Liked the concept of the ‘unconference’ talked up on Geek TV by Chris Pirillo and Ponzi in promoting Gnomedex in Seattle this July, where not too much in the way of topics or speakers planned in advance (“they tell us why Gnomedex is not your father’s geek conference, etc..”). Guess it’s a bit of the people before technology approach they also profile. Which by way of coincidence leads back to a Headshift piece profiled on Robin Good’s blog..not to mention Dan’s recent piece on Contactivity.
This being Sunday it reminds me of a quote in Andrew Kopkind’s ‘The Thirty Years Wars’ about the rise and fall of the 60s and a lot more besides. Reporting in 1965 from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he says of their approach: “It is anarchic rather than monolithic, social more than economic, downward pointing rather than pyramidal in organization. It is supremely undisciplined. There is no plan, no program. SNCC’s major effort in the South this summer will be the ‘Let the People Speak’ conferences held in several states and then perhaps, regionwide. “We want the people to tell us what we can do. We’ll do anything they tell us,” said John Lewis, SNCC chairman.
By a twist of fate I had the good fortune to meet Julian Bond, one of the SNCC leaders at a civil rights history ‘conference’ in Newcastle in 1998 (shortly after returning from covering the 30th anniversary of the dealth of MLK for the BBC, coincidentally). And I asked him about the truth of SNCC’s ‘unconference’ approach: ‘no plan/no program’. And he replied “that’s just because they really didn’t know what they were doing!”