I was at an event last night and ran into Chris Breikss and Cydney Brown from 6s Marketing. 6s Marketing handles all of our SEO. We got to talking about a whole bunch of things around Web 2.0 and how it’s changing the rules and people’s expectations with how they want to share information using a common platform. With this new era on the net, the online users or community decides what they want to read, write, share, approve, disapprove, etc. in a no-cost, mostly uncensored environment. The net acts as the platform. This experience is very strong and innate – giving everyone the fundamental opportunity to express themselves freely. Before the net, you had to be a someone to be heard or followed. Now you can be anyone with legions of others who are interested in what you have to offer. I expect that more people interacting online like this will lead to similar expectations in face-to-face settings as well. Well-structured, traditional face-to-face mediums like trade shows, conferences, and networking events will need to adapt sooner rather than later. People will no longer want to just pay to show up, hear the speakers and see the booths, and go home. Rather, attendees will also want the opportunity to participate and share their knowledge and speak openly about their topics of interest, while interacting with people who can do the same. And without having to pay through the nose.
A grassroots movement along these lines is the un-conference called BarCamp. Not surprisingly, it has been gaining momentum all over the world. It’s defined as “an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. An intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants.” The idea is that all attendees MUST also speak and/or demo on a relevant topic that the entire group can benefit from. If the attendee is not able, they must then act as a volunteer or contribute in some way. There are no passive attendees and anyone can participate. Anyone. And the cost? Not mandatory, usually a suggested fee of 20 bucks. Costs are covered by sponsors. You can check out upcoming BarCamp events here.