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

OpenSpaceDevon – the unconference

UPDATED: Thanks to everyone so far who has expressed an interest – I’ve set up a Ning network so that we can continue the discussions online – visit OpenSpaceDevon and sign up to participate.

Following on from my previous post, i’m intrigued to see what interest there would be in “OpenSpaceDevon – the unconference”. I thought the name better reflected the county of Devon as well as the format of the event.

Following the “curated unconference” format, it is difficult to suggest a formal agenda, but i was thinking that the event could discuss these kinds of topics and issues:

  • Redefining public services
  • Using web 2.0 to safeguard children (continuing the discussion started on Futuregov)
  • Using social software to reinvent the customer/citizen relationship
  • Digital Inclusion in a rural county
  • The role of the citizen in council 2.0
  • Social Care and Health in a networked society
  • Digital Privacy and Information Security
  • Schools and the Next Gen Citizen

It would be great to get public sector professionals, voluntary organisations and business people involved in these areas all together and working through some of these issues and topics – Basically, i’d imagine the event to involve anyone who has an interest and passion to improve public services in general.

I can’t promise that this event will take place, but if there is enough interest in it, i will invest some of my own time to help make this happen. If such an event could happen, then i would recommend that we look to around March/April 2010 and depending on who gets involved in may take place at a weekend – unless of course some local public sector organisations want to get involved and help? (hint hint)

Contact me via this blog post or email me to register your interest in either helping put this event together or participating.