Using Open Source to Remix Your Event

As founder and CEO of Beyounic, Nick Balestra understands the value that the  sharing of information can bring to the events industry. He started creating a social network for the University of Lugano in 2004 around student parties and ended up  building Beyounic as a start-up company.

Beyounic created Ohanah, an app that allows people to  to easily create, publish, promote & follow events.

A big fan of freedom and collaboration over competition, Nick  is an open source software advocate and will be sharing ideas for using the “open source” concept at Event Camp Europe Sept. 9.

I recently asked Nick a few questions about his session entitled, “Remix your event – From Freedom to Open Source.”

JENISE:  What is open source for events?

NICK:  Open-source is a smarter way to build software and collaborate on projects. Creating events can be somehow similar, so taking an open-source approach while thinking about your events can lead to  smarter ways to create them.  In open-source software, by releasing your code free to be read, modified and redistributed new opportunity emerge. Eventcamp is a perfect example of this, where all the participants, shares and contribute back to the creation of the event itself with the final goal to bring home new tools and approaches to build your next event upon.

JENISE:  How can it help event professionals?

NICK: If event professionals start thinking about their events as open-source projects they will realize better all the stakeholders involved and how build an event around their contribution.

Furthermore sharing results, techniques and tools among event professionals in an open way may result in better events. Collaboration is the key over competition in this.


JENISE: Can you elaborate a little more on specific ways that events, such as Event Camp can use the idea of open sourcing?  How is it different from the way that events are usually created?

NICK: First let’s consider a beehive in the wild.

The hive is started by a queen bee. The hive grows over time in terms of the number of bees, the size of the hive, and the amount of honeycomb in the hive. Each bee performs a function within the hive and collectively they all benefit, but (at least theoretically) any bee is free to fly away to another hive, as is the queen.

Open source projects can be described in a similar way:

  • The core developers are often the founders of the project. Typically they do much of the development and design and also set the project roadmap. They act like like queen bees.
  • The community participates in many roles and tasks involved in designing, implementing, and testing the software. The community benefits from the project and the project benefits from the community. The community members are like bees.
  • There is no ‘Go To Market’ process in an open source project. This is why the barriers to the adoption of open source listed above exist. Open source projects create software, they do not create ‘whole product’.
  • There is no specific marketing role in this model so open source projects gain mind-share and attract community members through technical articles, blogs, and word-of-mouth.

A few people have a negative reaction to the open source concept because they think it is in some way socialist or communist. This is not the case. Open source is effective because the motivations of all participants are naturally aligned (rather than artificially aligned with financial reward as a ‘pseudo-motivation’).

Event projects like Event Camp are very similar, and for this reason they don’t produce a final event product or tools to go to market. What is therefore needed is the creation of an ecosystem around this.

Coming back to the beehive in the wild we see that business can grow around them.

So projects like Event Camp and other event projects more in general (like barcamp concept more abstractly) need a way to create an ecosystem that can take advantage of it in term of tools created to support them and professional figures that can take from the project, elaborate some of its parts, packaging it, and market it.

For example,  the hybrid wine tasting experiment that will be carried out at Event Camp Europe 2011,  has been made possible by the contribution of it’s community. Event professionals, or even wine producers can then refine the idea into a final product, or even complete platform or tool to market it and offer it to their customers.

For example wine-bars across the world organizing hybrid wine tasting experiences where customers can taste wine and interact directly with the wine producer on the other side of the world, resulting in more sales, brand awareness and promotion of the wine in places that can be harder to penetrate. But because the system can be, for example, centered on direct wine resellers (like the wine bars for example) this can give instant benefit to them. Those professionals can then choose to bring back and contribute to the community and therefore the original project, their product, innovation, and solution so that the whole ecosystem can learn and leverage from it.

JENISE:  What do you hope people will take away from your Event Camp Europe session?

NICK: Being personally and professionally involved in open-source for many years, I try to bring in my experience to give event professionals new angles and perspectives to think about when creating their events. My goal is to try to put everything learned during the day into remixable elements so that people can at least start thinking of how to implement them in their next event project. I hope people will then bring home a new mindset and approach to start remixing their event.

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Posted on September 2, 2011, in European event planners, event camp europe, event innovation, innovative event formats and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Dear Nick,
    Like the metaphor and thinking around open source and very much looking forward to your session and testing our idea of the Hybrid Wine Tasting. Thank you again to Delea Wines for their kind contributions (http://www.delea.ch) . Can’t wait to get started on Friday….Just 6 more days…

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