It's hard to believe that in 2014, we still see all-male panels at digital conferences (and the irritated "where are the women" tweets that inevitably follow). So props to FITC Toronto (which stands for "future, innovation, technology, creativity," FYI) for wanting women in the digital/tech space well-represented at their April conference and offering bursaries to those who want to attend. The process is simple: write a blog post, shoot a video, code a web page, or otherwise express why you want to attend FITC in a creative way, submit your work, and if FITC approves, they'll comp your ticket.
Here are 5 reasons why I want to go this year:
1. It's not just another social media/marketing conference
While I've attended some amazing digital conferences, some of them feature the same old topics and speakers, leading to a sort of Groundhog Day-esque feeling. Browsing the FITC website, I see sessions devoted to everything from design and illustration to coding and gaming — something to satisfy the nerd in all of us.
2. There's an emphasis on creativity
Sometimes when you're bogged down by engagement metrics and KPI reports, you fear losing your creative edge. Being in a room full of creative people awakens a different part of my brain. And people who actually make a living off their wildly creative ideas are just exciting to be around, like unicorns.
3. It just sounds awesome
Almost every digital marketer I've ever met has asked me "Have you ever gone to FITC?" in hushed tones. It has this epic, legendary quality to it. And looking at the lineup of featured speakers, it's not hard to see why. I'd love to see the guy who won two Grammys for designing packages for Talking Heads and Brian Eno & David Byrne and the Director of Digital Initiatives for the Tribeca Film Institute.
4. I believe in continuous learning
My degree is in journalism, but I wasn't satisfied with just being a writer/editor. Over the past five years I've developed my skills in digital communications and marketing, and that's strictly through courses in my spare time, reading countless blog posts, following key people on Twitter, and listening to countless talks and panels. I never want to stop learning.
Also, I'm finding that increasingly it's not enough to just be one thing. You can't just be good at social media — you need to know about design, web programming, mobile, et cetera. Taking part in FITC would bring me up to speed on where I should focus my learning efforts.
5. I want to be inspired by others
I work with an awesome team of creative people at APEX Public Relations. An APEX brainstorm is one of my favourite things; I'm always blown away by the ideas my coworkers generate. But it always helps to step outside of your core team and be inspired by others. People from other companies and agencies bring other case studies and points of view, and by sharing our experiences, we're only helping each other be better at our jobs.
Amanda Factor partly threw in the Groundhog Day reference as a tribute to Harold Ramis. Follow her on Twitter.