InfoCamp and the Unconference Model

Infocamp Seattle 2010

InfoCamp Attendees chat in a hall between sessions.

In addition to writing for Hack Library School as a contributing editor, the other big extracurricular activity on my plate is helping plan InfoCamp SC. InfoCamp SC is University of South Carolina’s port of InfoCamp, a two day unconference started in Seattle. I got involved in the InfoCamp project because I thought it would be cool to have an unconference where I could learn about information management and design from people who practice it commercially, every day.

I’ve learned a lot while I’ve gone through the process of helping plan our InfoCamp. Through reading the original InfoCamp planning document, talking with the founders of InfoCamp, and planning it mysel,f I have come to see the unconference format as a vital tool that we should integrate into our library education. The unconference format allows for a free flow of information between academic, practitioner, and student in a unique way. At an unconference all ideas are equal and people vote on them with their feet. It’s a powerful experience that allows you to acquire and produce unique knowledge and startling fresh new ideas.

The unconference structure is extremely flexible. Sessions grow and are scheduled organically, normally on a whiteboard, bulletin board, and/or Wiki, as the conference happens. This minimalizes the planning ahead of time. Unconferences can take as much time as you would like to give them from one day to a week. Further they allow conference participants to democratize their usage of time by choosing where and on what time gets spent.

THATCAMP 2011, Fairfax, VA


Another unconference you might have heard of is THATCAMP, which is the digital humanities equivalent of InfoCamp. The two conferences show just how widely the unconference net can be cast. Both show that by choosing a broad theme and creating a multilevel platform for people to plug into and giving the freedom to truly create their own conference, individuals can come together and revolutionize their field. By taking advantage of your own schools’ connections, there is no reason why you can’t chose your own unconference and make a difference in your own library school community.

I’d like to close by plugging my own unconference. InfoCamp SC is a two day unconference happening in Columbia, SC on October 1st and 2nd. It’s cast from the mold made by the original InfoCamp, an event hosted annually in Seattle. InfoCamps embrace open source development and web paradigms of networked communications to discuss, play with, and create solutions for problems and challenges involving information.

InfoCamp SC draws people from across fields and disciplines, from experts to neophytes to participate actively in creating new forms of knowledge. InfoCamp SC will be a chance to network across disciplines. Whether librarians, web designers, UX engineers, or someone looking to activate their passion for information, InfoCamp SC is the place to come and develop the next killer app. It’s a place to find new ways to visualize and use Information. InfoCamp SC will help Information workers build a better world.

At InfoCamp SC:
-Participate whatever your skill level in developing new ideas about information
– Facilitate a session. An InfoCamp’s schedule is designed interactively. If you’re a beginner ask a question and get help designing a solution. Seasoned Professionals gain access to new ways of conceptualizing issues, and help from peers with testing products and methods.
– A chance to build a better world. InfoCamp SC offers a unique environment for people to collaborate and design new products and services in the information environment. Whether you have a prototype that needs testing or an idea that needs developing, InfoCamp provides a creative space where creative people can help each other create the next big thing.
– Network. InfoCamp SC will bring people interested in creating connections from different spheres of information work. Attendees will range from a tech savvy librarian interested in spreading technology across the digital divide, to social engineers interested in activist structures, to web developers and computer engineers interested in helping their companies reach wider audiences, to artists working for database vendors, to more.

Register for the conference. Come to Columbia SC on October 1st and 2nd. Listen, learn, teach, pitch, and participate in Infocamp’s 7 sessions. Finish with friends, knowledge, skills, and connections that didn’t exist before. Make a better world!

Categories: Conferences

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