Conferences as Community Gathering

Rather than treating attendees just as an audience for lectures, conferences should be a community gathering that invites people to make it an awesome experience. Here are some thoughts on how to include community in your traditional conference format, starting with a bit of history about unconferences.

What is an unconference?

Mitch Joel laments the ‘Death of the Unconference’, saying “This past month, I’ve seen a handful of events that are billing themselves as unconferences when, in reality, they’re just very shabby and cheap events.” I don’t doubt that the term unconference has been co-opted. But I disagree with Mitch’s take on what the one, true unconference actually is and means. Maybe we should backup at this point and actually explain the core concept of an unconference. An unconference typically starts the day by gathering all the participants in one room, and those that want to lead talks pitch their sessions....