What is an unconference?

An unconference is driven by the participants, who prepare presentations or discussion topics beforehand but announce and schedule them the day of the conference.

The guiding principles for the sessions:

  • The people who come are the best people who could have come.
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
  • It starts when it starts.
  • It’s over when it’s over.
  • The Law of Two Feet: If you are not learning or contributing to a talk, presentation, or discussion, it is your responsibility to find somewhere where you can contribute or learn.
  • No commercials/selling.

 

Session announcement and scheduling will happen in person, on paper, during the conference. In the morning we’ll give each host an few seconds to announce their topic and post it to the wall schedule. Then we’ll give everyone a some time to view the wall schedule and initial the sessions they are interested in – this will let us know if any sessions might need to use a bigger space. The session slots are first-come, first-served, but we may rearrange before the sessions begin for space/equipment needs.

Hosting a session is not required but everyone is welcome to become a session host.

The sessions don’t have to be rehearsed and they don’t have to be presentations. Session spaces will be equipped to display posters or to take group notes (think post-its and flipchart paper and colorful markers) – some spaces have projection equipment but have a plan B if you want to show slides. You can be creative with your session content and format. For instance, you could…

  • brainstorm an idea
  • solicit feedback on a design
  • organize a panel/co-host a topic
  • present research findings
  • have a short workshop
  • guide a debate on a controversial topic
  • discuss solutions to a problem
  • discuss a common interest

To help session hosts and attendees prepare, we’ve created a space to Suggest a Topic. Here you can review and vote on topics that have been suggested by others, you can offer to host or co-host a topic, or you can add a topic you’d like to host or learn about.

If you don’t have an idea for a session, please participate, ask questions, and be involved in other sessions! You have an opinion, knowledge, and information to share with others.