BlogCamp came and went. The whole event is bound to come under a mountain of criticism if there is enough digging done. For the money it raised and the people who came in, it could have been so much better, gone so much further and been so much more useful and entertaining. The positive aspects of the event are obvious and enough said – that meeting some of the bloggers, and to put faces to their URLs, engage in conversations outside the hall were some of the best aspects of the event. Blogging doesn’t just change your surfing habits or make you arrange your personal information a certain way. The power to publish and broadcast comes with a great sense of vulnerability. Your circle of influence, friends, impact and knowledge changes dramatically. The challenge is perhaps in resolving the dichotomy by acknowledging it – and dealing with it in one’s own way.
An unconference is not a “cool” concept. It makes sense only if a conference mode is not effective. Conferences can be very effective. Now, an unconference when it comes to blogging makes sense somewhat if you consider that there are many experts, and mostly expertise is due to experience, and that one desires that the “users generate content”. Which is all fine and nice if there is a “tighter” theme that could possibly bind the entire event. An unconference also has potential to topple the usual hierarchy that exists in many conferences that completely limits experiences and content. (Remember We Media?)
My idea of an unconference is smaller sessions running simultaneously. But somewhere things began to go a little wrong. However, some of the presentations were brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed some of the sessions that were more conversationsal and engaging. Dina, Peter, Kiran and others were key in tying together some of the sessions. But given that it was a first of sorts, perhaps it will take a few such events to get used to the entire concept. While an unconference mode may work well for a BarCamp – a BlogCamp simply doesn’t get the same sort of people. Apart from all this – I couldn’t help but notice the outsider/ insider divide. Any unconference is only as good as its participants. This one had a lot more promise, but it’ll take time before we get used to this much of movement within an event.
The IRC channel at this conference was quite a let down. In all honesty, IRC chatter has a way of getting out of hand and is usually quite “noisy”. Lots of distractions, parallel conversations and arbitrary comments are the norm. However, in this particular instance – the conversation was almost unpalatable at points.
What this could potentially do is open up blogging to other ways. The more we talk, and however dispersed the conversation maybe, the more you discover where the gaps are and they can be filled. Blogging is a tool. It doesn’t make people equal or make them smarter. (Maybe it does actually – I know I’ve been reading a lot more ever since I’ve started blogging.) It’s a relatively user-friendly and dynamic tool that will go only as far as a user will take it. Just because a person blogs doesn’t mean that person is open to any kind of conversation. Blogging like any other activity or way of doing things amplifies what we already are. The entire notion of a “community” is only generic, it’s not supposed to signify some sort of homogenous existence. There are many communities.
There is a big difference between a Disorganized conference and an Unconference. The fun is in getting from the first to the second. What’s the point if everything was that easy! Besides all that excitement and energy definitely does give a headrush.