I have to eat my words and offer a public apology to Josh Hallet, whose BlogOrlando UnConfererence I questioned the validity of in this forum.
In that piece, I charged that UnConferences were essentially anti-capitalistic over-reactions to the sins of the current approach to conferences. I questioned their value, recalling an UnConference I attended at the ripe young age of 16 which degenerated in to chaos.
I got some feedback from people telling me that I shouldn’t be so harsh in my judgement of UnConferences, that I should attend one before I make such rash statements in the future.
Such an opportunity arose this weekend when I attended PodCamp Boston, a gathering of podcasters and videocasters designed to teach each other what they’ve learned about the art, craft and business of podcasting.
An agenda that looked informative and useful emerged as the days for the conference approached. An impressive list of experts and well known figures within podcasting steadily grew as well, making the conference that much more valuable for me to attend.
It was a free conference, but it was looking early on like something of great value to me, so I signed on as a $250 sponsor — which I would have been glad to pay anyway just to rub elbows with the quality of people who would be attending.
The sessions moved along quickly and were quite lively with enthusiastic participation from the attendees — much more so than other conferences I’ve attended where people tend to fall into catatonic states unless the speaker was particularly charismatic.
Anti-capitalistic? Hardly. The organizers did all they could to facilitate good networking and introducing those who would benefit greatly from meeting each other.
I learned a great deal in the time I was there, and hope I was useful to others as well. Not only that, despite being a dyed in the wool introvert, I ended up joining three local organizations which will help continue the learning path I’m on. It will also help me in my networking about, learning more of the right people that I should be talking to.
So Josh, you were right, I was wrong. The UnConference can in fact be a tremendous opportunity to learn more about the topics you are interested in.
I would recommend corporate bloggers seek out these venues as well to increase their knowledge on their blogging skills. They only cost you the time, energy and knowledge you put into them — which will serve to increase their value substantially.