Cleveland-based programmer Paul Schneider, better known both online and in person as Froggy, first organized Notacon
after trips to HOPE
and other hacker cons gave him the idea; there weren't any gatherings like it in Cleveland at the time, and attending HOPE cost more in money and time than many locals would have been willing to justify for a weekend. Froggy sensed there was a big enough community in Cleveland of hackers, musicians, artists and others to support one, though. So he wrangled space, put out the word, and lined up enough presentations to make it happen. Now, Notacon's been going on for nine years straight (and year 10 is already in the works). In that time, Froggy's developed some thoughts about how to pull off organizing a gathering that involves hundreds of people at a time — and not just any people, but ones with soldering guns, nerf guns, fencing sabers, a lot of electrical equipment, and sometimes (egads!) even children. Froggy is quick to credit the dozens of people — about 20 core staff, and others with smaller but important roles — who also take part in planning and running the conference. Finding hard-working, like-minded souls may be the most universal part of his advice on running a similar event; watch the video interview for more.