The Benefits of NOT Organizing an Event: Q & A with Cristiano Betta

What happens to your event if you let go of the reins and let your attendees sort things out on their own? Chaos, mayhem, and public disorder might be in your mind but Christiano Betta’s experience says otherwise.
As director of Geeks of London, a non-profit that runs medium to large community events; from BarCamps (large tech unconferences) to HackCamps (48 hour developer events) to GeekTrips, he will share his experience with letting go of the reins at Event Camp Europe Sept. 9.
Cristiano recently agreed to answer a few questions about unconferences and his upcoming ECEU session.

JENISE: How did you get involved with unconferences? 

CRISTIANO: I moved to London in 2007 to finish my Computer Science Masters and as I didn’t know anyone here a friend of mine pointed me at BarCampLondon2, a big tech related unconference. I had no idea what to expect but I loved it.

This was at the time that Twitter was still brand new and I started following a lot of the attendees to see what else to go to. From here I got positively BarCamp addicted, attending over 25 of them, and eventually with a group of friends we decided to try and run our own: BarCampLondon6.

From there on out we got sucked into running events. We started with BarCampLondon 6,7, and 8 but we also ran an unconference for event organisers called Encampment, and we’ve ran 3 HackCamps which are 48 hour software developer events. In 2011 we started Geeks of London, an organisation to put all our efforts under and hopefully expand our team.
JENISE: What do you like best about them?

CRISTIANO: How random and open the events are. At a BarCamp you are allowed to talk about whatever you’re passionate about. You can walk out of a discussion on iPhone vs Android straight into a talk on how to make sushi. Because everyone is equal (speakers, attendees, sponsors, and organisers) it builds relationships you normally don’t get at any other event except for maybe team building exercises.
JENISE: How do you think these new formats will affect the event industry?

CRISTIANO: I’m not too familiar with the event industry as I’m pretty new to it, but I can give my limited view from a geek’s perspective. I’ve seen more and more tech people staying away from expensive, high profile events due to cost, lack of interesting speakers, and lack of speaker-attendee interaction. Instead they’ve moved to smaller events, more focussed events, and free/cheap events.
JENISE: What do you hope participants in your session will take away from it?

CRISTIANO: I hope to inspire people that there are benefits to treating your attendees as equals and letting them sort out what the conference should be. It’s scary as hell to let go of your reigns but possible and very rewarding.

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Posted on September 1, 2011, in European event planners, event camp europe, innovative event formats, unconference and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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