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Is "Un" the New "2.0"?

I've been seeing a lot of "un" things lately (and so has David Patt, who writes about it here). Unconferences are becoming more common, unsessions are in, and now KDPaine & Partners are proposing an "unstandard" for measuring success in the social media sphere.

So what does the "un" mean? It could just be excitement about something new--we're not just any old conference, we're an unconference! But I think there's something else there, too.

A lot of these "uns" involve taking something that used to be static or set by a single primary authority and making it participatory, crowdsourced, user-generated. (To use more buzzwords.) The unconference agenda is set by attendees; the unstandard recognizes that different organizations have different needs and may not wish to judge themselves by criteria that aren't important to them.

I'm wondering: Shouldn't we strive for that in regular programs, too? Can we look at the un-versions of things and be inspired by them to change the non-un-version? Maybe your 7,000 attendee meeting can't be as unstructured as an unconference. But there have to be ways you can tap into attendee input and be more nimble. (And while I still love Matt Baehr's idea of offering an unsession room at larger conferences, I think it's important to not let that be the end of the search for ways to get participants more involved. You don't want to wall that involvement off so that it's only taking place in that one room.)

What un-ideas can you implement to increase member and customer engagement in your already-existing programs?



Hi Lisa,
Thanks for explaining the "un" so eloquently. I posted a couple links yesterday that talk about unconferences. I'll share them here, too.

Ben Martin explains how he made an unconference work in 10 steps. http://tinyurl.com/4myxls

Rohit Bhargava explains what people expect from an unconference. http://tinyurl.com/3klnnz

Hi Lisa
Un summarizes the brand positioning for a client association, promising exactly the opposite experience as its primary competitor.

For example, we're launching an un-50th anniversary. The celebration will be future-oriented, a prospective, not the usual dreary retrospective of the achievements of old white men.

Ann O.

Lindy: Thanks so much for the links! I'm personally looking forward to the chance to participate in an unconference some day. So far, I'm just someone who's read a lot about them, so articles like Ben's and Rohit's (and yours) allow me to live vicariously ...

Ann: That's definitely another way people are using the "un" prefix--to promise something completely different. I'd be really curious to learn more about what you're planning for the un-anniversary!

Hi Lisa: Thanks for the great post on this. I've really enjoyed the un-conferences that I've taken part in, but I came away wondering why it had to be a completely different animal rather than an evolution of the meeting experience. Maybe because we embrace the idea of revoluntion creating change?

Lisa -

I agree, my take isn't the end of the search. Just a piece of the puzzle.


Matt--every puzzle piece helps! Thanks again for that post; I hope it inspires your readers to give unsession rooms a shot at their next conference.

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