Its easy to pick holes in most things and I am pretty good at doing it myself.
Indeed it is also easy to find fault with Govcamp and the unconference format; and I can certainly see some things we can improve on regarding organising the event.
However that does sound a bit odd ‘organising an unconference’ but the thing I did learn from Govcamp is the amount of work that goes into finding the right kind of venue at the right kind of cost (even if venue is free security, cleaners and food are not). You would not believe the work that the whole team put in and their level of commitment to get everything right.
So what did Govcamp ever do for me?
Well I learnt more about working with volunteers around a common project where none of us had a particular grade or could ‘pull rank’. So trying to put aside egos and work as a true team was a great experience that I would totally recommend. I certainly gained a new respect for the others who I had often never worked with on any project. Their level of professionalism and eye for detail was impressive, never mind the personal time that they dedicated to the event.
As ever its the ‘backroom boys (and girls)’ who make these events tick. For example the security staff at the GLA were lovely, flexible and helpful; as well as the AV team and Leanne Florent from the GLA who was there all day and as a result set up her own Twitter account.
An open space
As Jeremy Gould said to me later the whole reason he started the event was to create the space for people to interact around common interests and issues. This is the pay-off every year.
Being one of the organisers did make it harder to talk to people that at previous event still…I was able to have a quick catch up chat with a number of friends as they came through security.
I was able to show someone I had not met before a great resource for advice and tips around social recruitment and introduce him to another friend who is interested in the same topic.
A number of times I was able to say to someone ‘have you met x? let me introduce you’. Looking back this is the bit that gives the nice feeling.
Over lunch there were some great chats with colleagues from Parliament, National Statistics and the National Archives where a number of ideas were bounced around and plans hatched. Where else do you get the time to do this is a relaxed atmosphere?
Again wandering around between packing sandwiches and tidying up I kept coming across groups of people having chats, catch-ups, laughing etc.
After the torrential downpour we made our way over to the pub.
So even more chances to talk to other people. I have to say my personal highlight was talking to Jeremy for what seems like the first time properly. A real honour.
So what has Govcamp done for us?
Its brought more of us together; there were lots of new faces which is great; old friendships were renewed and new friends made. The digital community was refreshed for another year and the other networks such as those around the police or local or central government criss-crossed with the others.
You might have noticed I have not even mentioned all the breakout groups around specific topics where knowledge was shared and ideas generated.
So I reckon the Romans might have some competition in terms of the ‘what did the …… ever do for us’ stakes.