let’s confer

It could just be that because we are now organizing mesh we are hyper-sensitive to it (like how when you buy a red car, they are suddenly all you see) but it does seem that there is a lot of discussion on conferences, unconferences, camps, symposia – what have you – right now. For us, it has been especially challenging because we are the only ones working on this, we have never done it before, and the bar for conferencing in the web 2.0 world is seemingly almost impossible to meet. Why? Well, because events run the gamut from a small, super-informal meetup of like-minded folks to talk about what’s cool, up to 10,000 delegates with barcoded "Hi! My Name Is XXXXX" badges dangling from their necks. Problem is that everybody thinks that their way is just super-dee-duper. And we have our own ideas, too. So not easy to find the best way forward.

We spent much of Sunday afternoon talking about what we are hoping is going to be our Third Way – not a pure, casual, completely unstructured thing, but also not the type of seemingly canned event many of us have come to dislike. So what are we doing? Well, it’s not fully baked yet but here are some of the things:

Unconference room. One room at MaRS in the centre of the action, dedicated for folks to use as they will. Set up demos there, blog there, hang out there, strike up a conversation there, arrange a meetup there about a specific topic there. It’s yours – well, all of ours. We will keep the coffee hot and coming – you use it in a way that works for you. We are hoping to set up a wiki to allow for scheduling, but it’s basically all you to program. What do you think of that? Like it? Hate it? We’re trying – tell us.

Untraditional keynotes. We will be doing some as 1:1’s centre stage, with us just talking with some of our guests. No podium, no powerpoint. Just getting into it, hopefully in a smart way. We are working on how else to involve more people in the discussion, without making it turn into a goat rodeo. What say ye?

Workshops. We will be doing small group, nuts-and-bolts sessions with some top-drawer leaders. How do you like the concept?

We are still working on more – like the plumbing of this blog, for instance. And we aren’t done yet. But we wanted to tell you that we really are trying.

Update: Rob posts this morning on the tools we are using to get mesh going, and Mathew talks more about what we are trying to do.

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