Monday, 11 May 2009

Unconference


Image courtesy of Whurleyvision

Businesses were fast to adopt online social networking tools like facebook and twitter, but are lagging a bit behind when it comes to innovative new ways of running conferences and other social events.

BarCamp is one such innovation. A popular event format amongst the computer programming fraternity. BarCamp is an example of an un-conference, something defined by wikipedia as 'a facilitated, participant-driven conference centred around a theme or a purpose.'

The main difference to a traditional conference is that the content is provided by participants.

BarCamps are organized and evangelized largely through the web, harnessing what might be called a web 2.0
communications toolkit. Anyone can initiate a BarCamp, using the BarCamp wiki.

Rather than have a set agenda, the schedule is set each day by the delegates. Whilst the structure is loose, there are rules at BarCamp. All attendees are encouraged to present or facilitate a session. The sharing of information through blogs and other digital channels is also encouraged.

I'm not suggesting that the above concept would work for all businesses, but in a time when conferences are being cut it seems sensible to be aware that there are different ways to run things. And, let's face it, the degree of engagement, implicit in everyone taking a stake in presenting and facilitating at BarCamp, can't be a bad thing.

PS - In keeping with formats origin, barcampers tend to insist that the venue provides a space for them to camp out overnight. An interesting way to cut your logistics budget!