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Open space events

BarCamp Vancouver, 2009. Participants decide on the programme and run open, participatory workshops. In the photo above, a participant pitches her idea for a session. Image courtesy of

Open space events (or ‘unconferences’) are participant driven – participants decide on the programme and self organise into groups. Anyone who wants to initiate a discussion or activity pitches their idea to the whole group – those who are interested join. The programme is fluid and changeable; nothing is set in stone as participants can move from one group to another or start up a new group. One of the golden rules is that ‘there are no spectators, only participants’. There are four principles for open space events: whoever comes are the right people; whatever happens is the only thing that could have; whenever it starts is the right time; when it’s over it’s over. One excellent example is BarCamp, a network of participant driven events. Initially, BarCamps focused on technology related issues but now cover topics as diverse as marketing and healthcare.