Widening Participation in Unconferences


As I sit here and look around the room at the number of people who have paid good money to be here at Content Week, where I am serving as Conference Chair at the moment, it just occurred to me how we can get more of these wonderful, smart, caring people into conversations with us at unconferences. We will likely do this with a future Social Media Club Workshop – if you try it, please let me know how it works.

The idea is similar to what I was talking about with Chris Carfi regarding how we might be able to fully realize our spirit of social entrepreneurism in the software industry – by providing one free license to a 501(c)3 for every licensed copy sold to corporations. Perhaps even create a buddy system, or just enable the corporate purchaser to choose from a list of those non-profits who have shown sufficient interest.  In fact, some non-profits who really want the software in question, would become evangelists, trying to find others who would also benefit from the software.
So what we could do with increasing corporate participation in unconferences is charge a lot of money for corporate attendees to participate – perhaps $1,500 each for a 2 day event. Each corporate participant would have ‘sponsored’ the another under-funded, but highly valued contributor to the conversation, paying for their travel expenses, and perhaps even providing a small stipend. We would need to use a few hundred dollars to offset hard costs, but the end goal is the same – to get the right people in the room, to get the costs covered and to enrich our ability to learn from each other.  Perhaps we can do this with the Informl Learning Unconference we have been speaking about with Jay Cross – or perhaps use this technique to help Nancy White bring her incredibly talented crew of facilitators together.

Just an idea at this point – wonder if it has legs to run?


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