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On Unconferences and Expectations

David Wilcox has an interesting post on the aftermath of an "unconference" he attended. He notes:

But ... after all the buzz, what happens next? And does that matter? The question pops back into my mind after writing again about one of Policy Unplugged's buzzy events, this time at NESTA and focussed on innovation and collaboration.

It was a terrific mix of people ... and I think for those involved it was enough to hear some admirably brief presentations, join group discussions, and then socialise. It was free, with drinks at the end. So who could possibly complain?

However, I did hear a few people asking why NESTA was running the event, and what would come of it. I don't think there were any formal notes taken, and no feedback at the end.

David goes on to wonder if facilitators unskilled in the ways of unconferencing might not give it a bad name. Given that unconferencing is on the rise, particularly within techie circles, it seems worthwhile to begin a discussion on what needs to happen for unconferences to meet the expectations of participants. So why don't you go join in the conversation?


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Thanks Michele for giving this a boost. As you touch on in a comment on my blog, expectation is important. If people know at the outset it is up to them what happens, that's fine. But if a major organisation has organised an event as part of their programme, there may be an expectation that conversations and other activities will somehow feed into that. If it isn't clear how that will happen, it can reflect badly on the organisers.

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