Un-conferences are the future

April 19, 2009

I had the opportunity today to attend eDemocracyCamp2 in Washington, DC, an un-conference modelled after the BarCamp conferences going on across the country.

Edemcamp is an un-conference – described as “an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants who are the main actors of the event.”Β  They started with BarCamp in a couple cities, and have no sprung up all over the country in various cities and covering various topics. The gov 2.0 community recently held TransparencyCamp and Gov2.0Camp, and this weekend was eDemocracyCamp, which focused on participation and citizen engagement.

I’ve been to a whole lot of conferences, but this was my first un-conference, and I loved how totally different it was. It’s laidback and informal, free, and best of all, anyone who has an idea can show up in the morning and even decide to lead a session.

So, I did just that. I led a session on youth participation beyond election day. It was a really cool conversation and lots of people had a lot to say on the topic, and I’m excited to see how youth participation in politics will change in the future. I’ll be posting notes/a transcript sometime soon πŸ™‚

The best thing about the un-conference is the grassroots, informal atmosphere that allows everyone to share their experiences and generate ideas together, creatively, rather than just listen to the experts.Β  Definitely a great experience -I love the un-conference phenomenon that is growing all over the country and I definitely recommend anyone with an interest and a barcamp near them, go to it!

Tomorrow begins the Politics Online conference, which explores the intersection of technology and politics — look for a few more posts and potentiallt video posts from me from the conference in Washington.



  1. I love un-conferences!

    I couldn’t afford to go to SXSW, so I went to BarCamp Austin instead. Some of the people who went to SXSW said that BarCamp was actually better, and some of the people who gave lectures at SXSW came to BarCamp anyway. It’s a great medium to share information and meet a lot of really insightful people!

    • I know what you mean — real conferences are pricey but conferences have a much lower barrier to participation and allow everyone to get involved. Glad to hear you enjoyed Barcamp πŸ™‚

  2. What I love the most is that you actually led a session. I think it’s so easy for our generation (even the Brazen ones) to sit back out of the limelight and just try to absorb all the information from our elder peers. You took something that you could own, that you knew more about than most and you stepped up. That’s awesome Nisha!

    And correct me if I’m wrong but not only did it showcase you as a leader, but through the feedback of the attendees you were probably able to learn a lot more than if you were a casual observer in a similar setting.

    All the best.


    • Thanks dude! My session didn’t go quite in the direction I was hoping for, but was still really interesting and a fun experience, and it did generate a lot of conversaation and feedback as you said.

  3. Thanks for participating today. Glad you liked it!

    • Thanks for all your hard work Tim. SO unfortunate you couldn’t make it!

  4. Ok, Nisha, we really have to have a chat. I thought I was on top of developments, but apparently the world is passing me by. Un-conferences and eDemocracy. Oh my! A whole world that I know nothing about!!!

    • Don’t worry, we’ll talk soon. Just check out barcamp.org – it explains a lot of this stuff really well… πŸ™‚

  5. Absolute coolness.In my opinion, this is probably a better way to network and discuss politics and social justice causes. I think if people adopted the attitude/question, “How can we collaborate better?” such conferences would been around a lot longer. I love hearing about this kind of stuff – keep up the good work.

    • Thanks. I do agree the open, collaborative setup is a great way to network. Have you been to any in Chicago?

  6. I do feel like un-conferences will be the future and is definitely appealing to different fields (I am attending a un-conference in about two weeks for marketing). I have never been to one before and am looking forward to it because it seems like it will be very laid back and really give people the opportunity to interact with each other. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Isn’t it great that there’s unconferences for pretty much every topic? I think you will enjoy it– the laidback atmosphere is really welcoming and generate a lot of creative ideas and discussion.

  7. These sound like fascinating events, we don’t have anything like this in the UK as far as I’m aware. I’m tempted to see if I can set something up on the back of this. I’m sure it would go down well!

  8. @David

    Check out BarcampUKGovweb (held for the second time this past January in London): http://barcamp.org/BarcampUKGovweb09 and http://www.ukgovweb.org/

    • Thanks Tim, I was doing a bit of research after reading Nisha’s article. I will most certainly attend the next one, I’m intrigued to see how these events pan out.

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