April 27, 2007 - CITCON Dallas, Open Spaces, Conversations

First CITCON sign at AATCCI'm in Dallas now and most of the really hard work is done: we have space, we have sponsors, we have people coming. There are signs up, rooms, chairs, flip charts. We have drink tickets, food vouchers, and a continually replentished break station. What is left are some fiddily details like putting together almost 100 bags to handout to the attendees with sponsor materials, gifts and t-shirts. That leaves plenty of energy and attention leftover to spend on nervous anticipation...

The nerves are in part the nerves of a parent hoping that their offspring will not fail to thrive in a hostile world. This makes me feel a bit silly because I would have expected those butterflies to have been taken care of by the two previous CITCON events. The first one was my first Open Spaces event ever, so the nerves were totally expected. And even after that success it was natural to question if it was a special one-time event or if the success could be replicated. So why then the nerves?

Tiffany putting up the blank agenda

I think it is because the idea of an Open Space event sounds so preposterous. Bring a bunch of people together, put up a blank agenda, then let everyone have at it. I know it works, I've seen it work, but still, every time someone asks me about the speakers at the conference... I feel like I'm wearing a clown nose or a propeller beanie. I'm worried they're going to think we're doing here if frivolous.

But I think the reality couldn't be further from the truth.

Martin Fowler is going to be here. Elisabeth Hendrickson. Bret Pettichord was actually the very first person to register. And there will be other authors, speakers and influencers. If it would be serious to sit in an audience and watch one of these people be a talking head for an hour, why is it frivolous to spend a day actually conversing with them?

Harder to explain is that isn't just them -- those named and famous -- or even primarily them that make the conference interesting. Everyone who talks contributes something to the mix. Kevin has been talking about stone soup alot lately, and that's really what's going on. The people who propose topics provide the stone, and everyone else does their part to help.

Maybe at some point everyone will be doing these events, and I won't feel a need to justify, to explain how we're doing something really cool and useful. Until then I think this is something I'm just going to have to get over.

Posted by Jeffrey Fredrick at April 27, 2007 07:15 AM

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