Unconferencing collaboration (and public policy)
January 28, 2008 § 3 Comments
I was just reading on the Doors of Perception blog that Collaborative Innovation is this year’s theme at the World Economic Forum. Maybe this is a good thing (Jimmy Wales got to talk), and maybe it’s not (Don Tapscott got to talk). In either case, the really sad thing is the continued trend events about mass collaboration that are as uncollaborative as possible. Davos is just one long-lecture-fest, with most people zoned out in the audience in passive listening mode. It’s not collaboration, it’s television.
Unconferencers and openspacers of the world have be running real collaborative events for years. However, trying to roll participation into conferences ranging from WEF (big and showy) to the iSummit (small and groovy) almost always meets with heavy push back. Even when talking about collaboration, most event organizers seem to think TV-style lectures are the only viable format. Strange, and maddening.
Happily, today saw a small victory for the unconference crowd, with an article on Toronto’s TransitCamp appearing in the Harvard Business Review’s 2008 Breakthrough Ideas section. My friend Mark Kuznicki describes it here:
… [the HBR] piece tells the tale of a community and a public agency coming together to solve problems in an innovative new way, using social web technology, social media and design methods together with the Barcamp unconference framework. The approach helped to shift the relationship between the organization and its customers and community stakeholders. That organization was the Toronto Transit Commission and the event and the open creative community that emerged from it was called Toronto TransitCamp.
Put simply, TransitCamp was an unconference to gather input on the redesign of the Toronto Transit Commission’s web site. What’s amazing is that the chair of the TTC attended and that many of the new and creative ideas from the event actually got fed into the site design process. Vancouver and San Francisco have ripped off the idea by holding their own TransitCamps.
My hope (and the hope of the TransitCamp ringleaders) is that the HBR article will give some legitimacy to the unconference idea, especially as a way to engage in both public policy dialogues and big conferency conferences (a participatory unDavos? … okay, maybe not). Here’s to hoping.
PS. You can read the article in Harvard Business Review, or visit this wiki page
for links that provide a comprehensive overview of the background, the
design, the experience, the media coverage, the conceptual foundations
and the influence of TransitCamp.