Make your own unconference within General Assembly

I’ll probably be very tired at GA this year; I have been each year I’ve been. But I intend to attend it differently this year.

I have helped plan, worked and attended Sunlight Foundation’s hybrid-unconference TransparencyCamp for several years, and have attended at least one other unconference, not to mention a bunch of meetings built off of an unconference ethic — well let’s just say that conventionally-managed conferences pale now. You know: big speakers, a presumption of one-way participation in workshops, and low energy. Occasionally, sometimes or often a desire to be elsewhere or do something else. Neat and orderly, but the mind wanders.

Often enough, the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association functions like this. I know others do very well by it, and others who are willing to treat the whole thing primarily as a networking experience. But GA is too important an opportunity for that. It can be a market, not a product.

Certain unconference habits can and should be introduced by attendees.

  • ¬†Use Twitter to identify high points. Make a running commentary. Take and share pictures. Follow up with people commenting on what interests you. Use the hashtag #uuaga and any other the presenter appoints.
  • Share notes. Blog your notes, or share them in a Google Doc. Ask people interested in the same topic to public Etherpad if you’re feeling adventuresome.
  • Vote with your feet. If the workshop or other gathering is not for you, leave quietly.
  • “Go rogue.” Is there a missing workshop? Organize one. That’s hardly a new idea — Twelve-step, reunion and social groups have done this for years. But it would be good to see them organize on the fly, and for a programmatic outcome, or to stage post-GA work.

2 Replies to “Make your own unconference within General Assembly”

  1. Seven-Up: The Un-Cola. (Sorry, shameless Boomer trivia, couldn’t help myself.) So, Occupy GA? Find a meeting room and liberate it? It’s got to help that we are long past the fabled “Message Board” (with the not unsubtle competition to see who had the most messages) to facilitate any kind of “going rogue.” Won’t be there, except for open house at chez Kron, but would love to hear how it works.

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