Getting folks in a room: Unconferences, Meetups and Barcamps

Face-to-face events can be a very effective way to encourage others to use your data. Reasons that you may consider putting on an event include:

  • Finding out more about prospective reusers
  • Finding out more about demand for different datasets
  • Finding out more about how people want to reuse your data
  • Enabling prospective reusers to find out more about what data you have
  • Enabling prospective users to meet each other (e.g. so they can collaborate)
  • Exposing your data to a wider audience (e.g. from blog posts or media coverage that the event may help to generate)

There are also lots of different ways of running events, and different types of events, depending on what aim you want to achieve. As well as more traditional conference models, which will include things like preprepared formal talks, presentations and demonstrations, there are also various kinds of participant driven events, where those who turn up may:

  • Guide or define the agenda for the event
  • Introduce themselves, talk about what they’re interested in and what they’re working on, on an ad hoc basis
  • Give impromptu micro-short presentations on something they are working on
  • Lead sessions on something they are interested in

There is plenty of documentation online about how to run these kinds of events, which you can find by searching for things like: ‘unconference’, ‘barcamp’, ‘meetup’, ‘speedgeek’, ‘lightning talk’, and so on. You may also find it worthwhile to contact people who have run these kinds of events in other countries, who will most likely be keen to help you out and to advise you on your event. It may be valuable to partner with another organisation (e.g. a civic society organisation, a news organisation or an educational institution) to broaden your base participants and to increase your exposure. Following are several relevant examples.