Local Gov Camp NW

Once again the un-conference format thunders its’ way into decision and policy making, albeit discretely. The range of attendees at this event impressed me immediately. I dropped in a line about going to an un-conference as an attendee, not as a rep, not as a service manager or as a student and felt it was generally well received. It’s an opportunity to meet, talk to and be heard by a wide range of genuinely interested parties. Within minutes I was discussing bin collections with a councillor, later on it was software with a director. All through the day I kept up a stream of conversation.

I know, as is common to un-conferences, that the larger debates drifted without coming to many conclusions. This is both a curse and a blessing. The ideas that are created in such a chaotic atmosphere can be incredibly imaginative and as difficult to pin down. @Kevupnorth is already working towards a continuation of the session about digital inclusion and education via a twitchat. He’s showing many of us, myself included, how to squeeze more out of the mediums of un-conferences and social networks.

My experiences at the event were limited to smaller groups. We had the chance to involve ourselves more with the issues and agree more on its’ direction. I certainly thought so about Trine Moore who proposed and facilitated my first session: Humanising Technology. With such a broad subject at stake we knew we weren’t going to find a simple answer in 45-minutes. The debate rolled around the table and Trine did a notably fine job of posing questions and encouraging us. The subject matter ranged from Kindle’s to Wii’s, we all recognised the problems with technophobia and debated whether it was ethical leaving the protesters in the desolate digital wasteland to concentrate on those asking for help. Taking horses to water and all that.

I found my session on communication challenging, I struggled to get across my central ideas and couldn’t offer as many solutions as I’d’ve like to. In fact at one point I thought I was becoming the sort of problem communicator I wanted to speak out against:/ I gratefully accepted a lifeline from @laurafox1 for some help dealing with aggression at work. I’m keen to read any blogs or posts about that session. I know I am a harsh critic and that there were lots of positive stories to come out of the session.

The session I’d deliberated more than the others, on Open Source software, proved to be a highlight for me. It could be because I gained so much knowledge that the rest of the group already knew that I enjoyed it so. The group was small but comfortable with each other, I think this was the most well-balanced group with everyone getting involved in the conversation and @JHarkin blogging and tweeting on the go:) I won’t go into too much detail here other than to say I becoming more of a convert to the Open Source cause

The lightning talks at the end MC’d by @Pigsonthewing were a chance to find out a little more about a subject within a, brutally enforced, 3 minute time period. I picked up some tips and tricks and when the queries weren’t relevant, I quietly enjoyed a beer provided by our gracious hosts. Cheers! This final, well lubricated session could have been a lot more interesting, but suffered from the weather damaging people’s travel plans. As I only had 20 miles to travel I felt disappointed that more didn’t stay for the duration, If only for the full beer bottles left:/

What did happen to those bottles Ken?

Ken!, Keeeeeeeeeen!



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