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Start Brainstorming Session Ideas for IndieWebCamp East 2020

IndieWebCamp East 2020 is scheduled for the weekend of November 14-15, 2020 and will be held entirely online this year. RSVPs are open now if you’d like to register for free.

If you’ve never been to an IndieWebCamp before, we’ve got some details about what to expect. It’s not on the schedule yet, but sometime the week before camp we hope to have one (or more) intro sessions about what to expect at camp geared toward first time attendees as well as overviews of the technology we’ll be using if you’d like to do some (entirely optional) advance technology set up to make your weekend more fun and productive.

Much like in-person camps, the program of sessions will be created on Saturday morning by the participants who show up to participate. 

To help facilitate scheduling sessions on the day of camp, we’re asking attendees (who feel inspired) to begin the process of thinking about what topics they’d like to discuss at camp. Perhaps you’ve got a topic you’d like to learn more about? Maybe you’re thinking about a new frontier to explore and want to facilitate a group discussion around. Maybe it’s a topic you’ve explored fully and you’d like to help others learn about? Maybe it’s something you’d like to design or build that weekend, but might need some help thinking about.

Sessions are the heart of a camp.

Unlike traditional conference formats, IndieWebCamps have a self-organizing character, relying on the passion and the responsibility of the participants who attend. Attendees schedule sessions typically by writing on a large Post-It note or piece of paper and then placing them on a ‘grid’ of sessions by timeslot and conference room or virtual space. This time, we’ll be creating sessions together online.

Session proposals typically contain the following:

  • A descriptive title;
  • A facilitator name for a session (usually, but not always, the person proposing the session);
  • A longer description about what might be discussed, brainstormed, or researched during a particular session; and
  • A unique short hashtag that will be used to create an etherpad and other possible related resources for a session.

Everyone who attends camp is encouraged to submit a session idea. There isn’t such a thing as a bad idea for a session. You don’t need to know something about a particular topic to propose it, it may be something you’d simply like to learn about.

If you’re not sure where to start for ideas, try asking yourself any of the following questions:

  • What would I like my website to be able to do?
  • How did xyz get their site to do something?
  • I’d like to quit using social silo X? What would I need to do to replace that functionality to do that on my own website?
  • What would I like to learn about this weekend?
  • What could I help others to learn based on my past experience?
  • Are there pages/ideas from the wiki that might benefit from a brainstorming session?

Past sessions are also a great source of ideas, and it can often be a good idea to revisit old session ideas to discuss new methods of approaching a problem, new design ideas, or new ideas that have come up since those prior sessions.

On the first morning of camp, once everyone has had the chance to write down one (or even more) session ideas, everyone will take turns one-at-a-time to place their ideas into slots on the session grid for particular time slots and Zoom rooms. Generally we give first-time/new attendees the chance to schedule their proposals first. If there are similar or overlapping session proposals, session facilitators can discuss concatenating them into a single session.

If you’d like to begin thinking about session ideas before camp begins, please do so. Hopefully this jump start will help us to more quickly organize the sessions on the first day of camp so we have more time for the sessions themselves.  We’ve set up an Etherpad at https://etherpad.indieweb.org/2020-East-Sessions to let people begin collaborating on and thinking about ideas before camp begins. If you like, in true IndieWeb fashion, we’d invite you to post your session ideas on your own website as a place to keep them until camp starts on Saturday, November 14th.

If you have questions before camp about the process or need help in any way, feel free to jump into the IndieWeb chat and ask anyone in the community for help or guidance.

To reiterate, we’d love everyone attending to propose at least one session and you’ve got an opportunity to begin thinking about it now so that you’re not as pressed for time on the day of camp.  Posting your session ideas ahead of time is entirely optional, but may help you (and others) out by beginning the brainstorming now. We will explain all of this again on the first morning of camp and you’ll have a little bit of time to make proposals then as well, so don’t sweat it if you’re not inspired to do something now.

We look forward to seeing you in November.

Published by

Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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