Dust or Magic Children’s AppFest

  • About the Annual Children’s App Developer Huddle: AKA “AppFest”


    Not to be confused with “AppCamp.” This is the warmup act for AppCamp — the 2 day meeting at Asilomar. 

    THE BACK STORY: We’ve now hosted six Dust or Magic AppCamps on the west coast, but the cost to attend this two-day sleepover is out of reach for many small app publishers.

    In addition, many children’s app publishers have children (who would’a figured) which means they’re double-busy, broke, and the children are less-than-welcome when adults want to concentrate. But children are at the core of our work. It is the child’s finger that determines if an app lives or dies.

    We think that it’s important to start an intense meeting about children’s apps with an immersion in “child reality.”

    That’s why we started the Dust or Magic Children’s AppFest. AppFest will be the day before AppCamp in a developer-friendly place known as the co.lab.   The space can comfortably hold 80 adults (not counting kids), however you must register in advance in order to get in. Here are the details:

    Archived content below:

    WHEN: The 7th Annual Children’s AppFest took place Saturday, May 21 2016  from 3 – 6 PM

    WHERE: Co.lab, 699 8th Street San Francisco, CA. Co.lab is an incubator where many successful children’s technology publishers have started.

    appfest-westWHO:  AppFest is a cooperative effort between the SVKAG (Silicon Valley Kids Apps Group), Moms With Apps, Co.Lab and CTR/Dust or Magic. Many people helped to make this happen, especially Josh Garratt, Gabriel Adauto, Esteban Sosnik, Randy Weiner, Daren Carstens, Michael Colombo and Lorraine Akemann.

    HOW IT WORKS: This is less of a formal “conference” with panels and experts who talk at you. Instead, we think of it as a huddle.

    People who want to set up a demo station, take a balloon, write the name of a title and put out a tablet.  You might want to have business cards or a one page handout with some free download codes, so people can learn more about your work. This is an excellent place to get discovered, as several of the Dust or Magic speakers will be in the audience.

    People (and kids) who want to get a demo  look for balloons. We’ll have snacks and lots of apps; developmentally appropriate for both children and adults. Parents are responsible for their kids; and remember we are guests in this space; so help take care of it.

    Throughout the day, we’ll have spotlight or demos in the conference room, where Dust or Magic AppCamp presenters can  preview their talks.

    The corporate logo of Zynga Inc, the social network game development company, is shown at its headquarters in San Francisco


    3:00 Demo Stations
    Open, free explorations of apps.

    4:00  Demo Theater
    If you want to give a demonstration, sign up on the chart (first come, first served; sign up on site). Space may be limited.

    5:00 Mini Talks
    Ten minute AppCamp Preview talks by Mark Schlichting  (Noodleworks) and Valerie Touze (Edoki).
    Space may be limited.

    5:30  Hot Topics
    An informal panel to discuss the topics that are shaping how children’s apps are made and sold. This will be the start of the conversations that will continue tomorrow at Asilomar.

    6:00 Conclusion
    Please help us clean up.


    • By participating, you agree to allow you and your child to be photographed or videotaped.

    • This event is $12 per adult ($free for children or registered AppCamp participants) space is limited, on a first-come, first-served basis.

    TO REGISTER: You must register in advance to get into the building (including children).  Use this form. 

  • 2018 Events

    Masterclass • Mar. 25, Bologna, Italy • Register
    AppCamp • Jun. 1-3, Asilomar, CA • Register
    Highlights Retreat • Boyds Mills, PA
    Institute • Nov. 4-6, Lambertville, NJ • Register

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  • Conference testimonials


    • laserpinters

      Sanj KharbandaVP Digital Strategy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Dust or Magic Hurricane Edition

      "Unique, inspiring, eye-opening. I would recommend anyone involved in the interactive space for kids to attend at least one. Thank you to everyone for sharing and being an inspiration."

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      Roby JohnCEO, TapToLearn, Dust or Magic Hurricane Edition

      "Thanks for a great first Dust or Magic. Made it totally worth flying all the way in from Mumbai."

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      Valerie ConnellVP Product & Market Strategy, The Waterford Institute, Dust or Magic 2010

      "Top Notch conference with A-list attendees - a pleasure to be included with the best of the best!"

    • katewilson200

      Kate WilsonFounder & Managing Director, Nosy Crow, Dust or Magic 2011

      "Relevant, invigorating and mind expanding: a great event. Warren's energetic, warm and informal style of communication and facilitation is key."

    • SONY DSC

      Krista MarksDust or Magic 2011

      "The best part is the inspiration that comes from being with a group of like minded, passionate, talented humans."

    • Jens Peter de Pedro

      Jens Peter de PedroPlay Designer, Toca Boca, Dust or Magic Hurricane Edition

      "If you are in Children's Interactive Media it's like coming to Church. You got to go for spiritual reasons. And it's only once a year!"

    • Scott_Traylor_200x200

      Scott TraylorPresident, 360KID, DM '13 Institute

      "Dust or Magic Fall is a must attend event to help increase chances of making successful children's new media products."

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      Charity GerbrandtCreative Lead, Disney Club Penguin, DM Institute '13

      "So great to share with like-minded people in a low pressure, no drama environment. Great size, space and leadership."

    • Kimberley SorensonThe Waterford Institute, Dust or Magic Highlights Foundation 2015

      "A wonderful opportunity to get down and dirty with a lot of different voices in a protected space. Inspiring + energizing on all conceivable levels -- many many thanks."

    • JCC

      Jayne ClarePresident, Teachers With Apps, Dust or Magic Highlights 2015

      "Leaving with a wealth of new knowledge, friends, ideas and inspiration!"

    • Erin - bio pic

      Erin ReillyCreative Director, Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC, Dust or Magic eBook Retreat 2013

      "This was just the retreat I needed to learn and to be inspired by others." 

    • Scott_Traylor_200x200

      Scott TraylorPresident, 360KID, DM 2002-2010

      "Come for toys, stay for friendship; leave with knowledge."

    • jlodahl

      Jesper LodahlCEO, SmartTots, Dust or Magic Hurricane Edition

      "Great crowd, great minds, great learning experience."

    • Hans WagnerOwner, Computer Explorers, Dust or Magic 2014

      "Just soaked in all of it. Great environment!"

    • Megan SmithSenior Designer, Interactive Media, Highlights for Children, Dust or Magic 2014

      "Warren and Daren really made everyone feel relevant and comfortable. Perfect balance of healthy criticism and ideas for growth."

    • aleen

      Aleen SteinCEO, Organa, Dust or Magic 2014

      "Even though I'm not making apps right now, exciting and relevant to my life."

    • Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 4.03.01 PM

      Lorraine AkemannMoms With Apps

      While there is no shortage of conferences on kids and tech, Dust or Magic stands out in the crowd. This might be because attendees are required to leave their egos at home, or cast them into the ocean until the sessions are finished.