14 Comments

Summary:

In previous posts, I’ve talked about attending local events and meetups or scheduling new ones if you can’t find any that meet your needs. In this post, I wanted to talk about something bigger than the typical meetup: community-organized events. BarCamps, unconferences, and similar events have […]

Photo by Selena Marie

Photo by Selena Marie

In previous posts, I’ve talked about attending local events and meetups or scheduling new ones if you can’t find any that meet your needs. In this post, I wanted to talk about something bigger than the typical meetup: community-organized events. BarCamps, unconferences, and similar events have been popping up all over the world in increasing frequency. I’m an organizer for the local BarCamp in Portland, and I have attended many of these types of events. I’m planning to attend BarCampAustin this weekend, which is running in parallel with SXSW.

The organization of these events is very different from typical commercial events. While commercial events tend to be organized by professional organizers who are being paid to produce the conference, community organized events are often organized by unpaid volunteers from the community who are passionate about the topic. Both types of events have their strengths and weaknesses and their place in the industry, but both are also very different in both organization and attendance.

Attendance

I have noticed that many organizers and a high percentage of attendees of BarCamps tend to be web workers. Maybe web workers tend to enjoy the self-organizing format and are passionate enough about their work to attend these events, many of which are held on weekends. Since many of us are self-employed, the free or very low cost nature of unconferences may appeal to those of us who don’t have a big company’s training budget to pay for the more expensive events.

Organization

Community organized events come with a special set of challenges for organizers, including:

  • Putting together a really solid team of people who can meet deliverables and commit the time to organize the event without getting paid.
  • Dealing with sponsorships and other monetary contributions by partnering with or forming a legal entity to handle the money.
  • Finding sponsors or other contributions to fund event expenses.
  • Budgeting for the event and dealing with unexpected costs.
  • Estimating attendance and finding an affordable venue with a space that works well for your needs (unconferences have different needs than traditional conferences).
  • Promoting the event to make sure that the right people know about it.

I frequently attend both “traditional” commercial conferences and community events, and my preference is starting to drift toward community events. I feel like I get a broader perspective, and I seem to learn more at community events. I would love to hear more about your experiences with community events, including advantages and disadvantages, and challenges and opportunities.

What is your experience with attending or organizing community organized events?

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Bar Camps are great at getting like minded people in a room brainstorming and discussing their ideas. Does anything similar exist in the UK, if so I would love to know the details.

  2. WebWorkerDaily » Archive Audrey Eschright: Web Worker and Community Conference Organizer « Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    [...] 11th, 2009 (9:00am) Dawn Foster No Comments In a follow up to my recent post about Community Organized Events, Unconferences and BarCamps, I interviewed Audrey Eschright, a web worker with years of experience of organizing a wide variety [...]

  3. Sunny, there are plenty of BarCamps in the UK. Here’s a list: http://barcamp.org/#UnitedKingdom

  4. @Sunny yep, there are plenty of barcamps and similar events here. Good luck getting a ticket to BarCamp London – it’s very popular.

  5. Blogging Elsewhere at Consulting, Online Communities, and Social Media: Fast Wonder Blog Sunday, March 15, 2009

    [...] Community Organized Events, Unconferences and BarCamps [...]

  6. WebWorkerDaily » Archive Community-Organized Events vs. Traditional Conferences « Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    [...] on WebWorkerDaily, I talked about the differences in they way that the community conferences are organized and posted an interview with Audrey Eschright, a BarCamp and unconference organizer. In this post, [...]

  7. The Next Web: April 15-17th, Amsterdam Monday, March 23, 2009

    [...] Next Web is now in its fourth year and will open with a day of unconference events as a lead-in to two days of scheduled keynotes, startup demos, awards and an expo hall. [...]

  8. The Next Web: April 15-17, Amsterdam Monday, March 23, 2009

    [...] Next Web is now in its fourth year and will open with a day of unconference events as a lead-in to two days of scheduled keynotes, startup demos, awards and an expo hall. [...]

  9. The Next Web: April 15-17, Amsterdam | SpecialityMoney.com Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    [...] Next Web is now in its fourth year and will open with a day of unconference events as a lead-in to two days of scheduled keynotes, startup demos, awards and an expo hall. [...]

  10. Coworking Stories: Eclau Founder, Stephanie Booth Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    [...] the long term, I’d like to see more drop-ins, and events like small *camps or conferences taking place at [...]

  11. Coworking Stories: Eclau Founder, Stephanie Booth | SpecialityMoney.com Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    [...] the long term, I’d like to see more drop-ins, and events like small *camps or conferences taking place at [...]

  12. Coworking Stories: Eclau Founder, Stephanie Booth | WORK Thursday, April 9, 2009

    [...] the long term, I’d like to see more drop-ins, and events like small *camps or conferences taking place at [...]

  13. Freelance Camp: Coming Soon to a City Near You Monday, August 31, 2009

    [...] Santa Cruz, California, and there have been five of them held in various cities so far. Similar to BarCamps and other unconferences, the agenda is flexible in order to promote learning and free exchange of ideas: “The concept [...]

  14. FreelanceCamp PRO Coming to San Francisco Monday, May 10, 2010

    [...] 2010, 12:00pm PDT No Comments      0 FreelanceCamp PRO, a BarCamp-style “unconference” for freelancers, will be hosting its next event on June 5 in San Francisco. It will consist [...]

Comments have been disabled for this post