Putting the “Un” in Conference

I have delayed updating my blog for a few days largely because the rest of the Open Everything un-conference was intensive and frankly a little overwhelming.   So many ideas,  so much knowledge to integrate from so many different culture perspectives and finally so many new ways of doing things.  So after a couple of days of reflection here is what i thought I would do.  Talk about my key take aways one per blog entry over the next few days. 

So,  one of the more interesting aspects was the un-conference itself.  There were no keynote speakers or seminars nor a powerpoint slide in sight, anywhere.   These were replaced by broad participation and an openness to anyone proposing a key issue for discussion,  in fact one of the agenda items was called hacking the agenda which meant: please feel free to add something new to discuss. 

This is all facilitated by exercises that seemed more like games, that is, they were actually fun,  including the spectrogram which I talked about in an earlier blog entry, the use of concept mapping where we were asked to identify a major concept that would begin with ‘open’ ie ‘open’ source. ‘open’ government and then to identify words or related concepts.  As you might expect we had some pretty different concepts from some of the ones i would have expected including open heart, open soul, open charity etc but also ones more germaine to govt work ie open source, open government etc. 

Other interesting approaches included speedgeek sessions where individuals had 15 mins or so to describe their idea or initiative and then groups would move on to the next (as one of the facilitators said a combination of demo and speed dating) and then the martian encounter where we were asked to explain what openess meant to a martian.   Sounds a bit odd but it was quite a good way of doing things.  It got us all thinking about a common frame of reference and common and shared ideas.  What is important and unique for me was the making room for ideas to flow from the participants and in playful and creative way. 

So while it was a very intensive few days,  i never felt bored or unengaged and as one of the vets told me once you have done an un-conference you never want to do it any other way.

 Next blog will be observations on the role of technology in openness whether that is open medical records or open government.

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