What is an Unconference?

We’ve mentioned that much of our weekend schedule for WordCamp Portland will be determined in an unconference format, but I’m sure that at least a few of you are wondering what that means. Rather than creating yet another explanation, I’d like to borrow a couple explanations from Dawn Foster:

“It is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for
people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense
event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants.”

Or in more detail:

“The unconference is an adhoc gathering shaped by those who attend
with the sessions and agenda being driven by the participants. The
framework is defined in advance, but the sessions are organized and
produced by the attendees. In other words, instead of a full agenda
with sessions and speakers clearly determined in advance, you start
with a blank grid containing times on one axis and rooms / locations
on the other axis; lunches and any other common activities are often
added to the grid in advance to provide some basic infrastructure for
the event. You never know what discussions, demos, and other interactions
to expect before the event, but you can count on it being an
interesting time!”

“Unconferences on the other hand may tend to attract people who enjoy
shaping their environment and who may value networking and
conversation more than presentation. You become a participant, instead
of just an attendee. Sessions are proposed, refined, and often
combined as the event progresses and conversations evolve. I also find
more networking opportunities at unconferences, since many sessions
are discussion based rather than a single person giving a
presentation.”

Thanks to Dawn for allowing me to republish her explanations; this should clear things up for those who have yet to experience the benefits an unconference can bring when so many interesting people are together.

In order to spur some pre-event discussion, there is a blog post that can be used as an open thread for discussion about topics folks might want to discuss at WordCamp Portland.

4 Responses to What is an Unconference?

  1. Tress says:

    I find myself wanting to understand more about php — not to be a programmer but to have a sense of what/how it changes WP options and share with clients in a way that they get a mile high sense of the power of WordPress.

    Maybe a chance to see someone build a plug-in and walk through the steps with them and learn as they go. I’m quite sure php is not a manmade fiber used to make bad fashion accessories.

  2. Jeff Naramor says:

    I’d like to discuss why and how to make wordpress editor more WSYWIG and how to make content work with tables. It’s been a bit frustrating for me and my clients to have content appear formatted differently that it was initially written. I think this could be a great topic for discussion.

  3. Barbara says:

    I have a suggestion for a topic.

    How about an easy way to update WordPress without messing up plugins or settings that are already there. I know there’s a process, but it seems very cumbersome to me. Is there a way to simply update WordPress?

  4. Nancy Wirsig McClure says:

    Session suggestion:

    When you build sites for small businesses: Helping them choose what to blog about.