Unconferences Cover article of Convene Magazine

For those of you who have never heard of Convene magazine it is for the “Professional Convention Management Association” The cover says “Lights! Content! Action! : The unconference, the virtually boundless meeting and other scenes from the content revolution p.46” It has a picture of a stylized business man and woman putting lightbulbs into a bigger light bulb – like building the light bulb. It kinda makes sense.

I am quoted several times in The Power of UN article.

Plus, they’re inevitable. It’s simply a given that the increased interactivity of the workplace will show up in the conference space, said Kaliya Hamlin, who in November was named to Fast Company’s list of the 13 most influential women in Web 2.0. Hamlin, “chief process officer” of Process Geeks, has facilitated more than 50 unconferences over the last three years, in high-tech as well as more traditional settings. She expects that interactive methods such as the unconference will disrupt the “groove that meeting planners have been in forever” of scheduling speakers and presentations six to nine months out, and creating meetings where the real work actually gets done during coffee breaks. Hamlin is a critic of traditional conferences – not because she discounts the value of meetings, but because she believes passionately in their potential to solve problems.

“I think there is a lot of uncertainty on the part of conference organizers who feel they have to have a preplanned agenda,” Hamlin said, “so that people will invest their time” in traveling to a conference. But it’s a mistake to think that keynotes are what bring people to a conference. “What is really valuable is the face time for conversations about critical issues and emerging developments,” Hamlin said. “Community is what brings people together. Supporting community interactivity is what gives conferences value.”

Interactive methods will work for anybody, Hamlin said, but they “must map to the way that professional communities interact with each other.” It’s a matter of trusting the facilitator or meeting designer to meet a community where it is culturally, she said.

In instances where Hamlin helps organizations incorporate unconference methods where they are unfamiliar, she often suggests that one traditional day of programming be followed by a day in which participants organize the content. Her clients often love the open-space day and find that experiencing them lessens their appetites for traditional conferences. “They like them a lot less,” Hamlin said, “and consider them to be ineffective.”

Open space is an awesome tool to use to deal with complexity, she said. “Magic happens in terms of collective understanding and breakthoughs.”

What is kind of amazing about this coverage is that I also was highlighted this month in Fast Company as one of the Most Influential Women in Technology for my other career in Identity. I wrote this article for them about the women working in user-centric digital identity with me.

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