AOL internal ‘unconference’

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Two weeks ago I headed out to Dulles and lead an unconference for AOL. There were 4 AOL folks who had been to one of my events either MashupCamp or the Internet Identity Workshop and about 120 people new to the format. Mike Cummins wrote this up with the help of George Fletcher to describe the day.

AOL Developer “Un-conference”

On June 1st, AOL held its first “Un-conference”. Kaliya Hamlin came and facilitated the day and as always did a great job. The event was sponsored by the AOL Architecture Council and the goal was to build community around technologies and strategies that are key to AOL’s success. Since this was the first un-structured conference here, there was some nervousness about how well it would work. However, there was no need for any nervousness, as there were over 100 participants and the day’s grid of sessions quickly filled to almost full. We had a lot of good discussions ranging from Ruby (intro and deployment), to Reputation, to Mobile applications. There were also discussions about Open Source strategies, RSS and monetization, and what it means to have a cultural shift from a “proprietary” company to one based on being open. A couple of interesting take aways from the session:

Feedback about the format was very positive.

  • Participants liked the concept that they determined the session topics.
  • There were over 30 sessions held over five time slots. The were so many good sessions, it was hard to determine which one(s) to attend.
  • Participants were cross functional and cross organizational. There were lots of opportunities to learn about efforts in different parts of the company.

My perspective: We need to do this more often. Most people are heads-down on their projects and caught up in the day-to-day challenges around launching a product. This is a great opportunity to get people away from their desks, promote face-to-face collaboration and sharing across organizations and projects, all done while having fun.

Last but not least, here are some pictures from the event.

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