Monday, May 07, 2007


Thoughts on Unconferences

Doc Searls discusses the notion of unconferences which I think is a great idea on one level but can also serve to disintermediate others within IT.

As you are probably aware, most large enterprises have set budgets for conference attendance and they will want to maximize their spend. Usually, enterprises do lots of upfront planning by having lots of folks chime in on which sessions an attendee should attend and require them to take copious notes. The unconference model challenges the ability for an enterprise to participate in advance or from a distance. Likewise, the elimination of Powerpoint (or at least its minimization) will cause attendees to have to spend even more time taking notes which means that they aren't really participating.

The economic model of conferences also seems to be threatened in that the vast majority of costs usually are covered by software vendors who purchase booth space. Software vendors buy booth space because they are interested in getting face time with a certain pre-determined demographic that in the unconference model seems less predictable.

Folks know that I am probably one of the biggest advocates for enterprises changing their monolithic thinking but in all reality, I at some level (not all) believe that IT profession at large may be doing itself a disservice if unconferences are allowed to displace traditional approaches...

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