WhateverCamp – what do people want? #unconferences

I love unconferences held in the barcamp/open space style, love attending, love presenting, love facilitating. I know lots of others who do to. Every time I do one, everyone’s buzzing about how great it was. We put the focus on connecting people with each other rather than facing forward and listening to us and it really works. But it often seems that there’s not quite enough supply for the demand. To date we’ve relied mostly on goodwill: sponsorship money often goes on beer & pizza, t-shirts and sometimes a facilitator but sponsorship also comes in kind, in the form of venue and catering. Certainly among public service unconferences, the organisers usually do this as “part of their day job” or for the love of it, but there’s only a certain number of people who can do that.

As part of my business model thinking, I’ve been looking at shifting the unconference organisational model slightly to see if we could create a (more) commercial way of putting on more events, in more places about more things.

In my view, the demand is not only for new or more refined subject areas, it’s also about locality. So there’s a question of whether you do one big national thing (and if you do whether or not you do it in #ThatLondon) or lots of regional variants (and if you do and if a person can only go to one, which one she should choose). Then there’s something about running events that reflect some particular need in a region or local community.

Anyway, before getting too carried away, always ask the community first, so I asked on Twitter the other day:

  • “So if you could go to an unconference on *any* subject, which would you choose? Is there a *camp that you’re itching to have?”

This is my grouping of the answers, your categories and analysis may differ…

Sex/Love & Relationships/Intimacy

  • Terence Eden suggested: “SexCamp. Or, perhaps, LoveAndRelationshipsCamp.”
  • backed up by Anke Holst who’d been to Cassie Robinson‘s Intimacy Lab at Hack the Barbican and Chris Pinchen who had “tried to do Sexcamp in Barcelona – complicated but currently working on something similar”

How we work together

  • Tim Lloyd went for “workcamp: how the workplace is being changed by tech, working longer, economy, attitudes etc” … “Particularly from a civil service perspective…”
  • and Jayne Hilditch asked for “Intrapreneur Camp”


  • raised by Janet Davis: “CreativeCamp (I’ve wanted to do this for 3 years!) :-)” which reminded me of the many talks about doing a CreativeCollaborationCamp. Janet also emphasised the geographical issue “I’d like to have one up in Newcastle or Gateshead (& for more reasons than just because travelling is a problem for me :-)”


  • In here I include Lars Plougmann’s “3D-printed open source autonomous drone camp”
  • and this from Mark O’Neill: “redwireorbluewirecamp, but only if it is going to happen in the next 27 minutes. 26 minutes ….”

And then…

  • I remembered that after LocalGovCamp last year there was excited talk about a proposed SocialCareCamp – did that go anywhere? And after the first HousingCamp people suggested one in the North – again, I’m not sure where that went.

So some interesting ideas – please add in any knowledge you have of these or others you’d like to do in the comments.

And if you want to help thinking through how we might run many more of these things than are already on offer, give me a shout.

(BTW if you haven’t seen it, or if you’ve no idea what I’m going on about take a look at the little film that was shot at #housingcamp)