Experience attending to an unconference

A couple of weeks ago I went, for first time, to an unconference.

An unconference, like you can read on the Wikipedia, is a conference (or meeting?) without a schedule. In a nutshell: there is a “delegate” (like an organiser) who will book the venue, book some food and drinks, and will start the unconference asking everyone to present themselves and explain which are their favourite topics and area of expertise. Or, like it happened in the one that I attended, the delegate asked to write the title of talks that the attendants wanted to present.

There is an unconference topic, and for mine the topic was Free Software. I was quite reluctant to the idea (wake up early on Saturday, go to some place… without having a schedule or plan!? it’s not my style!)

I’ve heard that sometimes there is one keynote (done my someone known or popular in a given topic) so it drags some people in, especially some lazy ones, like me, who don’t like to go there without knowing what will happen.

My expectations were low. But I had a very good day! I’d really suggest to go!

Accidentally, I did the “opening” talk: Olfactory Notifications (hey, at least it is a different talk!). Actually I decided to stand up and write it because for 30 seconds nobody was writing the title of any talk on the whiteboard… and I thought to break the ice. After mine, people started writing things, we had enough talks for all the morning and afternoon (I had to leave 2 hours before the end but I don’t think that they did all the talks).

I saw 3 different types of talks:

  • Talks that were already prepared for some other place (like mine, someone else’s from Fosdem…).
  • Talks that were prepared just before the talk (people firing up some slides)
  • Some speakers who just went there and started talking with the hands in the pockets

We had good talks with all the systems!

So, if like me, you are reluctant to go to some unconference… don’t be! it can be fun! And if you have something in your pocket… go for it and break the ice (why not?).

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