Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
Vancouver, B.C. Canada 2003
con-fer-ence (knfr-ns, -frns)
A meeting for consultation or discussion.
An exchange of views.
I hesitated to use the word ‘conference’ because of its association with the costly, corporate gatherings that have become so common. But conference does mean, among other things, “a meeting for discussion…an exchange of views”, and I can’t think of anything else what describes what I’d like to see happen within the weblogging community.
Is it possible to bring people from around the world to one place, to break bread together, to lift a cup (filled with water or wine) in salute ? Is it possible to gather people from around the world in one place, to meet, to talk, to exchange ideas? To gather together views as diverse as the people themselves?
And to do so without having to have a whole lot of money in advance?
The last is the rub, isn’t it?
The city is Vancouver, B.C in Canada. The time is sometime in 2003. The purpose is to bring together weblogging folks — technologists, philosophers, business people, artists, and writers (which includes all of us) — together in one spot. To meet, to socialize, to exchange ideas and views and knowledge; in essence, to see how far we can take this medium.
And to do so wtihout having to have a whole lot of money in advance.
I know that the Blog-Con organizers were able to do have their ‘convergence’ primarily by focusing their get-togethers within attendance-based social venues, such as restaurants. Without having to rent conference space, the preliminary expenses could be kept down, and the costs would then be absorbed by each person paying their own way.
However, restaurants and hotels rooms only work to a point. You need rooms for ‘working sessions’ for want of a better term. For instance, getting weblogging techies together with consumers to strategize technology advances in the next year or two. To have several ‘birds-of-a-feather’ sessions centered around various topics in individual rooms, in addition to panel discussions amidst an audience that is encouraged to participate.
I’m not talking formal speech, with row after row of tables and chairs, and crews with microphones and lights and canned music. But I am talking about rooms with chairs and privacy and the ability for people to speak out without the clash of dishes and the worry of disturbing other diners. Add to this is the need for some technology to enable communication, both within the sessions, and without — to share the events with those who cannot attend
And sure, we’ll also have time to meet friends never met; to have dinner in small groups and large; to walk about, to see the city, to take a boat ride, and to view the Orcas, because weblogging is more than just ‘computers hooked up via the internet’.
This is all doable, but is it doable without organizational ownership? Can we pull this off by ourselves, using our own ingenuity, and manage to keep the costs down so that those who want to attend can afford to attend?
As a start for ideas:
Could we get enough people interested in attending to fill a conference hotel that will then give us the conference rooms gratis? Are there colleges in the area that would be willing to let us use rooms? How about restaurants — do they have meeting rooms that we can get for the cost of the meals?
For those of us who are driving, are we willing to share our cars for the ride? I’m coming from St. Louis, and I have room for three others in my car.
Dave Winer mentioned ideas for a conference, and he used the term adhocracy in reference to it. We got all excited and managed to push the idea up the Daypop flag pole. Now that we’re all calmer, what do we need to do to make this work, without depending on the traditional conference machine?
Update I don’t want to start up a counter-conference conflict. Dave mentioned in the comments that there people working this already, possibly being held at a university.
I’ll focus on the book instead, with appreciations in advance to those who are working this quietly behind the scenes. However, I do have a suggestion: put the thoughts, efforts, and planning online in a weblog; get others involved.