If "all the good stuff at a conference happens in the hallway", an self organizing un-conference is way to have nothing but "hallway".
I attended such a conference this last weekend, and it was great.
What was so interesting about the event is that it self-organized: attendees planned it Friday night on-the-fly (missed that part myself, sadly), using a big white-board and full-page post-its to lay out sessions.
The schedule continued to evolve on Saturday, as anyone could add or move a session by adjusting that board.
Some sessions were led by leaders, others were more discussions; the quality of sessions was quite high.
About 50 or 60 really nice smart tech folks attended. Great location (Fry Springs Beach Club) and delicious food and beer.
Totally free -- no fees for conference, t-shirt, wifi, beer, or kebabs -- all covered by generous sponsors. So kudos and thanks to all BeCamp sponsors:
- University of Virginia ITC
- Monticello Avenue
- OpenSource Connections
(We're looking forward to sponsoring the next camp, sometime this fall.)
I met a bunch of really nice local tech folks and enjoyed a day of geek talks: scaling Ruby, Firebug, advanced CSS, tools for distributed teams, intro Scrum, and the history and future of the tech community in C'ville.
The self-organization really worked and was cool to watch happening.
Would this self-organizing meeting format work for other fields, beside technology?
Would this work for, say, an online marketing conference?
Or would the retailer/vendor divide get in the way of sharing?
Not sure, but after thoroughly enjoying my first un-conference, I'm a new fan of the format.