The Conference Curve of Despair or the Unconference Line of Elation?

It's probably best to start by saying that I'm wholeheartedly not the demographic for this blog post. I'm one of the lucky ones. I get to travel to a lot of conferences and speak at them. These can be close to home, further afield in Europe or across the other side of the Atlantic in America. This is most definitely not the usual state of affairs for most people, they tend to experience what I call the conference curve of despair. It goes something like this.

You find a conference. The theme, the topic, the genre .. fits. You look at the speaker list and they look good, informed, witty, erudite, educated. So far so good.

But then you see that it costs. Your company may not think that this is a suitable conference, if it allows you to go to conferences at all. And it's not just that you have to pay to attend, the delegate price alone is, shall we say, on the steep side. And you'll need to travel to get to it. That means air fares. And hotel accommodation. And it remains a fact that the United States continues to host some of the best and respected industry conferences.

Your initial enthusiasm has been tempered by the hard facts of just how much time and money you'll have to find in order to attend. It's a roller coaster, up one side and down the other.You're probably not going to go, are you?But it's not always like this. You find another conference. The theme, the topic, the genre ... fits. You look at the speaker list and not only are they informed, witty, erudite and educated but you can get the chance to speak just by writing your name and the talk title on a PostIt note and slapping it on a wall in a free slot.

So far so good and this isn't what you expect. It's not a conference, it's an unconference. It gets better. It's not merely cheap to attend, it's actually free. It's close to you and it's not in the States. Of course, there's a geo angle to all of this and the unconference I have in mind is WhereCamp Europe, an unconference inspired by Foo Camp and the Silicon Valley Where Camp which traditionally follows Where 2.0. Put together by a group of organisers including myself and folk from OpenStreetMapCloudMade, (ex)Microsoft and Ito World to name but a few.Last week we announced 75 early bird tickets ... and they went ... in less than two hours. So if you like the sound of this, block out March 12th and 13th 2010, get yourself one of the next batch of tickets and head to the Guardian's new offices in London's Kings Cross.After all, the unconference line of elation is far far preferable to the conference line of despair.

Gary Gale

I'm Gary ... a Husband, Father, CTO at Kamma, geotechnologist, map geek, coffee addict, Sci-fi fan, UNIX and Mac user