Reclaim Open’s Unconference

Image of the poster art for 2007 Northern Voice

Darren Barefoot’s “Art for 2007 Northern Voice poster”

With just a little over two months before Reclaim Open happens I’m thankful we had the forethought to add a day before the official event to host an unconference. My first event of this kind was back in 2007 at Northern Voice’s MooseCamp, and I have to say it was transformative. If you follow the previous link you’ll see the sessions that were run that day,* and I have to say many of them seem quite relevant 15 years on.

But the thing about MooseCamp that was so special were the souls who showed up and worked together for the first hour or so to pitch topics they wanted to discuss, and as a result a schedule for the day emerged that was for and by the people. It allowed for an informal space for folks who may not have had the time or inclination to submit a formal presentation to share, which made room for all kinds of serendipitous connections, different voices, and impromptu discussions that were timely and relevant.

Northern Voice 07 - Moosecamp

Image of the wall of sessions pitched the morning of MooseCamp
Image credit: Cyprien Lomas’s “Northern Voice 07 – MooseCamp”

What’s more, it was foundational for my own sense of an edtech blogging community that was thinking more broadly about how these new publishing forms would impact our culture—in many ways MooseCamp was far more memorable that the official event the following day, and part of that was because it took on the shape of those present in that moment in some truly powerful ways. Also, while only remotely connected to him as a result of the NorthVoice events I had participated in, I was really sorry to hear of the recent passing of one of the organizers of that amazing conference, namely Darren Barefoot—his final post in this world tells the tale of a life worth living.

I’ve since participated in other unconferences, mot recently the University API at BYU, and again found this sense of connection, generosity, and community generative for a memorable event, so I figured it was high time to try it for a Reclaim Hosting conference. And, as often happens, the need for it has becoming increasingly more apparent. Just yesterday Shannon Hauser asked about whether we might be able to fit in another panel to our already full programme about web archiving. And while previously we might have had to politely turn it down, as of now we have an entire day wherein anyone can propose and run sessions about anything from web archiving to Geocities to photography to the fediverse to privacy and security, or whatever else folks with a shared interest care to come together and think through. It’s in many ways a huge attraction of Reclaim Open, the ability to show up for a full day where you can share your interests in the moment if you like, as well as support and learn from others who want to do the same. And who knows, you might even find some magic like I did back in 2007.


*Getting to run a session about using WordPress for “More Than Just a Blog” alongside Candace Nast and D’Arcy Norman remains one of my all-time favorite conference moments. People were truly in it.

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8 Responses to Reclaim Open’s Unconference

  1. Tom says:

    That Northern Voice was right when you’d gotten to the Univ. of Richmond. I was pretty jealous you were getting to hang out with all those Canadian superheroes.

  2. Eric Likness says:

    I think in the Marvel Universe one would refer to them as: Alpha Flight

  3. Alan Levine says:

    Bring the Moose back! Or some kind of Virginia creature.

    It’s nice to see some shreds of those NV wikis left. I was tracking, my NV trips were 2006, 2008, 2011, 20?? Gosh they blur together. I think I was a wiki poster in yours.

    I found one I did with Chris Lott in 2008, Blogs R Dead! (guess they are to some) was able to go in and revive the VoiceThread that was original embedded as flash. Some stuff holds up well, others are left to our leaky memories

    But I am noting how influential those sessions were and am optimistic Reclaim can carry on the torch in that #4life vein.

    • Reverend says:

      Yeah, I agree, seeing the links to sessions and names was really nice. And then I went through a deep-dive on Flickr, and that was equally rewarding. It felt like I was connecting with old friends somehow. In fact, it is the 2006 MooseCamp that you, Brian, D’Arcy and others were blogging that made me so adamant about going to 2007, and I am really glad I did. I think Chris Lott did a session about Tumblr in 2008? Or was that 2007? And it was the first time I heard the term microblog, and I was like WTF!

      Also, it was the first time I met Nancy White and the whole graphic idea display that blew my mind, when you think about it that small event in Vancouver meant a lot for much of what we would do for the next 5-10 years, and for that I am forever grateful. WHAT IS EDUGLU?! I WANT TO KNOW!

      I mean, after 2008 didn’t Mullenweg invite you to speak at the big WordCamp in San Francisco? You lucky, dog!

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