One of the ideas we have borrowed from PyCon this year (and from conferences in the Agile and XP communities) is the concept of Open Space.
Open Space provides a structured way to realise the main benefits of attending a conference: breaking down barriers between special interest groups and encouraging the sharing of experiences with other attendees. Open Space is an area reserved for informal presentations, talks, demonstrations and discussions. Like Lightning Talks, Open Space events are not planned in advance, but unlike Lightning Talks, Open Space events are not plenary and have a much more generous time limit. One could use them to do any (or all) of the following things:
- Meet with like-minded folk to discuss a problem you all have.
- Show off that cool program you have been writing.
- Have someone give their talk again, for those of us who missed it the first time, or have them clarify the parts you found confusing with a demonstration.