Online Community Unconference 2008 – It’s a wrap!

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report.

The Online Community Unconference was held this Wednesday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

How was it? In a word? AWESOME.

We had 250 participants from a diverse range of organizations, including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Linden Lab, SeeqPod, Flickr, LinkedIn, Cisco, Sun and Current TV.

We had a jam packed day (started @ 8:30 and ran until 5:30). The energy was palpable. Check out the short video I shot below of folks reviewing the session grid shortly before session 1.

http://www.flickr.com/photo_embed.gne?id=2593476294&context=set-72157605703221824

Over the course of the day, participants held over 50 sessions about community strategy, UX, management, member engagement and technology.

Session topics included:

  • How do we motivate empowered users to participate positively
  • Worst Case Scenerios – What to do when things go terribly wrong
  • The Numbers Behind Trust – The hidden numbers that govern group dynamics
  • Internationalizing content & community
  • Meet them where they are vs. If you build it they will come
  • Building the Collaboration Ecosystem – All components for community building success
  • Cross Networking Madness – How are niche communities using data portability
  • Community Management 101: How to get started in this big wide world
  • Web 2.0 Components to build B2B Collaborative Communities
  • Community Year One – Phases, Activities, Successes
  • Community Management 2.0 – Success & Failures
  • The platforms for community are SH*T. Discuss
  • Effective Ambassador programs
  • Pulling the plug – how/when/why?

My observations:

It’s 2 days later, and I have to admit my head is still spinning. The quality of content and conversation was high, and there is still a lo of processing I need to do. My genreal impressions were:

This was the “Community Community” coming together.
This was not an event where a few talking heads lectured the masses. This was a gathering of the tribes for those who manage communities and set community strategy on a daily basis.

The conversation has matured. There were far fewer folks that wanted to talk about community 101 this year as compared with last year’s Unconference. Topics were fairly sophisticated and most of the direct feedback I got was that participants were pleased to discover the level of experience represented by the other participants.

The lack of standards is REALLY starting to hurt. Focus is (finally) beginning to shift from islands of communities to the larger community ecosystem. A general lack of standards around nomenclature, metrics, data schemas (including profile structure), profile accessibility and community UX (to raise just a few issues) is starting to come up as a real issue more often. I think we are finally mature enough as an industry to have the discussions as a body of practice (and contribute to and help direct discussions on tactical problems, like Data Portability).

The best resource about online communities is the community of practice. This statement is actually a common thread in all of Forum One Network’s activities. We believe the best and most valuable source of information about building and growing healthy online communities is the body of practitioners.

We will be opening up the Unconference wiki in about a week, and will post highlights of the session notes. In the meantime, lot’s of folks were twittering and blogging. I’ve posted highlights below.

Other Unconference highlights:
http://twemes.com/ocu2008
http://summize.com/search?q=ocu2008
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=ocu2008
http://www.grimwell.com/?p=211
http://talk.lithium.com/lithium/blog/article?blog.id=lithium&message.id=139#M139

PS: Tasty Snacks = Accomplished!

Bill Johnston - Founder, Structure3C. Former Head of Community at Dell & Autodesk. Mobile: (415) 233-6914 Twitter: @billjohnston LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/billj In a sentence: Seasoned online community and social media executive and advisor with over 15 years experience developing large scale online communities, social media initiatives and successful online product strategies.

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