AppCamp 2015 Agenda

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    Creativity thrives on structure. Dust or Magic agendas provide a shell within which we pour the latest apps, demos and talks from around the world; all in a unique setting designed to maximize new ideas in minimal time — about 36 hours spread over three days. We work hard to remove distractions so you can focus on factors associated with “magic” aka child engagement. Come prepared to see new products, talk to young children, debate and share your own definition of magic.  

    WHAT TO BRING: Pack relaxed, casual clothing (layers are best) and arrive well rested with charged batteries. Remember that AppCamp is an academic exercise in design and trends.

    NO SELLING: Dust or Magic is self funded and strictly independent, with no affiliation with Apple, Google, sponsors. Turn off your “selling mode” and turn on your “sharing mode.” We reserve a table where you can share a flyers, white papers, flyers or business cards, or information about an app or a new book. This is a free exchange area. Plan on 80 copies. If you plan on doing a 5 minute demo, read this.

    CHILDREN’S APPFEST IN SAN FRANCISCO:  This event is designed for small, cash-strapped publishers who can’t afford the time or money to come to AppCamp. Learn more about the Children’s AppFest in San Francisco on Saturday May 30 (Co.lab,  650 Townsend Street, Suite 225, San Francisco, CA 94103). Tickets are $20 each, free for registered Dust or Magic AppCamp attendees), and children are welcome (no cost for kids).


    Sunday May 31, 2015

    1:00 Check in to your room (Phoebe Snow Social Hall)
    3:00 Check in to Dust or Magic (Fred Farr Forum)
    Find Barbara Chase to pick up your materials. It will contain your name tag, handouts and so on. Fred Farr Forum is Asilomar’s second biggest meeting space; locate in the wooded area of the Asilomar.

    5:00 Essential Knowledge: Key examples of dust and magic from 2015  (In Fred Farr)

    We’ll set the stage for our next 36 hours together, so all the presenters can contextualize their talks. We’ll begin by naming the key trend setting apps; including lessons learned from judging the 2015 KAPi prize and the BolognaRagazzi Digital Award. These will include:

    • The “flipped app” concept — perhaps the fastest way to magic, and why something so simple can make such a big difference. .
    • State of the “non-iOS.” Any better than last year?
    • Software news: nominations with discussion for Magic and Dust of 2015 — Unity and other essential tools, examples of innovation and excellence; biggest train wrecks — what went wrong, why and how to learn from other people’s mistakes.
    • Hardware news: larger tablets, wearables, watches and augmented reality (especially Oculus 3 and Google cardboard). How interactive media is moving beyond the touch screen.
    • Market news: libraries, schools and the international POV (with a quick update from the Breteau Foundation).


    6:00 PM Dinner

    Welcome to AppCamp 6  by Warren Buckleitner and Daren Carstens

    DorM2013 (19 of 57)

    7:40 Pacific Beach (mandatory for New Yorkers).

    8:00 Annual State of the Children’s App Panel  (In Fred Farr)

    Don’t miss this amazing conversation as we review 2015 with some of the best brains in the world. We’ll have an unstructured conversation about ROI, hardware, watches, augmented reality goggles, localization tips, Google Play, app store tricks and trends.

    The “State of the Children’s App” Panel for 2015 will feature Harley BaldwinPierre Abel, Michel KripalaniMark SchlichtingDan Russell-Pinson, Bjørn JeffereyJohn Cromie and Barry O’Neill; and will be moderated by Warren Buckleitner and Scott Traylor.

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    9:00 In the Chapel With Björn.  Few people connect the dots of the children’s app space better than the leader of Toca Boca, Björn Jefferey.

    He’ll be speaking in one of the most beautiful settings in the world: the wood and glass Chapel at Asilomar (where Max Whitby spoke two years before).

    This time the topic will be “A Toca Deep Dive: How Toca Boca Came to Be and Where It Is Headed Next” although this might change.  His talk will be followed by a free-form discussion on the state of the app.

    9:30 Demos & Discussion



    Monday June 1, 2015

    7:00-8:15  am Breakfast Buffet (dining hall)

    8:30 Critics Panel. Updated for 2016. An open invitation to any published children’s app reviewer to come and tell us what 5 stars looks like. 

    • How to submit products for review
    • What do you do when you get a bad rating?
    • Nice touches — Concrete examples of noteworthy design techniques.

    Michel Kripalani

    Michel Kripalani is the founder of Oceanhouse Media. He’s responsible for “Green Eggs and Ham” on your iPad.

    9:30 Michel Kripalani, Oceanhouse Media. Five Stars or No Stars: Tips for Young Interactive Designers

    No one studio has done more to change the modern definition of “eBook”, through the careful adaptation of traditional children’s classics (including Dr. Seuss) for modern tablets. Michel doesn’t waste words when it comes to making quality, and while he may look like he’s 25, he’s been doing this for a very long time. Don’t miss this talk.

    10:15 Nice Touch — 60 second demos. An informal exploration with show and tell of some of the latest HCI “best practice” applied to multi-touch settings for children (and adults).

    1. Daren Carstens — A pep talk for early stage app designers. Daren Carstens is a Chicago-based veteran illustrator/designer/mathematician who has also left an indelible mark on Dust or Magic over the years. His most recent app shows what he’s learned.
    2. Harley Baldwin, Schell Games — Report from Independence Rock. The journey thus far, whether certain routes were brash, foolhardy, or both, and a preview of routes ahead. Harley Baldwin is the VP of Design at Schell Games of Pittsburgh PA, (the home of Jesse Schell).
    12:00 Lunch
    Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 12.05.29 PM1:00  Case Study: The Wild and Crazy Story of My Very Hungry Caterpillar by Emmet O’Neill with commentary from Barry O’Neill.

    Good art + legacy + marketing + good interactive design = magic, and $. Of the 193 entries of the 2015 BolognaRagazzi Digital Award, just one was selected…. an amazing accomplishment considering the crowded field. Come and learn the attributes of magic that led to the victory. Hint: it’s not that complicated.

    2:00 Dust…. What goes wrong and why? Demonstrations of one reviewer’s opinion of low rated products, and the most common errors (aka “see seven kisses of death“) when designing children’s interactive media. This is your chance to learn from someone else’s mistakes.

    3:00 Demos

    3:30 How to make an app appeal to an African home, library or classroom, with Mona EweesInstructional Specialist at the Breteau Foundation

    DorM2013 (24 of 57)

    Dan Russell-Pinson will explain how he made “Off the Rails”

    4:00 Case studies  (15 minutes each, plus Q & A)
    1. Making Off the Rails by Dan Russell-Pinson
    2. Making Crazy Gears by Sara Vitale of Seven Academy
    6:00-7:30 Dinner

    7:40 Group photo (optional)

    7:50 Marshmallow Roast, Beach


    Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Touch Press

    John Cromie is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Touch Press. He works closely with two prior Dust or Magic speakers: Theo Gray and Max Whitby.

    Monday Evening

    8:30  “AppCraft” by John Cromie of TouchPress.

    You’ve heard of Disney Animated and The Elements… now meet the head programmer.  See John’s talk at last year’s Bologna Masterclass where he gave some ideas on the process of bringing crisp images to the screen.

    9:30 Discussion and demos

    10-Midnight Free play


    Tuesday, June 2, 2015

    Room checkout by 10 AM.

    7:00-8:15 am Breakfast (Dining Hall)
    Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 5.30.46 AMMagic:  What lies at the heart of a “magical” engaging interactive media product? Child development theory. But don’t worry — this talk is short, sweet and to the point; and it’s based on the new ibook Child Development 101 for the Designers of Children’s Interactive Media, by Warren Buckleitner (note — Dust or Magic participants get a free download code; and a hard copy of the book is provided). 
    8:30 Spotlight Talks — 15 minutes each

    Short, TED-style high impact talks in 17 minutes or less with a few Q/A.

    1. Barbara Chamberlin, NMSU  “The High Cost of Giving it Away for Free” Barbara will talk about the elephant in the room.
    2. Valérie Touze, Edoki. “Montessori is More Than a Brand
    3. Luca Prasso, Curious Hat “Spotlight Stories: Exploring New Storytelling Tools on Mobile”  Luca has been working with some new storytelling technology at Google, and he’ll do a demo for us (video)
    4. Angell“Mining China: How to Make an App That Chinese Parents Want” by Angell Liao and  John Fairley. A discussion about how the cultural revolution has created an insatiable hunger for educational apps in China, with a brief history along with a description on what parents in China are looking for in apps. Note — this one might go a bit longer than 15 minutes due to the Q/A and discussion.
    10:30 Demos

    Laser guided feedback from a rare and expert audience.


    11:00  Review Panel

    Let’s think back on the past 36 hours. What did we learn? What are the key “nice touches?” How will these affect what we do in 2016?

    1:30 Lunch


    1:30 Final farewell


    2015 AppCamp Speaker Details


    • Harley Baldwin

      Harley Baldwin 

      Harley Baldwin is the VP of Design at Schell Games. She has been a designer and leader in the AAA console game industry for twenty years at notable game studios, including 2K, Nihilistic Software, Demiurge, Crystal Dynamics, LucasArts, and Her Interactive. She has worked on lots of titles and genres, from Rock Band and Tomb Raider to Call of Duty and XCOM. Her focus is to ensure excellent design using collaborative development and best practices to produce elegant transformational experiences. At Schell Games, Harley draws on her formidable experience to inspire the team to produce wo...

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    • Keli Winters

      Keli Winters, Evan-Moor

      Keli Winters 

      Keli Winters is the Director of Production at Evan-Moor Educational Publishers. Keli has been with Evan-Moor for 10 years, working with a team of Editors and Designers toward achieving the goal of creating innovative K-6 supplemental teaching materials. She works closely with various departments to shape the technology vision for the Evan Moor including technology that is integrated with print products, standalone technology products, and Evan-Moor's internet presence.

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    • Emmet O'Neill

      Emmet O’Neill 

      Emmet O'Neill is the Chief Product Officer for StoryToys. He is responsible for all aspects of product development, from concept through to final delivery. In StoryToys he has produced apps for many leading entertainment companies including Eric Carle Studio, Saban, Warner Bros/DC, Sesame Workshop and Disney. With a career in digital product design that spans almost 20 years, Emmet has worked across a broad spectrum of industries including publishing, advertising and film /TV....

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    • Michel Kripalani

      Michel Kripalani 

      Michel Kripalani is President / CEO of Oceanhouse Media, a leading developer and publisher of apps for the mobile market. He is a serial entrepreneur, having founded three successful ventures over the past 25 years. He lives and breathes entrepreneurship and will serve as the President of Entrepreneurs Organization - San Diego for the 2015-2016 year. Oceanhouse Media is Michel's third start-up. The company has licensing relationships in place with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Hay House Publishers, Zondervan (HarperCollins), Random House, Houghton Mifflin, Chronicle Books and many others. T...

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    • John Cromie

      Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Touch Press

      John Cromie 

      John Cromie is a co-founder of and Chief Technology Officer at Touch Press. With a background in software engineering, John has architected and delivered scores of successful projects on a wide variety of desktop, web, and mobile platforms. He has extensive experience developing on OS X, iOS and Windows platforms, including a spell working with the QuickTime team at Apple. He has authored a book in the QuickTime Developer series. His strengths in software architecture put Touch Press apps on a more solid technical foundation than is ...

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    • Ann McCormick

      Ann McCormick 

      Ann H. McCormick, PhD founded and lead software design at the Learning Company for it’s first 16 products, including Rocky’s Boots and Reader Rabbit.With her team, she created a new category of software and a leading national brand. Ann gave invited presentations for the Special Office of the President (US), the LIbrary of Congress, Members of Parliament (UK), the Congress of the Latin Americas (Brazil), and spoke at telecommunications companies (Northern Telecom, Pacific Bell, ATT) advanced labs (IBM, Apple, HP) and for publishers and toy companies. She consulted to Apple Cla...

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    • Björn Jeffery

      Björn Jeffery 

      Björn Jeffery is the CEO and co-founder of Toca Boca, a play studio that makes digital toys for touchscreen devices. Since 2011, they have released 27 products that has sold in over 215 countries worldwide, and downloads of over 85 million in April 2015. Toca Boca has won numerous awards for their apps, including Nappa Gold and iKids twice, 10 Parents Choice Awards and the 2013 KAPi for Most Pioneering Team in Children’s Technology. In 2015, Toca Boca was acquired by Canadian toy maker Spin-Master. Previously, he was Director of Future Media & Technology at Bonnier Rese...

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    • Dan Russell-Pinson

      Dan Russell-Pinson 

      Dan Russell-Pinson President, Freecloud Design, Inc. Dan Russell-Pinson is the creator of several top 10 educational and entertainment apps including Stack the States, Tipping Point, Stack the Countries, Mathmateer, Presidents vs. Aliens and Monster Physics.  Dan has recently expanded his reach by supporting the Android and Windows 8 platforms.  He studied Computer Science at Clemson University and combines his interests in programming, graphics, music and sound to create games that are educational and engaging.  In his free time, Dan enjoys photography, unicycling, music and spending ti...

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    • Scott Traylor

      Scott Traylor 

      For the past 22 years Scott Traylor has defined the vision behind the Boston-based digital development and consulting firm known as 360KID. His youth-focused company specializes in product ideation, market testing, and product development as a service to companies interested in engaging kids through a variety of different m...

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    • Mark Schlichting

      Mark Schlichting

      Mark Schlichting 

      Mark Schlichting is a passionate promoter for play. He is also a pioneer of the multimedia industry, an expert in children’s interactive design, and is probably best known as the creator of Brøderbund’s Living Books CD-ROM series. In 2000 Mark founded NoodleWorks Interactive, a creative consulting and production company specializing in innovative design for children. In November 2011, NoodleWorks released its’ first iPad app, a word toy called Noodle Words. His ...

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    • Daren Carstens

      Daren Carstens 

      Daren Carstens founded Carstens Studios Inc., where he authors, designs, programs and develops educational products for children. He has worked in K-12 educational publishing for 20 years, and his work has received many awards including the prestigious international Bologna Children's Book Fair New Media Prize in the Best Educational Software category, 2010 & 2011 Parents' Choice Gold Awards - Parents' Choice Foundation, and 2010 & 2011 Editor's Choice Awards - Children's Technology Review. Daren combines the rare talent of a thorough understanding of learning processe...

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    • Barbara Chamberlin

      Barbara Chamberlin 

      Barbara Chamberlin directs game development at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab.

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    • Pierre Abel

      Pierre Abel 

      Pierre Abel is the founder of L'Escapadou, a family design studio based in the south of France. He started creating apps as soon as the iPad was released, and is the author of several awarded apps (including Montessori Crosswords and Word Wizard). Watching his homeschooled kids  learn and play is his main source of inspiration for the apps he designs with his wife. Previously, Pierre has worked as User Interface Designer/Developer, has done academic research in Information Visualization, and has developed his first game - a long time ago - on Apple IIGS. Pierre holds a PhD in ...

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    • Aleen Stein

      Aleen Stein 

      Aleen Stein is a founding partner and principal shareholder of the Criterion Collection. She’s also CEO and Publisher of Organa L.L.C., a new media publishing company. Organa seeks to bring the best in children’s animation from around the world to American families, and include art, science, cultu...

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    • Warren Buckleitner

      Warren Buckleitner 

      Warren Buckleitner is an educational psychologist who reviews children's interactive media. He's been a preschool, elementary and college teacher in TCNJ's IMM program. He is the founding editor of Children's Technology Review ( He speaks at education and library conferences, and contributes content books and publications, including a decade of children's tech coverage for the New York Times. He holds a degree in elementary education from Central Michigan University (Cum Laude), an MA in early childhood edu...

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    • Sara Vitale

      Sara Vitale 

      Sara is a Project Manager at Seven Academy. Though she is new to the team, her experience and education have allowed her to make significant contributions to game development, research, and creation of educational content. Prior to joining Seven Academy, she worked as a substitute teacher in Montreal, QC and spent the summer teaching Life Skills at the Umoja Center Arusha, Tanzania. She has degrees in Kindergarten and Elementary Education from McGill University.

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    • Valérie Touze

      Valérie Touze 

      Valérie Touze is the founder of Edoki Acadamy formerly know as Les Trois Elles. She has been developing apps since 2010.  Education is in the company DNA: 2 of its 3 founders have been Montessori teachers.  The company's apps cover numeracy, geometry, creativity, phonics… in 15 languages, making it an international actor.  All their are available on the App Store and 6 are now also on Android. Valérie has an international background: she grew up in Canada where she studied Business.  She then lived in France where she trained to become a Montessori teacher le...

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    • Barry O'Neill

      Barry O’Neill 

      Barry O’Neill is the CEO of Touch Press, the educational games and family app publisher formed by the integration of Amplify Games, StoryToys, and Touchpress. Touch Press is is known for its high quality apps based on both original and licensed IP, including the multi-award winning StoryToys portfolio of K-3 apps (My Very Hungry Caterpillar, Mother Goose Club), Touch Press Games’ library (12 a Dozen, Crafty Cut, World of Lexica), and its renowned portfolio of reference apps including Theodore Gray’s ...

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    • John Fairley 

      John Fairley  

      John Fairley is the Marketing Manager for Angell Echo and has been living in China for almost two years. With his past work experience he specializes in helping Chinese companies expand into global markets. He has been able to provide Angell Echo with key market research on developing products that have allowed the company to more effectively design their products. He has not only provided research, but also provided valuable advice and ideas for Angell Echo’s newest product. In addition, he has played a critical role in the successful launch of A...

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    • Angell Liao 

      Angell Liao  

      Angell is the Co-founder and CEO of Angell Echo and Magikid. Angell has 16 years experience in the mobile multimedia industry and is one of the Chinese pioneers in this field. Her first venture was acquired by the Chinese entertainment corporation, Snda. In 2009, she established her second company, Angell Echo, one of China’s top applications development company. Together with a team of 40 people, she takes an active role of innovative product design and content creation. Since 2012, Magikid’s products a...

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    • Luca Prasso

      Luca Prasso 

      Luca Prasso is a creative technologist at Google's Daydream Labs, a small team dedicated to exploring new interactions and possibilities in VR/AR. Prior to Daydream, Luca has worked on Google's Spotlight Stories immersive storytelling project for 2 years. In 2012 Luca co founded Curious Hat, an award winning studio dedicated to the development of innovative mobile children apps. For 17 years, Luca has worked a...

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    • Mona Ewees

      Mona Ewees 

      Mona is passionately driven by her belief that every single child in the world deserves a high-quality education. She is responsible for teacher training and classroom technology implementation in the Breteau Foundation's South African partner schools. She herself has been a teacher and school principal for the first 14 years of her career working both in the primary school and high school context in the United States and South Africa. Mona h...

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  • 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.