Even though I had never experienced an unconference, I still had a few preconceived ideas of what I might expect from GovCamp Cymru. I was intrigued as to how it might differ to what I call traditional broadcast conferences, where a few speakers share their views of a particular topic as part of a predetermined agenda.
My previous experience was turned completely on its head in a positive way. It was quite a liberating experience, watching and listening to a few people pitching a particular issue and then, the attendees making a decision with their feet as to which pitch they wanted to attend, and to help shape and share potential solutions.
I was also pleasantly surprised at the distances that some of the attendees had come from, with attendees in Wales travelling from as far west as St Davids and as far north as Bangor, and with others travelling from across the border from Liverpool and London.
At the beginning of GovCamp Cymru, attendees were asked who was attending a GovCamp event for the first time. By the old democratic process of a show of hands, about 70% of people were attending for the first time. So my preconceived idea that the event would be full of the usual suspects was blown away.
Have a listen to the experiences of a couple of other attendees.
There was a lot of sharing of ideas and different approaches. There certainly was a lot of ‘what’s your twitter handle, I’ll send you a link to what we were talking about’ kind of conversations. So the sharing was very instantaneous.
So, if you think of GovCamp Cymru as the coalition of the willing, I was quite intrigued as to what difference this event would make when we got back to our day jobs on Monday morning. One attendee even said ‘there’s Sunday first, and social media will enable some new conversations to start, others to continue and gain traction.’
The following morning I read all tweets under the #gccy14 hashtag, where there were people thanking the organisers and sponsors of the event, evidence of attendees sharing more information and ideas, and people asking questions about certain sessions.
And that’s where I picked up more information about of the sessions I didn’t attend. Jo Carter of The Satori Lab had pitched about March Madness. She had already blogged about it and shared the very useful outputs.
So as a result, we’re going to share Jo’s blog to help promote her simple but very useful approach to the annual issue of end of year spend in public services. Several other attendees thought so too, so we’ll share those through our blog, which is evidence itself of GovCamp Cymru’s impact.