How To Run A Jam/Getting space


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The first thing you need to announce a Jam is a date and a location.

Send out letters, emails, and phone calls to people you know asking for help looking for a space. Explain to them the purpose of the Jam you're planning as well as whatever timing/location criteria you want to start out with. For example, "sometime during the month of August, for an all-day Saturday event" or "3 consecutive weekday evenings between 3-6 months from now.") Local schools/universities and businesses may let you use their locations outside of normal work hours.


Questions to ask

  • How much does it cost? Some spaces (offices, schools) may be able to let you use their location for free; there's also the option of getting a sponsor to foot the bill for a space you have to pay for. It's usually worth it to try to find a free/donated location.
  • What hours do you need access to the location? Can people work late into the night? (Do you want them to?) Will you have to move everybody out at 6pm? Will you be able to leave your equipment in the room overnight (is it going to be locked up) or do you need to set up and take down each day?
  • Will you need someone from the host institution to be present during the event? To lock/unlock at the start and end of the event? Will such a person be available, and what arrangements (if any) will you need to make for them?
  • How difficult will it be for people to access the location? Is there public transportation nearby? Parking (and how much does it cost)? Will they need to bring an ID to get into the building? Will they have to call somebody for access, or can anyone stroll in? (More access is not necessarily better; sometimes you want the ability to isolate your team from the outside world so there are no distractions. It's a tradeoff you'll have to decide on.)
  • If your Jam is a multi-day event, where will people sleep when they're not hacking? Are there hotels/dorms nearby, and how much do they cost? Can someone set up a couchsurfing network to host out-of-town participants?
  • How easy will it be for people to get food and/or project equipment if they need it during the Jam? Are stores nearby?
  • What can you do at the location? Can you post signs to direct people to your location? Move tables and chairs?

Useful things to have

  • Open-floorplan workrooms with whiteboards/blackboards as well as chairs and tables that can be moved around as people form into teams.
  • A room for presentations and tutorials; a whiteboard/blackboard and projector, as well as row-style seating or the ability to move chairs into row-style seating.
  • A space for food and eating
  • Outdoor/mess space if you're doing a project that warrants it
  • Open high-speed wireless internet connections (if you're having a coding Jam and expect people to bring their own laptops)
  • A computer lab (if you want attendees to be able to work with computers but they won't be bringing their own)
  • Sufficient power outlets to power all the computers and electronic equipment you'll be bringing (extension cords and power strips help too)

Sample Jam configurations

Game Jam Boston

3-day weekend event, many out-of-town attendees. Approximately 40 developers plus 60 student-testers on the final day.

  • Held on a college campus; attendees paid a fee to defray the cost of the location.
  • Dormitory accommodations provided for those who gave enough advance notice, hotel information available for others to make their own bookings.
  • Guest wireless access arranged with IT beforehand. Extension cords and power strips were also borrowed beforehand.
  • 2 main rooms plus lounge space.
    • 1 lecture-style room for presentations/tutorials and food; also used for a room for student-testers to vote in on the final day.
    • 1 open room with blackboards on all walls and many movable tables and chairs; used as main workroom throughout the Jam, plus a demo room on the final day.
    • Sofas and tables in the hallway for lounging and spontaneous small group meetings/discussions.
    • 1 smaller room isolated from the rest of the Jam was used for sound recording very occasionally throughout the Jam.
  • Access to buildings via prox card; had sufficient numbers of students around participating in the Jam that people were able to quickly find someone to let them in the building. Phone numbers of student moderators were given to Jam attendees.

Content Jam Taipei

2-day event held within a larger conference (Wikimania). Jam attendees were a subset of conference attendees. Mix of code and content projects.

  • Open space within the existing conference venue (no cost; arranged space with the conference organizers). Constant flow of non-Jammers walking by (people who were participating in other aspects of the conference).
  • No open wifi access; paid access points that some attendees had already subscribed to.
  • Reconfigurable tables and chairs within the open space used for hacking, demoing, and testing/judging; tutorials/presentations happened spontaneously in the middle of the space.

University Chapter Jam Needham

1-day weekend event held by and for a college chapter, mostly attended by students/faculty but with some local community members coming by.

  • Open space in the dining hall with semi-movable (relocatable, but large) tables and chairs
  • 3 smaller breakout rooms (with walls and doors) for scheduled discussion sessions

Health Jam Seattle

3-day weekend event held at a university campus

  • 1 classroom with blackboards and individual chairs with individual tables attached - this made it difficult for groups to set up collaborative workspaces.
  • No open internet access
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