Being ‘open’ and more informal in arranging events gives many of us the impression that traditional power structures are also being broken down. While this may be true, to an extent, organisers of open space events are increasingly making attempts to be more actively inclusive.
Now, I do love a good unconference. The energy and enthusiasm of people being given the chance to swap ideas is enthusing in itself. There is an excitement in starting the day with no set agenda and deciding it amongst ourselves before we start. However, unconference organisers, with good reason, are increasingly looking at different ways to set the agenda so that more people feel comfortable taking part.Continue reading
Last week I attended the AbreLatam and ConDatos events in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was the fifth edition of this regional conference on open data for Latin America and was held over three days at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in central San Jose. What follows is a round up of the the days along with some of my impressions.
Day One – Abre Latam Unconference
The first day was an unconference event, with the agenda being decided by the participants at the start of the day. There was a sizeable proportion of attendees who were at their first unconference. The format went down well, with a number of people saying how much they enjoyed the more collaborative style both during the day and at the end of the event.
One difference to other unconferences I’ve attended was that, instead of asking people to come up and pitch their ideas for sessions at the front, we were all given three Post-It notes. We wrote down three topics, ideas or thoughts and stuck them on the giant blank agenda.
Collaborative Agenda at AbreLatam 2017
One of the topics of conversation that came up both on this day and subsequent ones was the need to pursue and prosecute laws where they already exist. For instance, in the first session I attended on privacy, a number of attendees said that their country had strong privacy laws but that they were often ignored with impunity by the authorities.
There was also a conference on human rights in San Jose last week and a lawyer attending that told me something similar, that in many cases in Latin America it is not that the law does not confer human rights, but that people’s access to exercising those rights are unequal.
How do you decide how to structure your event? First, you really ought to decide what you are trying to achieve.
I spent a few days in Amsterdam the other week, attending a meeting of the Cross Innovation project that is being led by Birmingham City University. The project has 11 cities taking part and they are looking into policies that can help the creative industries influence other types of business, especially in more traditional areas of the economy.
One of the ways the project is going to attempt this is by looking at brokerage, which they define as being “services offered by agencies that facilitate connections between sectors and individual firms where none previously existed”. The brokerage services that the project has looked into are often events.
It made me think how different events I have hosted and attended are constructed. Also, I thought about how much or little they focus on outcomes.Continue reading
I’m lucky enough to be involved in a number of events this month.
On the 15th November I’ll be going along, and probably talking, at the Chamberlain Forum‘s round table discussion on how open data and communication can help support a Co-operative Council. I’ve been involved in some work on open education data that I’ll be using as an example for that discussion.
The following Monday is our third HyperWM event. HyperWM is an unconference for local government in the West Midlands. As I write this there are still some tickets remaining but they might not be there for long. This year our hosts and sponsors are Sandwell Borough Council and we will be spending the afternoon at The Public in West Bromwich talking about how digital technologies can help us do things better in local government.
I really enjoy the spontaneous feel of an unconference, which is where the participants decide the agenda and pitch to run the sessions at the start of the event. It leads to a lot more enthusiasm about the subject matter and support for other people and their work. It proves that working life isn’t all about Apprentice-like competition, but is far more productive (and fun) when you work in collaboration with others.
Later that week I’ll be spending a couple of days attending Hello Culture. It’s one thing I’ve continued to be involved in since leaving Digital Birmingham, mainly because I’ve enjoyed the previous events so much. I also need to be there because I’ll be chairing the panel on digital and cultural collaborations. Come along and watch me ramble….
Also there at Hello Culture will be IC tomorrow, a Technology Strategy Board programme that “….stimulates innovation and economic growth in the digital sector, by breaking down barriers and opening doors for a new generation of entrepreneurs.”
There is an opportunity for 10 businesses to present at their ?Meet The Innovators 3′ session which will be held on Wednesday November 21. It’s a chance to pitch an idea to a group of cultural organisations and also in front of the people running the IC Tomorrow programme.
Pitchers will also get to meet other people doing interesting digital work within culture and the arts. One organisation will also get a ?5000 award to trial their idea with an organisation that IC Tomorrow will match them with.
Thursday 15th November ~ Chamberlain Forum Co-operative Councils ~ venue tbc
Monday 19th November ~ HyperWM ~ The Public, West Bromwich
Thursday 22nd November – Friday 23rd November ~ Hello Culture ~ Custard Factory