Reflections on WordUp Minneapolis 2012

With the WordUp Minneapolis unconference 24+ hours in the past, it seems a good time to reflect on what went right and what went wrong.

What went right

The event went very smoothly thanks to our volunteers and sponsors.  This was an all-volunteer event, so, literally, it would not have happened without all the donations of time and energy.  Having 10+ volunteers arrive before 8 a.m. made all the preparation seem easy.

Ye Olde Tech Shoppe was a big hit.  No surprise there.

The Nerdery provided snacks and beverages, which was awesome.  The setup, delivery, and takedown of the food and beverages was handled by them, a fact that saved us from exerting our volunteer, budget, and brainpower efforts in that area.  Basically, we were able to focus on other things.   Many thanks to The Nerdery!

The unconference format is way better than more standardized formats.  I attended an expensive and well-known marketing event a week earlier that brought in many nationally-known faces, and I say with certainty that the quality of the interactions at WordUp was much better.  I believe that having local talent lead the discussions leads to better interactions for everybody.  There is something distant about the expectations for imported talent; with the pressure off, local talent can be more nimble in our thoughts and interactions.

The $10 price tag seemed right for the event.  I don’t yet have the final figures on attendance, but we were at capacity for registrations.  With the revenues, we were able to buy 3’x5′ signage for the event as well as color-printed speaker schedules – pretty cool!

What went wrong

I received a couple of complaints that are worth noting:

  1. No bottled water.  I don’t know when our society decided that bottled water is necessary at every turn, even when water fountains are present, but we, regretfully, seem to have reached that point.
  2. Stuffy rooms.  The rooms were hot and stuffy.  Part of me thinks that the hot-and-stuffy-ness of the rooms actually added to the grass-roots ambiance.  Who knows?  We will certainly discuss this before next year’s event.

It seemed to me that Ye Olde Tech Shoppe could have benefited from a different space.  There were more people looking for help than there were people staffing the Shoppe, which I think can be attributed partly to its “hole-in-the-wall” location.  It’s not a horrible space; it just isn’t the type of space that breeds collaboration and the “Hey! Let me help you!” environment that Ye Olde Tech Shoppe requires.  I will make an effort to put the Tech Shoppe in a more open/collaborative space next year.

Those are my thoughts right now.  What were your experiences?

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Toby Cryns

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  1. Peter Fleck on October 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Our culture’s early 21st century legacy will be stacks and stacks of those empty water bottles. I recommend advertising the fountains or bring your own. (Although I left my metal bottle there.)

    Stuffy rooms: Remind people to dress in layers. Maybe those pants where you can unzip the legs and transform to shorts.

    Tech Shoppe: The lounge area by the bathrooms was empty most of the day. I wonder if a couple of tables could be moved out there. Very open and very beautiful view of park.

    You and the rest of the volunteers did a great job!


    • toby on October 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      Great ideas, Peter! Thanks!