Talking with E tonight about how many people we know are involved in organising their own events, we made a quick list. That list now contains 38 people, most of which we’ve known for a long time. That’s a group big enough to do a unconference / barcamp style event about event organising in itself!

The experiences of those people run from small workshops to global conferences. Myself, I’ve been active across that full spectrum as well. From BlogWalks and IndieWebCamps with two dozen people, our birthday unconferences (40 people in our home, 100 at the subsequent bbq), to national conferences, side-events at European and global conferences, European conferences in different countries with 300-400 people, to an edition of the global FabLab conference. The interesting bit is that for myself and almost all of the people on the list we just made, organising events wasn’t/isn’t our main activity. Often those events basically are a side activity, an emergent property of other work.

Ross Mayfield in a blog conversation in 2005 said “it’s cheaper to host your own event than attend one”. Not always cheaper I know, but it’s definitely more logical a lot of times. It’s a logic E and I, and those many people we listed just now have followed for about two decades now. Where can you and us take that the coming years?

De Open State Foundation en SETUP lanceren de SOS Tech Awards gericht op transparantie en verantwoordelijkheid in de digitale samenleving.

De Glass & Black Box Awards gaan over openheid en transparantie. De Dode & Levende Mussen Award gaan over verantwoordelijkheid nemen na technologische missers, en de mate waarin bedrijven en overheden niet alleen excuus aanbieden maar ook echt hun handelen aanpassen. De genomineerden worden in de komende weken bekend gemaakt. De SOS Tech Awards worden op dinsdag 23 maart 2021 uitgereikt via een livestream vanuit de centrale Bibliotheek Utrecht.

(In het kader van transparantie: ik ben bestuurslid bij de Open State Foundation)

Today we joined the HSTM20 Unconference, organised by our friend Oliver with logistics support from Peter, who live on Prince Edward Island in Canada. HSTM stands for Home Stuff That Matters, that last bit is a nod to our STM birthday unconferences, so this is as Peter said today, another branch on the evolving tree of unconference events.

The Home, in Home Stuff That Matters points to us all being home due to the pandemic, and to the two questions we discussed. What have you learned from the pandemic that you want to keep for the future? What do you like about the place where you live?

We were over 25 people, from around the world, across ten time zones, so from morning coffee time to end of afternoon, and evening. It was a nice mix of familiar faces and new ones, spending two hours in conversation. It was good to see dear friends, as well as meeting people again we first met last year when we visited Peter, Catherine and Oliver on PEI for a face to face unconference.

The event also showed how well Zoom works. With over 25 participants from literally around the world, with a wide variety of bandwith and tech savviness it worked without issue, splitting up from a plenary into multiple groups and rejoining into a plenary. It’s in a different class than other tools I’ve been using, even with its dubious information ethics.

Regrouping ourselves as Oliver’s tribe this time, it was an excellent way to kick-off our weekend.

Part of Oliver’s tribe in conversation today

Op 12 maart vindt in Utrecht een bijeenkomst plaats om allerlei organisaties rondom Public Tech en Civic Tech bij elkaar te brengen. Om onze gezamenlijke inspanningen te vergelijken en te kijken waar we elkaar kunnen steunen. Dit stond al een langere tijd op mijn taken- en verlanglijstje. Code for NL heeft nu het voortouw genomen om te zorgen dat het ook plaatsvindt. Rondom civic tech, technologie die het algemeen nut ondersteunt, en public tech, de technologie zoals die door onze overheden en instituten wordt gebruikt, is er wat mij betreft een nieuw maatschappelijk middenveld nodig. Omdat het kennisniveau in de Nederlandse maatschappij en het bestuur bijzonder laag ligt over wat er kan, wat verstandig is en wat niet. Organisaties die in dit gebied actief zijn kunnen door onderlinge uitwisseling en meer gezamenlijk optreden denk ik veel meer maatschappelijk impact bewerkstellingen. Als je een organisatie vertegenwoordigd die ook op dit vlak actief is, kijk dan even op Meet-Up voor meer informatie.

Today E and I concluded we have a cool event space right around the corner. While we were thinking about whether or not to do an unconference this spring (we decided not to, in the car to France two weeks ago), I realised a building around the corner from us seemed to have new occupants. Until then it had only been in use on Sundays by a local church community.

The building itself is from 2007, when this area was newly built, and it was intended to serve as theater and community meeting and event space. A few years later it went bankrupt, and since then it wasn’t used except for Sunday services.
But late last year it has re-opened, under the name De Kamers (the rooms)

We visited today and saw how it is a very informal and warmly decorated place with lots of daylight. With a number of different spaces, a professional kitchen and large outside area. Perfect for unconferences like ours, where creating a relaxed informal atmosphere is important, and very close to our home, almost like it is an extension of it. It left us imagining what we could do with it. It would be a shame to not use a beautiful facility like that. We will receive an indication of costs soon, to help us guide our thinking as to how and when we might put that venue to good use.

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