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The Unconference within a conference at State of Open Con

Jennifer Riggins
13th January 2023

One of the most exciting pieces of many at the inaugural State of Open Con aka SOOCon23 are the bits running around and parallel to our more traditional conference sessions. While we have six live-streamed tracks that are dedicated to topic areas — entrepreneurship, open data, open hardware, security, platform engineering, and Government, law and policy — we also are offering many opportunities for free-form collaboration, creativity and play. 

One such area is our unconference, which will be running throughout both days on the second floor of our event space. Organised by our exceptional volunteers Paula Kennedy, Terence Eden and Hannah Foxwell, this is a way to bring your challenges and experimentation to an open and accepting open source community — and hopefully to network and have some fun along the way!

“Unconferences are a great way to speak at a conference without having to do much prep,” as Eden described. “They’re an ideal way to get involved, chat with interesting people, and learn from others.”

The unconference provides the opportunity for self-organised content in the form of “Open Spaces”. Attendees will suggest and vote on topics that they would like to discuss or experiment with, and each activity will run for around 30 to 45 minutes.

This is an inclusive event, and you may find that there is a very broad mix of people in your session. You all have an equal right to participate and to contribute to the discussion. Be open minded, and encourage dialogue, and accept that there can be diverse opinions.

Unconferences are completely what they sound like — the opposite of the programmed portion of the event. What you get is what you get. Even if it’s not exactly what you expected!

Whoever is there are the right people. Whatever sessions are run are the right sessions.

In order to make this a great unconference, we ask you to abide by the following rules:

  • First is the rule of mobility. If you feel you are neither contributing nor learning where you are, it’s OK to go somewhere else. The only person responsible for your experience is you. We promise, it’s OK if you want to dip in and out of these sessions, or leave to get some snacks. Session organisers will not feel bad if you leave part way through — they know that it just means you wanted something else. Generally speaking, if you’re leading a session, then you ought not to be the one who walks out!
  • We also follow the rule of proportion. That is, most people have one mouth and two ears. Use them in that proportion.
  • As with the entire SOOCon, our Code of Respect must be expressly followed. 
  • And, finally, please remember the Chatham House Rule — you are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

We hope that you’ll take some time during your two incredible days spent with us to visit and participate in our Unconference — maybe even pitch a session or two!

Haven’t gotten your ticket yet to the first State of Open Con in London February 7th and 8th? Get your tickets now!

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