Let the ideas flow…

11 January, 2019

Colleagues ask me what an unconference is. I say it’s playing it by ear. You come along without an agenda and see what sparks everyone’s interest on the day. I’m really excited that we’re trialling an unconference at IDCC, particularly on the last day. People are always so buzzing with ideas and inspired by Cliff Lynch’s insightful synopsis, that it’s often hard to get them out the door! This year you can bring all that enthusiasm back and focus on the key ideas to emerge.

There are lots of different types of interactive sessions that can take place:

  • Group discussions
  • Learn about / how to
  • Fishbowl dialogues
  • Show and tell
  • Knowledge café

Whether you have a task you want to work on with others, a fresh idea or solution you want to demo, or topics you want to discuss to learn from others’ experience, the unconference provides a space for you to achieve all of this. Just pitch an idea, gather like-minded souls and get cracking.

Three of us have thrown our hat in the ring to act as compares for the day: me, Peter Neish of Melbourne Uni and Adam Bell of AARNet. We don’t have a grand plan and certainly don’t have all the ideas and answers. We’re just there to help steer things along. All of you fresh recruits are what will make this happen.

As it stands there is very little structure for the day. We’ll begin standing in the plenary room - don’t get comfortable and start checking email... You need to listen up, divide into groups and start interacting! We’ll invite some pitches from people who volunteer ideas and then all vote with our feet. We’ve scheduled three parallel slots but can have more or less as the mood takes us. There are no rules.

The day will be very free-form. Tea/coffee and light bites will be available all day long. There are nominal slots for breaks and lunch but you can pause when suits. We’ll periodically pitch new ideas in the plenary room but these will also be recorded online so you can join any group at any point.

Ideas for the unconference can be put forward at any time. You can respond to this blog with a comment, add details on the inspiration boards that will be available during IDCC, or pitch ideas in the etherpad

I’m interested in comparing findings from all the new FAIR reports. There have been several studies in recent years that either investigate practice in different disciplines, make recommendations on what needs to change, or release statement of commitment to change the status quo.

  • How similar are the findings and recommendations across these studies?
  • Are there significant differences in practice/needs across disciplines & countries?
  • What can we learn from the advancements that different groups have made?
  • What are the biggest challenges that need international collaboration?

The Australasian digital preservation community are keen to explore how communities of practice can support the sharing of digital preservation knowledge and skills. Lessons could perhaps be learned from the excellent Data Curation Network in the USA or the Community of Practice which is emerging from a set of European projects and the Research Data Alliance skills group.

Undoubtedly you will also have pet projects that you want to collaborate on, cool tools to show, or things you want to teach others. Get your thinking caps on and bring what you need to the unconference. We look forward to seeing you there!

Image CC-BY: Unconference by JD Lasica