Introducing Camp Camp (Or shit just got Meta, but I’d still like to see your ROI)

19 Oct

I suspect this post will alienate a big chunk of my regular readers. I’m not going to apologise for that. So, if you’re sitting comfortably, pre-packaged outrage in hand, I shall begin…

I’d like to formally introduce you all to ‘Camp Camp’. It’s the latest in a long-line of public sector events and aimed at people who want to best use social media to set-up and attend huge numbers of events in their spare time, where roughly the same topics will be covered by largely the same people…Meta, right?

For my non-public sector followers, ‘Camp’ is the commonly applied term used to describe an Unconference-style event. People, mainly in the spheres of IT and Communications, gather together to discuss how new technology and social media can be used to best benefit a particular service area. Unconferences are largely unstructured events, sans agendas and totally driven by the topics that participants want to cover.

I’m joking about Camp Camp, of course, I have no intention of creating a Camp about the organising of Camps. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else was though.

I did help organise BlueLightCamp in April of this year and had great fun (on the whole) doing it, but it’s left me with a weird feeling ever since. You see, despite it’s lofty aims, you know what the camp I spent a massive amount of time organising actually achieved? Nothing at all! There is nothing that exists now that I can say came into being because I helped organise that camp. The level and standard of engagement by Blue Light Organisations is no better or worse than it was before we started. This makes me decidedly uncomfortable. Why? Because a lot of people gave up their time on a Sunday, a lot of Sponsors paid a lot of money and no one has anything really to show for it. Sure, we all made some new friends, but is that something that should be measured as a Return on Investment?

Return on Investment, ROI, now there’s a concept not regularly applied to Public Sector Unconferences, but it damn well should be! It should be, because I strongly suspect BlueLightCamp isn’t the only Camp that would struggle to demonstrate any form of Return on attendees Investment in terms of time and money.

The ‘Camp Scene’ is fast approaching critical mass, the bubble WILL eventually burst and, unless serious thought is given to things like Outcomes, a lot of great people will become disillusioned with the principles of Unconferences.

So…what am I asking?

To Organisers

It’s simple really, if you are organising a Camp I need to know you’re confident there is a need for that event. A real NEED, not just a spurious one that you can justify in your own mind. If you want me to attend your Camp, I don’t need an agenda, I do need to see something come about as a return on such a huge collective Investment. My time is very precious to me.

To Attendees

Don’t let my words put you off. If you are planning to attend your first Camp, I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. Broadly-speaking, I believe Unconferences are a valuable tool, I just don’t see them as an end in themselves. Always ask yourself this though: what has the event changed for me?

My top tip is: If you are are at a Camp with people like Dan Slee, Andy Mabbett, Mike Rawlins et al, spend time with them, they are truly lovely and brilliant people you can learn from. I have learnt a lot from them…but I could have done that without attending Umconferences as they are so generous with their time.


To Sponsors

If you’re approached to sponsor an event like this, it’s reasonable and right to expect stated desired Outcomes that are a bit more robust than ‘sharing good practice’ and ‘meeting new people’. You would demand a damn-sight more if you were asked to invest in anything else.

**Update 21 October 2012**

Well this has certainly provoked some interesting responses from people, as the comments below give a flavour of. In the last few days I have been told that I am right, wrong, brave, a coward, short-sighted, insightful and, my personal favourite: that I have betrayed and annoyed a lot of people.   I am not sure that there is greater compliment as a writer than provoking such varied and intense responses from readers.

The thing that has surprised me most is this is nothing new, the issues that I raise, have been raised before. Here’s a post by Simon Gray that yoiu might find interesting: Challenge and groupthink amongst the #localgovweb community…

Interesting isn’t it? That was written over a year ago now and what’s changed? Really…What has changed? I’m sure when Simon wrote that it prompted the same sort of responses that this post did. A lot of people probably wrote some rather self-congratulatory posts about Camps and Uncons and nothing changed. The problem with cliques is that they will work hard, when needed, to maintain the status quo when it is threatened. Ask yourself this, who does the status quo is actually benefit?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and…

You know the drill, if you don’t like these thoughts, stick around, I have plenty of others.


33 Responses to “Introducing Camp Camp (Or shit just got Meta, but I’d still like to see your ROI)”

  1. Carl Plant October 19, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    I would agree that more needs to be done to explore the value these camps bring. I would say though, that when you work in the public sector and have crazy ideas about ‘engaging with the public’ you experience two things, one is the horrendous system of meetings and public sector events and at times major resistance to thinking in innovative ways.

    The camps allow you to dare to think and with the unconference style is so refreshing it’s you get to meet nice people like Dan, Mike and Andy.

    The difficulty is this refreshed energy which people take back into their endless meetings etc is hard to measure as an ROI itself and it’s difficult to attribute the camp to new things being ‘made’.

    Maybe organise a social media ROI Camp?


  2. simon gray October 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Sing it, brother!

    I do broadly agree with you that the market for unconferences is rapidly becoming saturated, and although new people do turn up to each one, some of them suggesting topics for discussion, I do think we’re getting to the point where if we’re not having the same people saying the same things in the same sessions, we are still broadly saying the same things in the same sessions; it’s a particular shame that you don’t think anything was achieved from BlueLightCamp, because one of the reasons why I think we’re becoming saturated is because the topics for the camps are basically being too broad – basically being the intersections of (local) government and social media; I would have hoped that the tighter focus of BLC would have encouraged a tighter set of sessions!

    Basically, there are too many of the things – it seems like one every other month, and one every month during the peak season. OK, any individual can design to skip one or two of them, but if broadly the usual core group of people are still going to the same ones, then that doesn’t leave much scope for fresh thinking and new ideas to present and discuss.

    That said, to end on a positive note – the series of workshop sessions which I have been doing at the Hyperlocal West Midlands camps and UKGovCamp have been ongoing, and the work I’ve done at them, and what I’ve learned from others, has led to the outcome of what is to be my major piece of work in my proper job for this year, the next phase of which I hope to present at the next HyperWM!


  3. Dan Slee October 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    This is a really good and valuable discussion to have, Paul and thank you for the nice words. Coming from a decent chap as yourself that’s appreciated.

    Here’s my take.

    Remember the innovation curve for new technology? It’s a funny squiggly line that can best be respresented as:

    1) There’s this new thing. How does it work?
    2) WOW! IT’S AMAZING! IT’S going to CHANGE THE WORLD and soon my Gran will be doing it too.
    3) Oh, hang on. The world hasn’t changed. Am I wrong?
    4) Oh, I see. That’s what it does and what I’m using it for.

    Going to my first unconference in 2009 changed the way I do and think. It introduced me to a whole crowd of people doing similar things who had really valuable insights. In short it built on my network.

    I did think that if more people went it would revolutionize the way people worked. I still sort of think that but I’ve come to realise that – hard though it is to accept – some people just want to leave at 5pm and don’t want to do anything outside their job description and would rather eat sick than attend one.

    What’s the ROI of an unconference? I’ve come to realise that it’s not necessarily the things you are able to put into place first thing on Monday morning after going to one on a Saturday. Although there will be examples. It’s actually six months down the track when it’s most handy when something comes into view that you may have heard about and know who to go and speak to. Go back and ask people in 12 months time what they got out of it. Not a week later.

    What’s the ROI of an unconference for sponsors? You put sponsors in the same room as 100 people who may buy their product / improve their product and that’s worth paying for. Believe me. That’s even before the value of horizon scanning to see what issues are on the horizon.

    The unconference silo? You’re absolutely right that the danger is that there’s a whole circuit developed of the same people turning up time after time. A great thing happened at localgovcamp in Brum this year. Lots of new people showed and a lot of the old faces were indisposed. You know what? The new people really came to the fore. There was a session on blogging I attended. It was great just sitting back and hearing what others had to say.

    The spread of unconferences? Personally, I’m rather heartened by the fact that 150 museums people want to come together to talk museums. I didn’t join them this time and someone else made better use of my space. Which is exactly how it should be.

    The session repetition vortex? Same people pitching sessions is a problem. It takes a bit of chutzpah to stand up in front of 100 people and invite them to come to a room with you to talk about Foursquare strategies. So maybe postcards and pens sprinkled around the room and a session postbox could be one way of breaking that.

    Lastly, I’m helping with commscamp next February. Our first batch of tickets went in 24 hours. We added a waitlist. There’s now 80 on it. Why a waitlist? Because we’re going to make damn sure the people who *really* need to go actually go. That includes a whole bunch of people who’ve never been to one and whose organisation can no longer pay for paid events. That’s going to piss right off a load of the regular faces, we realise. But deep down they’ll understand why.


  4. tomsprints October 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    But Paul, has anyone ever presented an unconference as “as end in itself”. Never been the case with the dozen or so I’ve attended. Almost all are in some way described as places to mix ideas and widen exposure to issues. Every attempt to create something even vaguely entire in itself that I have seen at an unconference has failed. Need to avoid confusing them with things like hackdays, where the expectation is usually a bit different.

    Dan makes a cogent point: the take up for these things seems to demonstrate a need for this kind of gathering, no matter what you call it. And “it’s good to talk”. Personally, for the sake of around three events a year like this I go to, I’m also prepared to find that the occasional one “doesn’t do it for me” and the perceived ROI is low. Often I’ll be to blame for that myself – wrong attitude, wrong inputs, poor choice from topics available. One thing I will say is that the ROI I’ve had from each unconference has beaten the ROI I’ve had from every paying conference I’ve been to in the last 10 years.

    I was surprised Paul, that you didn’t touch on a very important point about unconferences (well, ok, it’s always been important to me). This is that you leave your job title at home when you attend one of these things and you come in the door on equal terms with everyone else. Sure, there are always acknowledged gurus etc, but no one is ever there “representing” their particular job, local authority, etc. That’s something that managers have struggled with in recent years, and why weekend events work well. People are at these things to speak freely and to share experiences. They are not there as delegates from this or that corporate body. The most popular name badge at unconferences has always been a Twitter ID, never name, rank and number.

    But thanks hugely for stirring the debate a bit. Really welcome. Want to pick this up as a guest slot at #lgovsm in a few weeks from now?


  5. paulcoxon81 October 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    Thanks everyone for your comments, kind words and challengers, really interesting reads one-and-all. I really appreciate the time.

    Certainly seems to have stirred some interesting discussions, which was part of the reason I posted it. To that end, Tom if you’ll have me, happy to have a guest slot on #Lgovsm

    As I said, I do like the format by comparison to standard ‘turn-up, fall asleep’ conference fare, but I’m more interested in what happens outside the camp format, little tribes forming and saying ‘you know what? We can do this’ and just doing it. I’ve seen some of that and concede may be I’ve missed a lot; may be BlueLightCamp spawned lots of little tribes doing all kinds of awesome things, but it just concerns me that it didn’t.

    In terms of status being left a the door with unconferences, I guess I just don’t really see organisational status as being a barrier to getting heard…but I am a gobby git.

    Anyway, folks, it’s Friday, this is always a good thing.


  6. paulcoxon81 October 19, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    A few people have commented on my timing this morning, coinciding with the start of City Camp Coventry. I had been writing this post for a while, struggling to articulate, but it finally fell into place this morning…could I have waited? Yes, but it didn’t even cross my mind that I should. Still doesn’t.


  7. lesteph October 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Bluelightcamp was a lot more useful than the traditional BAPCO event it piggy-backed on, for me at least.

    ROI-wise, it’s led to two direct piece of work (£2,300 & £600), links with at least 3 new individuals/organisations, and some potentially bigger stuff on the horizon. It’s also seen me work with @likeaword more, which has been ace. Frankly, I was surprised just how direct the ROI was.

    That said, I was musing with Dave B the other day whether we should just cancel UKGovcamp 2013. He reckoned not 😉


  8. Paul Taylor October 19, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Brave, thought provoking post. It did make me laugh as I have thought on occasion “how many Camps do these people have???!.” I work in a sector that is pretty much 2-3 years behind the kind of events your describe- so I’m not best placed to comment. What I would say is that the ROI of ANY event , meeting , conference – has to be questioned. If we don’t do it , others will. I really like your posts – they say what others wouldn’t and always challenge. But I’m kind of jealous that you are in a position to question the validity of gatherings that are still beyond the reach of many sectors.


    • Dan Slee October 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      Oh, and Bluelightcamp? It stopped us from ever going down the path of sentiment analysis after the session from the Guardian data analyst who described how their software was ‘at best 60 per cent effective.’

      That’s rather priceless. So, thank you.

      Steph, I’m rather glad there’s a UKGovcamp in the offing. Thank you.


  9. Mike Rawlins October 20, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Interesting thoughts Paul, although I’m not sure I should be listed alongside the giants of Slee & Mabbett.

    There are a lot of points in your post, so I’ll just pick out a few and ramble on about them.

    Conferences or unconferences aren’t really all that different when you break them down.

    Conference you get details of Keynote speakers and who wants to tell you about what
    Unconference you get an Eventbrite list of attendees which tells you who the ‘keynote’ attendees are. As for who talks about what, there is usually some indication of sessions on the unconference blog or in the twitter chatter. (notice in a conference they ‘tell’ you and in an unconference they ‘talk’ to you)

    Conference you get a name badge and a sponsors lanyard
    Unconference ‘there’s a pen and some labels over there….’

    So they are pretty close to the same thing.

    Where they are different

    The rule of two feet, it isn’t the done thing to get up and walk out of a conference session where as at an unconference, if someone hasn’t walked out of a session then the speaker is doing it rong.

    Attendees at a conference you usually have to request time off from work to go to a ‘work related’ event. At an unconference, because they are usually held outside of working time anyone can go, so it isn’t unusual to see people who would not normally get a look in at going to a conference attending unconferences, this has the added positive effect, that they want to be there and will add more value and gain more from it.

    The big difference is the name, putting ‘un’ in front of ‘conference’ immediately changes peoples perception of what to expect, it’s not just the fluid, random and often chaotic way the event runs, but also the informality of it. You go to an unconference knowing that it is quite likely as say, a customer contact officer for Little Midhampton DC you could end up having coffee and cake with someone who deals with communications for BIS or Number10, the kind of people that your Chief Exec wouldn’t normally get near.

    If you told me 3 years ago to go to a conference full of Local Government Officers I’d have laughed so hard I’d have vomited in my jacket pocket, but going to an unconference called Local Gov Camp was one of the best events I have been to.

    Now the difficult bit on ROI..

    A friend of mine works in telecoms engineering, he gets told he is going to a conference as part of his companies commitment to CPD, whether he likes it or not he is going. When he gets back he has to fill in a conference report form and detail names and contact details for 2 key contacts he has made.

    When it comes to the unconference, I make maybe 10 or 12 new contacts, these people are often in very diverse sectors and maybe of no real tangible benefit to me and the business, but you never know..

    Can you measure the ROI for an unconference, can you bollocks, but then if two key contacts is your measure of ROI for a conference then you’re doing it rong.

    Are unconferences past their sell by date? Maybe, are they becoming a bit like old boys clubs possibly. That is where everyone who has been to an unconference in the past and had even the slightest bit of benefit from it needs to start telling people that when it comes down to conferences, networking and communications, it is a two way thing, death by powerpoint never built a successful organisation.


  10. paulcoxon81 October 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Steph and Dan, I’m genuinely pleased that you got something useful out of BlueLightCamp, but there are still a lot of people, judging from my Twitter timeline, who are asking similar questions to me about the number and overrall usefulness of camps.

    A lot of people keep telling me this is a brave post. Really? I confess not really knowing what that means, but it does seem to have fostered a little bit of a ‘let’s put our fingers in our ears and pretend he didn’t write that’ approach from some (though none of the commenters above).

    In terms of the balance of my post, I figured the last thing the world needed was another post talking about the benefits of camps…rumour has it the next few days will see a large number of them.

    Once again thanks to all those who have commented. X


  11. simon gray October 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    so, having identified a problem, shall some of us who’ll be at hyperlocal west midlands in a couple of weeks time try to discuss a solution?


  12. UleyGirl October 22, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    Indeed, a nice warm feeling isn’t reason enough for me to drive my kids on a 6 hour round trip to the grandparents so I can talk work with some nice folk at a weekend. I have had major fomo (fear of missing out) about these events recently. But now I feel a bit better. Would still like to dump the kids and run to one though :). I think it would just be easier all round if @danslee just did a book tour….


  13. Pete McClymont October 24, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    I do remember a GovCamp a few years back where there was a promise/aspiration(?) to take the ‘conclusions’ back to higher ups in the Cabinet Office. I’ve no idea what happened.

    There was also a lot of discussion about dragging senior people along to GovCamp/LocalGovCamp. But, the conclusion was that it wasn’t such a good idea – better use of time etc.

    I still think there is merit in *Camps, even if it’s just for networking, sharing ideas and hanging out with good people on a Saturday. I’d argue that I’ve got better ROI from *free* *Camps than any paid for conference I’ve been to in terms of making me think and trying to do things a little bit better. That *Camps still attracts sponsors tells me something.

    But, I’d accept that the ‘movement’ might run out of steam if no one sees any ‘outcomes’.

    How about Campers set some high level objectives, set a couple of anchor sessions beforehand and appoint a rapporteur to some up. Yes, there’s lots of good blog posts after events, but for those without the time a short wrapup might be better – and it might form the basis of something to place in front of the higher ups.


    • Pete McClymont October 24, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      “…sum up…” – sorry, pre-coffee comment.

      (But I did spell “rapporteur” correctly.)


  14. likeaword October 28, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    This is great stuff.

    Reflecting on why we do things, what outcomes we are trying to deliver and what else we could be doing is really important.

    I’ve been hooked on govcamps since the Yorkshire and the Humber camp in 2009. They work for me as learning events. I find traditional conferences frustrating in comparison. And they seem to me to be symptomatic of an entirely healthy levelling of power structures within public bodies.

    And they are networking events. An opportunity to meet people, understand them, build rapport, share the load.

    But people form cultures, there’s a risk we will begin to exclude others, set rules about the right and wrong way to be, create our own hierarchies.

    And they rely on volunteer labour. Which is a strength, passionate people working for what they believe in. And a weakness, placing expectations on people, reducing equity, reducing the sustainability of projects.

    Govcamps are not everything. They are not the only way to meet, to learn, to share or to network. But they are A way. They are low cost, they are level, they are powerful.

    If we seriously want to change things we need to reflect and to challenge ourselves. But also treat ourselves with respect, recognise what we have achieved, and chill a bit.


  15. CC November 9, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    I’ve always had a concern about the current crop of camps (not about unconferences per se or the style).

    It’s always seemed to me that there is almost an expectation that there isn’t an outcome or anything valuable. if there was, people would be willing to do it in work time (or to be able to make the case to do it in work time). The fact it needs to be at weekends rather proves you can’t make a case for doing it in the week, instead of other work, doesn’t it?


    • paulcoxon81 November 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, I’m inclined to agree that it does suggest (if not prove) that there is not a case for running them in the week…However there are some exceptions, one of which I attended, that take place in the week, but they tend to be smaller…and in the case of the one I attended, more useful to me personally.


  16. Lorna Prescott November 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Hi Paul
    I’m a bit late to join this conversation, just found this post via Dan Slee’s blog. Coming from the community development field I have concerns about the prolific use of and trends in ‘tools’ (or methods) of engagement/participation/involvement (choose your favoured term). Camps use Open Space Technology, which is just one tool in the toolbox of a good practitioner, and in my opinion should be underpinned by principles and values which facilitate selection of appropriate tools and appropriate use of them. In community development we share values and practice principles (’s-values). Open Space events/camps can provide great opportunities for working and learning together, and I like that they don’t invest expertise in a (paid) speaker who pours knowledge and their view of the world into delegates head, rather they value everyone’s experience and knowledge. However the use of such methods requires sophisticated facilitation skills, in the planning and the delivery. Good facilitators will be clear about desired outcomes and check whether they are being achieved during an activity. People who just ‘organise’ events might look on the surface to be doing the same thing, but are likely to leave participants wondering what they got from it all.


    • paulcoxon81 November 16, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

      No such thing as late to any of the conversations on here Lorna, thanks for your comment.


  17. markbraggins November 18, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Hi Paul. I’ve been meaning to comment for weeks, and have finally had some free time this weekend.

    Provocative stuff, but then your posts usually are and I always enjoy them. This is no exception.

    I definitely recognise some of what you’re saying. I don’t agree with all of your conclusions, but you’ve stimulated a really interesting debate, which is a good thing.

    I won’t try and comment on everything, so here are a just a few points:

    At my first unconference I knew absolutely nobody, and was convinced there was some sort of funny handshake involved. I learned loads though, and made contact with people who have helped me since then. A couple of times I’ve even been able to help others as well, which brings its own sense of satisfaction.

    I have now been to quite a few of the camps; some faces have become familiar and quite a few have become friends. I feel I’ve joined some sort of friendly unofficial mutual support network

    Familiar faces tend to stand out in a crowd, so are more memorable. I make new contacts at every event and definitely don’t find it ‘same-old, same-old’, even though I do enjoy talking with people I already know

    I’m not an emergency responder personally, but my council works closely with Police, Fire and a wide variety of other partners – I find it extremely valuable to see things through a different lens.

    I do take your point about return on investment, and agree it’s tricky to measure. I guess there wouldn’t be sponsors if they didn’t feel it was worth the investment and people wouldn’t keep on turning up if the experience wasn’t personally rewarding. The fact that the events are usually at weekends means that attendees are giving up their own time – from a sponsor’s perspective they are getting to spend time with people who are already interested.

    The ‘rule of two feet’ applies at event-level as well: I was interested in library camp and museum camp in October, but recognise I can’t afford either the time or the money to attend every camp every time.

    I wonder if – as a BLC2012 organiser – you might have got less out of it personally than others who weren’t hampered with all the responsibility? As an attendee in 2012 I was relaxed and able to focus on what interested me. With the prospect of helping to organise BlueLightCamp 2013 I’m seeing it slightly differently! I think the measure of success for me next time will probably be other people’s feedback rather than my own take-aways.

    Cheers, Mark


  18. Janet E Davis November 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    We did talk about a #campcamp a couple of years ago: !
    I think that unconferences are a good thing but that it is difficult to relate directly the return on the investment in attendees’ time and sponsors’ money to a specific unconference. There is a lot of exchanging of ideas going on at unconferences. The fact that you get people from different organisations, professions, places in the hierarchy etc together and talking to each other leads to better understanding, spreading of ideas and sparking off new ideas.
    We are still at the adoption of social media tools stage, still working out how things can be used, and everything changes daily. They have certainly helped people to gain confidence to try new things and to get examples that help them argue their case for using technology. That makes unconferences worth the effort.


    • Nick Keane April 21, 2013 at 10:21 am #

      First of thank you to Paul for his original posting, it was valid and thought provoking blog and with the approach of this years BlueLightCamp it feels good and right to say something.

      Paul Mason, the Economics Editor of Newsnight talks about his job, as a journalist is when he turns up at a job, to ask “What are the questions that aren’t being asked and people don’t want asking?” I suspect that yours was one of those.

      I think that some of the issues in this thread need to be taken into consideration when running an unconference especially around groupthink – can collaboration work if it is cliquey?

      I would like to add something about the why of unconferencing from my own perspective which, hopefully, will throw some light onto why I think some people go and what they gain.

      If I may start with a story, recently a friend of mine was taken to one side by her boss and asked “If you stopped the work you do for us tomorrow, what difference would it make?” The question was asked in the most friendly tone but the underpinning philosophy – prove your worth in the age of austerity – seems to me to be one of the defining themes of our current age.

      In addition I think that people are having to rethink what working means in an age of high unemployment, the growth in demographics of people of pensionable age, the age of pervasive work related media (working on Blackberrys over the weekend anyone?) and much more.

      I believe, in addition to this, we are experiencing a (rapid) growth in reports of job dissatisfaction and workplace alienation (any one got empirical data to prove or disprove that statement please let me know). I’d point people to Brown,Lauder and Ashton’s The Global Auction to read a greater discussion around this. In many cases, it is about people with high skills in (relatively) low paid work who feel nowhere near the job satisfaction commensurate to their professionalism.

      I’d like to suggest that unconferences – and other alternative ‘working’ events are, in part, a response to that, that people may be seeking out these events for a whole number of reasons – amongst them, to use/refresh the skills they may not be using at their place of work, to share their skills/knowledge and in part get some recognition that they feel they do not get in the workplace, to meet people struggling with the same issues and (occasionally) just to have some fun.

      The caveats are well described, groupthink being a particular issue, but I shall be going to BlueLightCamp ready for the sharing and collaboration that it so rightly aims to foster.




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  8. Why on earth sponsor an Unconference? | BlueLightCamp - March 31, 2013

    […] a cracking blog post, Paul Coxon questioned whether there is any return on investment for sponsors. I agree, […]


  9. BlueLight Camp: Post of posts | Protohub - April 14, 2013

    […] Coxon – who helped organise BlueLight Camp in 2012 – wrote a thought-provoking piece: Introducing Camp Camp (Or shit just got Meta, but I’d still like to see your ROI) in which he challenges unconferences to show a return on investment. It’s provocative stuff, […]


  10. Camp Culture: The Rise of The Unconference | Simon Penny - January 18, 2016

    […] debate their purpose and their return on investment (ROI). Paul Coxon’s recent thought provoking blog post includes some really interesting observations and questions surrounding the unconference format. […]


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