Live from NTC: The Art of the Unconference

, Thursday, April 8th, 2010

I love a lot of geeky things – data, free tools, usability theory behind online NCAA basketball brackets. So when I saw the “unconference” on Open Data and APIs sponsored by NetSquared Open Space, I was all in. But I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What is an “unconference” anyway, and what place does it have at a conference.

Now that I’ve received my education in the Unconference, I’m hooked.

At a conference, the agenda is set perhaps months ahead of time by conference planners. At an “unconference,” the agenda is set by the attendees ten minutes. At a conference, attendees are talked to by a panel of experts. At an “unconference,” the attendees are the experts, leading and following in discussions of their choosing.

This was a fantastic way to keep a conversation lively and relevant, especially for a topic that may seem narrow, but is actually quite broad. I myself wound up with a group talking about more open exchanges between CMSes, and particular, CMIS. I can’t wait to learn more.

On Friday and Saturday, we return to the more traditional conference format here at NTC (though one might say that an NTC conference is anything but traditional). So if you’re at NTC this Saturday, check out two of Beaconfire’s panels: Data, Data, Everywhere, and Will Kiva Kill your non-profit.

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