Technical details

Once you are registered, you should receive login information for the site. To propose a session, log in and go to Posts -> Add New. Write your session proposal as a blog post and publish it to the blog. (It’s helpful if you categorize it as “Session Proposal” using the Categories box at the top right of the Add New Post page.) In the first time slot on Friday morning, 5/17, we will all go over the proposals together and create an agenda for the day from them. We encourage all participants to propose a session.

Content details

Some session genres and examples are given below. The best tip: do not prepare a paper or presentation. Plan instead to have a conversation, to get some work done, or to have fun. An unconference, in Tom Scheinfeldt’s words, is fun, productive, and collegial, and at THATCamp, therefore, “[W]e’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively […] We’re here to get stuff done.”

Note that while there may be some smidgen of presenting going on in hands-on skills training workshops, you can also propose to teach a workshop at the last minute. As long as you know something and others don’t, it will likely be productive for all concerned, even if you haven’t prepared much. And, if it isn’t, we encourage participants to invoke the law of two feet to find a more productive session.

Session proposers are session facilitators

If you propose a session, you should be prepared to run it. If you propose a hacking session, you should have the germ of a project to work on. If you propose a workshop, you should be prepared to teach it. If you propose a discussion of something, you should be prepared to summarize what that something is, begin the discussion, keep it going, and end it. But don’t worry – with the possible exception of workshops you have offered to teach, THATCamp sessions don’t really need to be prepared for; in fact, we infinitely prefer that you don’t prepare.

At most, you should come up with one or two questions, problems, or goals, and you should be prepared to spend the session working on and working out those one or two points informally with a group of people who are not there to judge your performance. As long as you take responsibility for running the session, that’s usually all that’s needed.  This is the Open Space Technology approach to organizing meetings.

Session genres

  1. General discussion – Sometimes people just want to get together and talk informally, with no agenda, about something they’re all interested in. Propose a session on a topic that interests you, and if other people are interested, they’ll show up to talk about it with you.

2. Hacking Session – Several coders gather in a room to work on a particular project. These should usually take more than an hour or even two; if you propose such a session, you might want to ask that space be dedicated to it for the entire day.

3. Writing session – A group of people get together to start writing something. Writing can be collaborative or parallel: everyone can work together (probably in Google Docs) or by themselves (yet with a writing vibe filling the air) to write an article, a manifesto, a book, a blog post, a plan, or what you will.

4. Working session – You’re working on something, and you suspect that some of the people who come to THATCamp might be able to help you with it. You describe problems you want solved and questions you want answered, and strangers magically show up to hear about what you’re doing and to give you their perspective and advice. This is not an hour-long demo; you should come with specific questions or tasks you want to work on with others for most of the session.

5. Workshop – A traditional workshop session with an instructor who leads students through a short introduction to and hands-on exercise in a particular skill. A workshop may be arranged beforehand by the organizers or proposed by a participant who agrees to teach it.

6.  Grab bag – Indefinable by definition. It’s astonishing how creative people can be when you give them permission; performances and games are welcome.

(Text lifted in great part from THATCamp Prime 2012: Sessions.)


1 Response to Sessions

  1. Pingback: It’s Session Proposal Time!!!! Also Twitter, Boogaloo, etc. | THATCamp NOLA (New Orleans) 2013

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