WineCamp, NetSquared... and Us

Submitted by Sarah Pullman on Tue, 2006-06-06 23:09.

I've been back for a few days from my California trip now, and meaning to write about my experiences at both the NetSquared Conference, and WineCamp. Between the two of them I learned a lot, and also had a lot of opportunity to reflect on the differences in the offerings, and where Web of Change fits in. At the risk of tooting our own horn, I think that Web of Change combines the best of both of those events. And that's why you should come this fall!


Winecamp was an informal "un-conference", held out in the Sierra foothills on a very beautiful vineyard. A diverse mixture of people showed up, and there was no real structured agenda. The idea, at this and other Barcamps, is that all the wisdom required is held by those who show up, and the right conversations will happen when given the space to.

And sure enough, there was no shortage of knowledge. We self-organized into break-out sessions and learned a great deal from each other. Blasted through some projects in small groups, too, on the second day (when we moved from the vineyard with no power to the winery with wifi). 

NetSquared, on the other hand, was a far more traditional conference. It took place in San Jose, and featured expert speakers presenting at the front of the room, mostly. There were a LOT of people there (300, I think?) and a whole ton of stuff to absorb.

The organizers put a lot into trying to make it more "intimate", both online and offline, and on the second afternoon we broke into small groups to work on projects. But the fact remains that with that many people, and that much content, you just don't even get a chance to talk to the majority of the people there. And (if you're me, at least) you only take in a fraction of the available information.

Which leads me to my point about Web of Change, where we try to strike the balance between conference and "un-conference".

We believe that structure is a necessary complement to open space and spontaneity, and that time and ease are required to really build the relationships that last beyond the exchange of a business card or the hurried hallway conversation.

Our sessions are well-facilitated, and carefully thought-out based on the input of our community and collaborators. We do bring in subject "experts", but we also recognize that in this field, to large extent we're all pioneers. And the beauty of WOC is that it's four full days long, and you're stuck on a gorgeous rural island with your fellow pioneers. The opportunities to collaborate with and learn from each other abound – both in the sessions and out. 

I'm really grateful to have been at both Winecamp and Netsquared, because I met some really amazing and inspiring people doing some amazing work in the world. So here's hoping that lots of you make your way up to Cortes Island this September, to bring your juice and genius to our party... because it's shaping up to be a great one.


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"If you have a chance to go, I strongly recommend it. Beyond the amazing setting (Hollyhock is right out of a fairytale), you will meet and interact with committed, knowledgeable people who live and breathe technology and online strategy. (I also learned almost as much about myself at this conference as I did about web-based campaigns.) "
Kevin Reid, formerly of Amnesty International USA