future of conference – 2

My earlier post on the future of conferences being of a barcamp, open, participation nature has been picked up by Conference Bay – with a useful list of how to unconference elements of mainstream conferences.

The feature doesn’t deal with the subject of conference fees though – moving away from high corporate fees to low cost, or fee by participation is one of the key elements to ‘un-conference’.

Our be2camp unconference in London on the 10th October will break ground as being one of the first, if not the first unconference event for the built environment – that is designers, builders, clients, and facilities managers. The agenda is shaping up now with great speakers on board – what would you like to see or contribute?

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the future of conferences?

The organisers of the be2camp event met on-line late Monday evening (well it was breakfast in Sydney, tea time in Illinois, and late here in the UK!) to continue with the development of this project and event.  The agenda and arrangements are now shaping up very nicely. (It was noted that this event development and the communication between the organisers has not yet needed one email between us)

For an excellent  insight as to this type of event, read Pam Broviak’s report of her attendance at a Chicago event. Pam, a Public Works Director in Illinois comments:

I retained more from this conference than I normally would at a more traditional event and met more people

So is the unconference, low cost, free (as in free speech) barcamp event going to replace the high fee corporate control-organised events? .  Time will tell.   But surely, as budgets bite and delegates and organisations question the value from attending high fee conference events, the knowledge gained (and retained) and the networking value, bar camp and other non-conference events will undoubtedly become more common and popular.

Be2Camp – a barcamp type non-confernce event, exploring the use of Web 2.0 approaches in the built environment will be held in London, at the Building Center, Store Street, on October 10th.

Register for free here.

The backstory to be2camp:

The concept for be2camp started as a Twitter conversation between Martin Brown (built environment advisor) and Paul Wilkinson, (Comms Director BIW) following Martin’s attendance at barcamp type events, suggesting we do ‘something’ for the (UK) built environment. This discussion was picked by Jodie Miners in Australia, (Construction Collaborative IT specialist)  again through Twitter, and through conversations within Second Life with Pam Broviak (Director Public Works) from Illinois, USA. The timing of the event has been fixed to coincide with Jodie’s visit to the UK. We do hope Pam will be able to attend, if not she will be coordinating the be2camp Second Life activities. So now you know who to contact, praise or blame!

where is the service user innovation …

I attended the SCRI event on Service User Innovation in Salford Uni’s new Lady Hale Building yesterday, listened to four influential speakers and participated in thoughtful discussions and break outs.

POE (post occupancy evaluations) were mentioned too often – I have an issue with POE  as a means to evaluate performance, and as they have been referred to before are the wrong tool for the wrong job.  Yes there needs to be post project evaluation, for as Ian Cooper notes, every building project without a feedback loop is a prototype. But to measure people performance through their relationship with the building is the wrong starting point. After all its about the service users ‘experience’

The four key speakers were Prof Peter Barratt at BuHu Salford University – key message here for me was his comment that all the successful projects were led by Facilities Management, his case studies included the Sydney Opera House and Wm McCormack Place in Cairns as part of the Australian Facilities Management Action Agenda, the Trondhiem Hospital where the construction team were selected by psychologists to ensure they understood health issues, and John Zeisel‘s work in Boston USA with Alzheimer’s centers

Neil Sachdev, Sainsburys Commerical Director, illustrated how they engage with their customers on store design,

John Lorimer from Manchester City Council on testing furniture with pupils against a background of how the school environment shapes and influences education , and

Nigel Oseland on POE’s who also . Nigel also introduced the Dunbar’s number concept of 150 and talked on biophilia kinship, of our history of camp fires and story telling, of seeking nature and space and waymarking, but now confined into office cubicles.  (We need to get out more, tell stories have camp fire meetings and connect with nature – not surprising then the increase in barcamps and benchmarkwalks)

The investment in really engaging with and empowering end users is impressive. Five years in the case of John Zeisel in understanding Alzheimer’s needs in the USA , a huge investment from Sainsbury’ s and the patient work in understanding pupil and teacher needs from Manchester City Council.  None of these three examples start with the building, but with the users.  Why then as an industry do we fool ourselves we can do the engagement stuff with one or two value management exercises and a POE?

I was not alone in noting an under theme of web 2.0 in the presentations and discussions.  There was the mention of pupils using second life to determine space and colour requirements, of the use of Web2 (twitter maybe, blogs, or facebook groups) in getting real, unsolicited, feedback from facilities users. I sensed though it was something to put on the wish list and get on with the business in hand.

It is a pity this was an under theme as to me as is where the real service user innovation lies. Service users make use of web2 technology outside of the work place, ie in second life, in twittering, in facebook, in myspace … etc etc etc.  The innovation is in using this in design and facilities management.  We seem to be blind to or just awakening to its potential. The potential to allow continuous dialogue between service users and service providers / designers   This is not rocket science – those using twitter can contact the government on issues (and get a response) and be kept in touch with the Prime Ministers actions, speeches and even thoughts.

And then where – consumers constantly in dialogue with a supermarket on store layouts, on colour, on products and costs – office users ditto with the fm’s on suggestions and wc complaints –  pupils on school design, residents on city facilities and urban design – on eco town developments,  and all in real time as it happens.

Definitely a topic to be discussed at the be2camp event in October

3DCamp

Suddenly find myself with the possibility of speaking about our second life activities on the Public Works Island and International Eco Code Park at the 3DCamp in Limerick on the 24th May.

By a coincidence I will be travelling through Limerick that day. The event will be live within second life, through twitter with questions to speakers via tweets. A right old mash up !!

so what is it?

3Dcamp is a themed Barcamp which will focus on virtual worlds (Second Life, the Metaverse), mirror worlds (Google Earth and Virtual Earth), mapping mashups, GPS, Location based Services (LBSs), haptics (eg. Wiimote hacks), 3D modelling (Blender, Sketchup) and all things 3D. Essentially the internet beyond the 2D browser.

Everybody is welcome, from users to entrepreneurs, developers, interaction designers, sociologists, artists and business people. More details to follow…

When: Saturday 24th May 2008
Where: Engineering Research Building, University of Limerick
Start & Finish: 10am start, 5pm’ish finish