My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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conference t-shirts

::laugh:: I just opened Kathy Sierra’s blog where she talks about what conference t-shirts say about how the organization feels about its users. It’s a funny post but what’s funnier is that i happen to be wearing my Webstock t-shirt today. And at Le Web, i rejected multiple vendors’ offers of free t-shirts because of size; each told me that i could sleep in it. (Like Kathy, i don’t wear anything to sleep and an oversized t-shirt is the last thing i want to wear.) There are a handful of tech t-shirts i wear all the time because they are comfy, stylish, and they fit: Blogger, Odeo, Webstock, Chumby (oh do i love the Chumby ones – i even asked for extras). The sad part is that i think that’s it… Anyhow, Kathy’s point rocks and should be emphasized so here’s my blog post emphasizing it. If you want me to celebrate your brand, make a t-shirt that i want to wear. Cool and stylish is one part; a shirt that fits and is comfortable is also key.

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14 comments to conference t-shirts

  • Man or woman, you are going to look like a complete tool if you wear anything that says JavaOne on it. You can print it on a sexy fitted tee, but that still won’t make it sexy.

  • Rich Kilmer

    Awesome…I am wearing my chumby shirt today!

  • Ah, you should have been at ubicomp this year. :)

    When women run the conferences, then everyone’s t-shirts will look good.

  • Ged

    I’ve heard conference t-shirts being ordered in ‘developer sizes’ ie XXL and above. This is mainly because marketers don’t understand the size distribution of their audiences and there is one thing that is worse than having a t-shirt that looks like a kaftan, thats a t-shirt that looks like over-stuffed sausage packing.

  • i’m guessing that a men’s large would probably fit the greatest number of attendees. but the best thing by far is to ask what size t-shirt the attendee wants when they register.

    as long as we don’t have a repeat of the elexa t-shirt debacle *shudder.*

  • Steve

    Well, I’m a nerd and understand little about clothes and fashion. Plus I don’t know what Webstock was. But I know what Java is. So, my guess is that the webstock people, conceiving themselves as hip, opted for fashionable, while the Java people, being nerds, opted for comfortable.

    The shirt on the left is fine for providing an enhanced viewing experience for one’s audience, and is probably the one I would prefer to look at someone in. But to wear myself, or to select somebody to have an interesting conversation with, I’d take baggy every time.

    But that’s just me.

    -Steve

  • well from all of this conversation sprang my wish to finally launch my t-shirt label…

    I have for a long time remodified boring t-shirts from conferences…

    I think it’s great to have this debate.. also because people will only wear things they fell comfortable and pretty in…

  • Webstock is a New Zealand conference that only a few Americans attended. Wearing that shirt has given me space to talk about what’s happening in tech in NZ.

  • Hey, I just had a totally random/scary thought that I figure others have thought about but I wasn’t sure if you had ever written anything about it. Simply: Facebook selling its tagged-photo information, working with facial recognition firms to train software. O.o

  • I attended JavaOne this year, and I remember thinking when I got the t-shirt that I wouldn’t be caught dead in the thing. Anywhere. Despite this, to my surprise, the next day I’d say a good 65% of attendees were proudly sporting their ugly, nerdy JavaOne shirts.

    I think a lot of developer will consider the nerd content of their shirts over the fashion cred it has.

    But I agree with you.

  • Angela

    What I love about my chumby shirt is that it doesn’t say “chumby” anywhere on it. It just has the little sexipus logo. It’s also brown and orange, the screenprint looks like a DIY job and it’s soooft! Much more wearable than any of my other tech-tees.

  • I remember the year the Game Developers Conference started giving out tshirts in women’s sizes. That was pretty much the best I’ve ever felt about women’s status in the gaming industry!

  • You’ve piqued my curiosity. What do these Chumby t-shirts look like? A cursory Google didn’t turn anything up. The results of a Google Image search were interesting, though of no help with respect to the t-shirt.

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