How to Keynote an Unconference

Michael Feldstein, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, May 15, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

When we tried it our unkeynote was less than a success. But to judge from comments after the event, says Michael Feldstein, his effort at an unkeynote went reasonable well. So what worked? "The point of an unkeynote should be to prime the conversational pump," he writes. But how? He considers some of the creativity exercises in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. The idea is to have yourself (or your audience) create something, anything - a collage from a magazine, or a solution (written down) to a problem. Whatever. (Contrast with what we did: we asked people to begin by speaking out loud in front of an audience.) "So," he writes, "I gave a talk that didn’t demand immediate group participation, but it was all questions." Me, I think a keynote composed of questions is still a keynote, not an 'unkeynote'. But I think he maybe made the right call in getting up there and delivering a talk, rather than turning it over to the audience, even in an unconference. But you know, I like the collage idea...

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