Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 5, 2006 2:41 PM

Unconference Defined

There has been lots of great feedback after CaseCamp Montreal (which took place yesterday). With the good, also comes the criticism (as is to be expected from the Blogosphere). At the end of the day, I'm just happy to see the passion of people and the conversation flowing.

One recurring theme is that the event should take place in a more conversation-friendly environment (round tables and the ability to ask questions as the presenters speak). I don't know of a table that holds sixty-plus people, but I agree that the more conversation, the better.

Based on those main challenges, some people have drawn a conclusion that in the end the result may not have been very "unconference" after all.

I disagree.

First off, here's how wikipedia defines "unconference":

"An unconference is a conference where the content of the sessions is driven and created by the participants, generally day-by-day during the course of the event, rather than by a single organizer, or small group of organizers, in advance. To date, the term is primarily in use in the geek community. Unconference processes like Open Space Technology, however, have been around for over 20 years in other contexts."

CaseCamp Montreal was one hundred percent an unconference. Everything done before the event was self-organizing and up to all of us. The wiki was set up, people could post their presentation (along with the slot they wanted) and attendees went in and signed themselves up.

If the end result was a polished event, then that speaks volumes to the quality of the presenters and the following of the CaseCamp rules.

In my definition, an unconference is something self-organized (which this was). CaseCamp Montreal was nothing like a standard conference. There was not months of prep work, there was no professional and volunteer staff or the promotion it usually takes to pull off a conference. CaseCamp Montreal was a wiki, a couple of Blog postings and people like you and me.

That's pretty unconference as far as I can tell.

By Mitch Joel

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  • Posted by Seb
    Mitch Joel

    I think there's no doubt it was an unconference. The same comment about "conversations" came out of Mesh Conference in Toronto. Some people complained that there was not enough dialogue between speakers and participants.

    I was thinking about a TV show called "Attack of the Show" on G4 Tech TV. They use a scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen that shows user comments in "real time" (I'm sure it's filtered by an editor). It could be cool to install wifi in the Casecamp conference room, allow people to chat about the conference during the speech and have a moderator interrupt the speaker to ask questions or comment when it's relevant (based on user feedback). That could allow "conversations" without disrupting too much the activity.

    Reply
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