OpenSpaceDevon – managing expectations

A previous post of mine suggested that we should pull together an Open Source unconference for public sector folk in Devon. There is now a Ning community for people to come together and share ideas for content and sessions etc.

However i am aware that sometimes someone has to take the lead in coordinating and organising, so i’m going to share my thoughts as to the date, format of the day and the kind of outcomes/outputs i’d like to see.


I have thought quite  a bit about whether or not to propose a weekday or a weekend (Saturday). So in the absence of any real rationale i’d like to suggest Friday 23rd April 2010. Should anyone have any major objections to this date then please log them via the comment section on this post.


FREE, well that is the intention, i am hoping to secure enough support from people/organisations to ensure that this event is Free. It may however be limited to a specific number of people so stay connected for further updates.  Sponsorship etc will be considered.


No venue proposed as of yet, but i am going to seek the help of others in identifying and organising this part. Kind offers of support have already come from Public Sector Forums.


I’m not trying to specify the exact outcomes but i would like to try to at least focus the event slightly. In a way i have already done this by proposing that this is about improving public sector services in Devon and not wider. So for example i think we should consider how public services can be improved using and embracing information and technology in its widest sense.

However i’m keen for event not to be taken over by uber geeks and technical folk (perhaps like myself). We have to strike a balance to encourage and tempt business folk and policy people to engage and participate in the event also. We also need to ensure that we get a cross sector representation. So it will be important to acknowledge that we need to involve the following sectors in improving and delivering public services in Devon.

  • Local Government (Parish, Town, District, County)
  • Public Sector (Health, Police, Fire, etc)
  • Voluntary Sector
  • Business Community

In some way i would like think that after the event, people who came along saw the event and get together as catalyst for developing ideas, submitting bids for funding, opportunities for service improvement, greater collaboration and conversation between the sectors.


I’d like to get a balance between the open space barcamp style and a unconference which provides stimulus via short proposals or presentations etc.  This kind of thing has happened in barcamps but i’d like to restrict the presentational aspect to at least 50% of the session time to ensure that discussion, networking and ideas are supported.

It will also be important to ensure that each session has a cross-section of people engaged. (I know this is a wish list)

I know that all of the above is a tall ask, but if we (together) achieve half of the above i believe it will be a success. In fact if we actually get the event off the ground i think it will be a success. I look forward to working with you all on making this happen.

So i am now going to have a break over the Xmas and new year period but will start progressing the above during January and up to the 23rd April.

If you wish to get involved as before, either comment on this post, or join the Ning Community.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


4 thoughts on “OpenSpaceDevon – managing expectations

  1. Excellent idea Carl

    If you thought there was interest I would happily talk about some of the licensing/legal issues surrounding open source software use and development. I have presented something similar on the copyright law masters at Exeter Unversity. Often the difference between dynamic and static linking of code can make a difference.

    Perhaps you could also bring in some cloud computing issues – ie data access continuity and data protection

    One of the exciting developments from this year is the buzz about ‘open hardware’ to sit alongside open source software!

    1. Thanks Matthew, whilst Open source software might be included, the open space approach is related to the format of the conference and does not indicate that open source software is by default the option we should consider. It might well be an opportunity to look at how public services can reduce costs. But that is a session opportunity. Why not join the community on Ning and start a discussion

      1. Thanks Carl and sorry for the misunderstanding.

        Agreed open source can deliver quick, peer reviewed and cost effective solutions so long as it can be supported/maintained.

        I will join the community.

        All the best for the festive period.

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