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Live: InfoCamp 2008 - Unconference: Using openspace for collaboration

Nick Finck

September 27, 2008 at 4:00 PM

Bryce Johnson is giving a talk about unconferences, what they are, how they came to being. He starts off his talk about barcamp and how that spurred the first generation of unconferences. He went on to explain TransitCamp, etc. “Open Space is a technique and unconferences are an interesting way for collaboration.”

Organizing – InfoCamp spent 6 months organizing event. While Bryce believes this because some people like to organize events. He asked me about Refresh Seattle and how much time I put in to it a month… about 2 hours for me personally. This is mostly because its a well-oiled machine and we keep it simple, for example the Refresh Seattle website is basically a single web page.

Space – Getting spaces can be tough. Multi-floor spaces are bad because you should be able to get up and go to another session. Multi-floors work against that. Most open spaces are in a single room. Attendees are sharing their experiences of organizing and attending barcamp events and the spaces they were held. A common space is very critical to the success of the space. Barcamp Seattle, Barcamp Portland, Barcamp Toronto.

Grid – The Grid should be flexible. The grid is the schedule. Time going down the grid, rooms across the grid. You should have the ability to negotiate the grid if someone wants to see two sessions at the same time or if two talks cover similar ground. “One of the best Barcamp/Open Space experiences I ever had we only had 40 people show up but those 40 people were hardcore and really engaged. Since then I haven’t been so worried about the number of attendance.” Corpru is talking about why the dinner and lunch are important. Introductions of sessions to all of the attendees prior to the session is a good idea. Participation is critical to the success of this kind of event.

Food – Bryce says He is not a fan of the catering because it doesn’t keep it simple. It is important but there are some issues with food. Everyone hates pizza but its so easy for everyone. You remember the buffet but the logistics of getting thru the line. You have to have food available all the time, not just at breaks. You can buy a lot of food at Costco for minimal cash. Discussion about zero footprint events.

Swag – “T-Shirts are awesome but I don’t know if you need them or not. I am never unhappy when I get a t-shirt, but do I need it?” Swag should not be crap. Small thumbdrives are useless, large ones are expensive. Corpru talking about the effort for the tshirts this year at InfoCamp. The people who are obsessed with marketing and branding in their real jobs did the marketing and branding.

After – Document the ideas and notes and make them available. If people are going to take notes and attend they should put that online or on the wiki and make them available. “After the event is done how do we keep it going? What’s next?”

The open space format you can scale it down you can scale it up. You can spend months or very little time. In toronto they started doing it a lot more for civic groups like TransitCamp, etc. And now all kinds of cities and towns are doing it. “In terms of community organizing, I have personally never experienced anything more powerful than this type of format.”

Comments

Zac

September 27, 2008 at 9:32 PM

Great to have the quick feedback. Good topic with a good summary! Felt like I was there…except for the shirt ;)

bryce johnson

September 29, 2008 at 4:21 PM

Thanks for taking such great notes Nick. I’ll try to add more notes to the infocamp wiki this week.

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