Friday, April 25, 2008

And Finally....

The final session to attend at the Web 2.0 Expo will be:
"How to Create Successful Unconferences, BarCamps, and Meetups for Almost No $$"
I am guessing that this session may be somewhat unscripted and interactive  - in the spirit of the Un-conference.
I have run un-meetings at work so I am keen to get a few pointers on how to improve the experience for everyone involved.
Susan Mernit moderated the panel. Also on the panel:
What is a BarCamp?
A BarCamp is a Global, Self Organizing effective meeting. The attendees organize the agenda in real time. Started in 2005 and there have been over 400 events organized.
BlogHer is focused around women bloggers and after starting in 2005 the movement has grown from 300 attendees at a conference to eight events in 2008 with 2,500 people plus Second Live events.
OpenSpace and Unconferences: An Unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven face-to-face conference around a theme or purpose. OpenID grew from an unconference event.
The Results Wall is an important part of the outcome. It allows people to share the outcomes even if they can't attend all the sessions.
The growth in virtual connectivity is reinforced and made far more valuable by the in-person events.
How to have a Bar Camp or Open Space or Un-Conference?
  • How do you get started?
  • What are best practices?
  • Who do you find people?
  • What should you pay for?
  • How do you keep costs low?
Things to do:
  • Blog about your plans
  • Ask about ideas
  • Respond on feedback
Now we have:
The most important things:
  • Venue
  • Time
  • Date
If you are trying something new then have it run adjacent to an event that your audience attends. 
Find non-traditional venues because the hospitality industry makes catering and space expensive.
Find an office of an interested company. This helps lay on Wi-Fi and space. It also allows low cost catering.
Do it in a low cost way because it builds the camaraderie in the community.
How do you measure success?
  • Read blog posts of the attendees
  • Read blog posts of the watchers
  • Poll the audience to find out who will attend again
  • Poll the audience to find out who is interested in presenting at a future event
  • There is a good question of whether to charge.
A good model is to split the cost between the sponsors and the attendees. 
Keeping the cost low makes it easier to raise funds. Keeping costs low allow the events to happen sooner because less funding needs to be raised. Many Bar Camps apply a $300 maximum contribution.