A crash course in changing the world.
An unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered around a theme or purpose. The term "unconference" has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as high fees and sponsored presentations. For example, in 2006, CNNMoney applied the term to diverse events including BarCamp, Bloggercon, and Mashup Camp. The term is primarily used in the geek community, though as of 2009 it has also started to appear in the travel industry.
Most unconference features (facilitated, participant-driven conference centered on a theme or purpose, but without high fees and sponsored presentations) match the characteristics of the traditional science fiction convention held since the 1930s, events which include many members of the geek community.
Harrison Owen developed the Open Space Technology format/method in the mid 1980's. He published Open Space Technology: a User's Guide, in 1993. This book discussed many of the techniques now associated with unconferences, although his book does not use the term "unconference."
Consultants Camp started by Jerry Weinberg has been using the Open Space Technology method for their week long conference since 1988.
The term unconference first appeared in an announcement for the annual XML developers conference in 1998.
Open Space Technology was part of the Agile Universe Conference program in 2002.
FooCamp is an invitation-only event for the Friends of O'Reilly that was created by Tim O'Reilly and Sara Winge the VP of Corporate Communications for O'Reilly Media. Sara drew on her experience of open space and conversations with Harrison Owen to develop the format  The first one happened October 10-12, 2003. In 2005 some of the attendees from previous years decided to produce their own "Bar" Camp.
These three different events, BloggerCon, FooCamp and BarCamp were all part of popularizing the term "unconference". Foo and Bar Camp in particular popularized the form where "there is no agenda until .. the attendees made one up."
In December 2009, the first travel industry unconference was held in the Austrian Alps with an attendance of over 20 people from 10 countries.
Unconferences and the EVOKE network seem like such complimentary forces, don't they?
I can see how they would fit wonderfully together -- but then again, I'm already a convert to the unconference (I'm going to this one in a couple of weeks!).
I think EVOKE agents might need to be introduced to the concept before they are willing and able to sign on.
CrisisCamp and ChangeCamp are two unconference series that I think might be of interest to Evoke members. Do you know of others you think your fellow agents would be interested in?