Unconferences are meetings driven by the participants rather than by the speakers. An unconference has no agenda, and its success depends on the active participation and interaction between those present. An interesting point about unconferences is that their emergent and self-organized behavior can be explained today by the same complexity theories that explain the emergence of collective intelligence in social networks.
The PLE Conference 2012 itself is not an unconference but, following a tradition initiated a couple of years ago, its organizers would like the keynote sessions to become unkeynotes. No one knows what an unkeynote is, so there is a lot of room for maneuver, but, in simple terms, an unkeynote could be seen as a keynote with no “sages on the stage”. In fact, all audience and no stage.
If we push a little further the inspiration from unconferences (and skip the details of the underlying complexity theories), we can propose a model where the speakers collect ideas from the audience, let the audience reflect and interact inspired by these ideas, and finally synthesize the lot into a discourse that also integrates the speakers’ views. Hopefully, this discourse, and the collective activity leading to it, will inspire the activities of the conference.
We have been invited to be the co-speakers for the unkeynote of the first day. So, we propose the following model:
1) The unkeynote starts now!
2) We ask participants to join the unkeynote willing to interact and (possibly) to change their minds.
3) We would like to receive from you questions on PLEs, no longer than 500 characters. These questions will hopefully be answered during the live session of the unkeynote. Please send no answers, no theories, no models, no diagrams, no slides – just questions!
4) At the conference, in the first half of the time devoted to the unkeynote, we will invite people from the audience to step forward and give their (brief) answers to the questions of their choice (we could use a variation of a “fishbowl”).
5) In the second half of the conference we will try improvise a wrap-up.
To inspire your questions, we will suggest a few example questions in our next posts. A simple way of submitting your own questions is to post them as comments to this message.
Two options seem possible regarding the wrap-up. One is to present it as a set of slides. If we adopt it, we need to stop accepting questions by July 6, so that we have time to work on the slides. The other option is to keep accepting questions until the July 11, in which case the warp-up would be off-the-cuff. Which one would your prefer? The slides may look more organized, but a video of the wrap-up may be richer.
Frances Bell and Antonio Figueiredo