in conferences

chicks & conferences downunder – the conversation continues

So, Ben Barren revved up the Downunder Conference conversation again this weekend. More conversation ensues at the Women of 2.0 post earlier on this site.

We’re talking about unconferences (what are they?), should a chick blogging conference be included as a stream in a larger Downunder Web Conference? (If so, which one). And, is Ben Barren the appropriate champion for Aussie women who blog?

Come, join the fun :)

  1. Trevor Cook, Australian PR expert and all round blogging vet who has recently delivered blogging training to the library profession, advises kindly ( if forthrightly) on Ben’s blog that an uncon in Australia is an unrealistic aim at this point in time. Have a look at what the uncon involves, here:
    http://www.bloggercon.org/iii/newbies

    I emailed Trevor about his comments and was going to post on it, but got derailed by several things, including my rambunctious son, who has chosen this week to be ornery at his day centre, and is at home for some tough love today.(No Easter eggs for you…! No seatbelts (drives) for you! Get up early! Go to bed and sleep!! I’ve even got a picture for his communication book for ‘angry’ – Mum is that today.)
    I have permission to quote, so here it is:

    “Genevieve,
    Question of size I think – do any of our universities have wifi let alone be willing to hand it over for free and do any of our potential sponsors have the courage to hand over some money without demanding airtime at the conference. Without this stuff you have to start charging and then you end up having to appeal to corporates, educational institutions.

    Uni conferences are spoilt (I went to blogtalk downunder last year) because of all the dull but worthy credit points seeking papers, plus blogtalk downunder had free wifi but the price was a very dreary vendor presentation.

    The fee of 175dollars was very moderate compared to private efforts but still put it beyond the reach of a lot of interesting bloggers.

    You also need to ruthlessly enforce the Discussion Leader idea – even at Bloggercon a small group tends to dominate – or it just doesn’t work.
    I think you have to follow the model very strictly or it just becomes just another conference – the model is no admission price, no papers or speeches, no vendor intrusions, just people in a room (and beyond through blogs and chat etc) discussing stuff they love. ”

    As they say in library land, hope this helps. Personally I wonder what the fuss is about wifi, but I’ve yet to attend a bloggercon (or uncon)of any kind.

  2. hey Genevieve,

    thanks for posting Trevor’s thoughts here.

    I can see where he is coming from. Perhaps I’m being unrealistic and idealistic, but I’m still not convinced that an unconference couldn’t work in Australia.

    For me, Blogtalk was problematic because it’s focus was too narrow. Open up the focus, increase the number of streams of people who would be interested, get more on board, build up the critical mass.

    Sponsors can be educated that this is a 2.0 style conference (use the buzzword when it helps with spin), so therefore what you get as a sponsor is different to old style conferences. (And I think there are a lot of benefits that can be sold in, you just need to find the right sponsors).

    I agree that the discussion/focus does need to be lead by a group of people. I’m not 100% on board with the entirely unstructured approach that barcamps/unconferences try to take. I’d like to see a bit of structure in there.

    But, I still think it’s entirely doable. We just need to get enough people on board, and I think we do that by having multiple streams, OR by setting up in conjunction with a larger/more established type conference (I’m thinking Web Directions).

    Oh, and the wifi thing. UTS has wifi everywhere.

    Why do you need wifi at a conference?

    Cynical view says: so that you can do your work/email whilst you’re at the conference, so that you can IM/chat with others in the room and bitch about the presenter behind their back, so that you can be at the conference and not actually pay attention to the conference.,

    Uncynically – so you can live blog the conference and people who couldn’t afford the $175 or couldn’t make it along can still share in the experience (which was kind of my experience of SXSW and IA Summit this year!)

  3. That all sounds pretty good to me, and I did feel that as older bloggers both, Trevor and I might not see all the advantages/angles.
    I don’t really know why they think wifi is necessary either. Can’t imagine what that would be like, having a conversation in a room full of laptops. We struggle here talking across one computer, a telly and a couple of MP3 players. (But of course there’s always the option of raising one’s voice when in loco parentis.) I would have thought a few livebloggers would suffice.

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