Dust or Magic Fall Institute Background Information

  • “I always tell people, if you’ve never come to a Dust or Magic before, try to come to Lambertville. It’s the original.” Warren Buckleitner

     

    Learn more about this year’s agenda or keep reading for general background information.

    GENERAL INFORMATION

    Held early November each Fall at a historic Inn on the shore of the Delaware River, just steps from where George Washington made his famous crossing, another group has been meeting — to change a different kind of history. The Fall Dust or Magic Institute has been bringing together people passionate about the potential of children’s interactive media since 2001. And some have been fortunate enough to experience the magic.

    Unlike AppCamp and the eBook Retreat, this event takes a global view on children’s interactive media, looking at all forms of hardware and software. This includes toys, virtual worlds, tablets and related hardware, video games…. and of course apps. Our objective is to make sure you leave on Tuesday knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the current year’s products; and you have a good feeling for what the next year will bring.

    History

    The first Dust or Magic meeting was planned for Sept. 23, 2001, but was actually held in 2002. Today there are three “official” Dust or Magic events — The Institute (each fall in Lambertville), AppCamp (each spring in California) and eBooks (in the Spring in Boyds Mills, PA). The Dust or Magic concept was inspired from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair’s annual Bologna New Media Prize juror “summits” that were held from 1997 – 2002.

    Imagine seven technology editors from around the world, each with strong ideas about his or her own set of favorite products— holed-up for a weekend in a single room with over 400 new products to demonstrate. Our goal was to choose seven winners with some attempted degree of external validity. It was hard work and the debate was intense. We each left Bologna each spring with an expanded practical knowledge of the “state of the art,” and we were also able to hear the opinions of other reviewers, each with a completely different cultural and personal point of view. The first Dust or Magic Institute was designed to rekindle this atmosphere, by bringing recent products into a place where they could be freely and critically demonstrated by people who are passionate about the potential of interactive media for children.

      • 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."

      • SONY DSC

        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."

      • dustormagic-peterspicture

        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."

      • charity 1

        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.

    Is it Dust, or is it Magic? And Who Chooses?

    Dust or Magic is a rare setting, where individuals “agree to disagree” as the default condition. Diverse opinions are supported and discussion is encouraged, lasers are used to rate products, quickly and objectively. On occasion, the feedback following a demonstration or a talk might seem boldly honest. The thinking is that it is better to get this news about design weaknesses directly, in an honest and supportive way in order to learn and make changes.

    Participants are given instructions on how to give this type of feedback in their handout packets. Participants need to know that it is OK to speak up and disagree. It isn’t personal; our end goal is always about building your personal definition of “magic.”

    About the Name

    In the Spring of 2001, plans for the first Institute were underway. Aleen Stein, then of Scholastic/Organa, had given me a copy of a book by Bob Hughes called Dust or Magic: Secrets of Successful Multimedia Design. Bob’s title was inspired from a quote from Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), as follows: “an idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.” I asked Bob if I could use the title of his book for the type of event I was thinking about and Bob’s reply was ‘Matsuo wouldn’t mind.’ So in the spirit of international cooperation, open source thinking and the desire to make better digital environments for children, we share the Dust or Magic name. You can learn more about Bob’s thinking on interface design and the digital culture in genera, at http://www.dustormagic.net

  • 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."

    • SONY DSC

      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."

    • dustormagic-peterspicture

      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."

    • charity 1

      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.