Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Explaining an Unconference

My company is in the initial planning stages of our annual conference, for which the agenda is primarily dictated by the users themselves. This is a formal agenda which is set months in advance.

For various reasons, I am proposing that the users consider an unconference as an add-on to the main conference itself. This would be a replacement for a series of semi-structured brown bag lunches (Lunch 1.5?) that we tried in our last conference.

Obviously, the precedent that I will consider for a parallel unconference would be the recent experience at Oracle OpenWorld 2007. Ironically, I didn't attend the unconference myself, but all of the reaction that I heard was positive.

As I introduce this to the user executive committee, one item that might intrigue them would be the ability to user attendees to propose topics. Much of the formal agenda of our conference is based upon user presentations, but perhaps we are missing some potential user presenters who have just never been asked to put on a session.

I have no idea whether this will take off, and I'm not even sure if I endorse the idea myself - we may build upon the lunch concept instead. However, it's interesting to see how events that take place in one location can influence other events.


  • Justin Kestelyn's announcement of the Oracle OpenWorld 2007 Unconference

  • My September 17 post on the same

  • My del.icio.us tagged material on barcamps and unconferences (back when I was still using del.icio.us)

  • The Oracle Wiki page on Oracle's Unconference (seems to have a good explanation of an unconference that functions within a conference)

  • My October 19 post on the same

  • Timothy S. Hall's review of his own unconference session, from which I quote below
I went on to my Unconference session called The Oracle DBA… A dying breed? The provocative title did it’s job and the turnout was quite good. This was more of a discussion about the role of the DBA, rather than a presentation. It’s kind of hard to judge the success of this type of session, but the fact people started to join in means it couldn’t have been too bad. Myself and a few others continued the discussion in the OTN lounge for a while afterwards. One of the Oracle guys added some session notes to the page. In the next couple of days I’m going to add some more stuff and try and summarise the opinions voiced. Once I’m done and you can see the form of the discussion, feel free to add to it. There is no reason why the subject has to end with the session.

And there's also Tim Bonneman, Evangelist 2.0.

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