure each panelist is heard as well as invite and give opportunities for the audience to interact.

Eriol chairing the panel at Cheltenham Design Festival

Eriol chairing the panel at Cheltenham Design Festival

Panel on “Accessibility: Create a product that cares”

, Bristol UK, 6th of November 2019

Speaking on panels is sometimes tricky. As someone who represents the non-male, non-cis-gendered part of the population I often feel like it’s a responsibility to ensure that diverse voices are heard in the tech community. I was invited to speak alongside a panel of excellent technologists about how to make products accessible in not just technical ways, but in the ways we represent and include others.

Eriol at the Smart Cookies panel

Eriol at the Smart Cookies panel

“Design for Crisis” and “Open Design with Humanitarian tech tools for Kerala floods”

 2019, Bangalore India, 12th to 16th of November 2019

Design UP! was a fantastic view into the design scene in India for me. I was able to connect with and work alongside some truly dedicated and inspiring designers with the Open Design workshop myself and  delivered. 5 groups created design solutions to some of  most challenging features in response to the Kerala floods in an open-source way. Truly a design conference to watch.

Eriol and Thomas at Design UP’s Open Design workshop

Eriol and Thomas at Design UP’s Open Design workshop

“Open Design with Humanitarian tech tools for Taiwan Typhoons” and “Open Design: Bringing design to Open Source Software”

, Taipei Taiwan, 30th November to 1st December 2019

Open Up Global Summit like Design UP was a deep look into how designers and technologist in East Asia relate to and work with open source tools and practices. Working with Open Design in Taipei was again, an opening of my own eyes to the inherent benefits of working globally on design challenges and problems, cutting through the barriers that countries and language can place upon us. Open Up is doing utterly fantastic work with tech communities in Taiwan (and beyond).

I was also privileged to have  as part of this Open Design workshop. Joyann was one of the behind the scenes people who made the Open Design project successful and getting to see her skills in social media, content creation and event delivery up close was amazing.

Eriol at Open Up global summits Open Design workshop

Eriol at Open Up global summits Open Design workshop

“Open Design: Bringing design to Open Source Software”

, Tokyo Japan, 17th of December 2019

To finish out 2019 I was overjoyed to offer a talk around Open Design to the Ladies that UX Tokyo community. I believe that gatherings of technologist both large and small are vital to the tech and design community and being present at global meetups as well as conferences is part of my responsibility as a designer who tries to operate without borders to share, understand and offer what I can to my design and tech community, whether it’s local or in the opposite timezone.

Eriol at Ladies that UX Tokyo

Eriol at Ladies that UX Tokyo

Isooko: Peace Building and tech 2018–2020 EU funded project

Alongside these speaking engagements, I was able to work on two field studies at Ushahidi. One looking at how communities communicate and organise In a crisis and one on how people who have experienced violence and conflict use technology to spread peace.

Eriol with Polycom Women at Isooko workshops in Nairobi Kenya

Eriol with Polycom Women at Isooko workshops in Nairobi Kenya

It’s now well into 2020 and I need to do a post for the conference of 2020! My immense gratitude and thanks to those events that allowed space on their stag for me to talk about Diversity, inclusion, Design, Crisis response, Building better humanitarian tech tools, bringing designer into Open Source through Open Design and working with peacebuilding efforts globally.

I can’t wait to see what joys and opportunities 2020 bring. Don’t forget you can reach out to me to speak at meetups, events and conferences and to build and deliver design workings around humanitarian tech problems.

Eriol x