Part of being away for 2006 was missing a lot of the un-conferences, like Bar Camp and Seattle's MindCamp, even though I was part of the early planning. Moose Camp, my first un-conference, is an un-conference in the same tradition as the others - relaxed atomosphere, open discussion, people focus, etc. My kind of event.
Before the conference started, I submitted a title on the wiki for a Moose Camp talk called "New Rules for the New Communities" - and then mostly forgot about it. This morning I found myself doing a 30 second pitch for a talk that had disappeared into the recesses of my mind. I think I said "Communities used to be based on message boards and listserves, now we're seeing a number of new forms of community tools that are changing the way we think about community on the web."
Thankfully, the whole idea of un-preparation fits nicely with an un-conference, where no one wants to see another bullet point or product pitch. Nancy White and I decided to co-host the talk (thanks Nancy!) and just let things happen. We wanted a discussion and not a presentation and people jumped right in. We started thinking about "community" in terms of tags and wrote the tags on a blackboard (yes - a real blackboard!), which quickly resembled a networked tag-cloud of community perception. He's a panorama I took of the board.
Original photo here.
I was so excited to see so many people get involved and make really insightful points. For example, Chris Heuer had some great things to say about the situational nature of community and how it's hard to compare one to another. At the end, Nancy had the great idea of going around the room and having each person say one word that they associate with community. The most popular choice? "Messy". How true.