I’m thrilled to be part of the organizing group for the upcoming ChangeCamp event, taking place Saturday May 16 from 8:30-5pm at Ottawa City Hall. A lot of hard work has gone into the planning of the event from an excellent group of volunteers, and it’ll be great to see the fruits of our labour coming to life.
ChangeCamp is an unconference, meaning that the event provides the framework for discussions – the theme, face-to-face venue, logistical support, gathering participants, and rich online media tools & environment – but the actual content of the event is defined and created by the participants themselves. So there are no pre-prepared powerpoint presentations, key note speakers, or diatribes from an ‘expert’ to a passive audience.
ChangeCamp is participatory at it’s core. The event depends upon participants’ active engagement in discussions; people taking the initiative to propose and lead discussions; and for a group of people to self-organize around topics and conversations that most interest them. The event framework helps to provide some order to this seeming state of anarchy, by providing pre-defined meeting areas for each of the discussions; and an agenda wall for people to share their ideas, and assign a meeting space and time to discuss their topic of choice.
Discussion topic leaders have the sole responsibility of showing up at the time/space to kickstart the discussion; and ensuring that someone facilitates the discussion, and captures and shares the content (it doesn’t have to be the person who proposed the topic).
This format is intended to encourage people to come together around specific topics of interest, and to allow people to free-flow around the conference between various conversations and topics to share ideas between groups for a cross-pollination effect.
Participation is key, but it’s not only about the event-day participation among people at the event. In this Age of Participation the online discussions and interactions are equally as important. The event participants have been interacting online using a Pathable online community space, and of course through Twitter with the #cco09 hashtag, and the organizers have utilized Google Groups and a wiki space.
The event day will see an explosion in online content, through regular tweets, live blogging, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, and the extensive use of the community wiki to capture notes. There is also a FriendFeed stream of content, and a NetVibes page to aggregate the different online content. Hopefully this will help people unable to attend the live event to follow along; and help the event extend beyond this single day to continue the conversations, and drive people to act upon some of the ideas generated at ChangeCamp.
It’s great to bring together this group of like-minded individuals for some interesting discussions; but I’m hoping the real value will be in actions following the event that will improve the way governments and citizens interact.