What is an unconference?

An unconference is a lightly organized conference in which participants propose and facilitate sessions. No prepared formal presentations and no Power Points – this cannot be stressed enough! Unconference sessions are meant to be free-flowing discussions, not presentations of one person’s work or point of view. Each session should be like the best college or graduate school seminar: dynamic, collaborative, thought-provoking and fun.

This video, called “Unconference 101,” gives an overview of how it works.

What is “hacking” and why on earth would we want to hack heritage?

“Hacking” is associated with data breaches, yes, but it also more generally is associated with modifications or disruptions to existing objects, programs and ideas. We see “hacking” as an approach to cultural heritage that questions norms and attempts to formulate alternatives through collaborative discussion and debate.

Can I attend without proposing a session?


How do I propose a session?

There are two ways to propose a session: online or in person, the morning of the Unconference. Proposing online prior to March 11 is great for two reasons. It gives you more room to describe the questions, approaches or projects that you would like to facilitate and it gives other participants a sense of the different sessions that might take place on March 11.

To propose a session online, just go to our registration page and register to attend; when an email confirmation comes in confirming your registration, click on that and then go to our proposal page, where you can enter information about your proposed session. Click on “upload” and your proposal will be logged on this page for all participants to view, and it will be automatically included as a Session Proposal when all participants vote on sessions on the morning of March 11.

How are sessions chosen?

All participants will vote on the morning of March 11 for the sessions they want to see. We will tape all of the session proposals in a grid on a wall and all participants will cast votes for their top 4 choices by marking each of their choices with a tally mark; votes will be quickly tabulated and an Unschedule put together and disseminated listing all sessions and their locations.

What kinds of sessions can be proposed?

All kinds, including general discussion sessions, project-based discussion/prototyping sessions, technology/skills workshop sessions or miscellaneous experimental sessions which may even take place outside of the building, such as walks and tours.

When should I propose a session?

You can propose a session as early as you’d like, but most people will propose sessions online in the few weeks leading up to the unconference. You can also propose sessions on March 11 – see below.

Can I register and propose a session on-site on March 11?

Absolutely. If you do plan to register and propose on-site, just make sure you arrive right on time at 9am to ensure that you have enough time to register, write up your proposal on a sheet of paper and give it to us to tape up to the wall before participant voting starts at 9:20am. We will take more write-in proposals for the afternoon sessions, and these will be due to the front desk by 12:30pm. Also: we can only take cash or check if you register on-site on March 11, so if you need or intend to use a credit card, please register online prior to March 11.

What happens if my session gets chosen?

We will assign all sessions to a particular room in Smith-Buonanno, so the first step will be to find out what room you have been assigned and then report to that room. All sessions will have a facilitator and a note-taker; the facilitator is there to make sure everyone in the room has a chance to participate and the note-taker is there to make a record of the session that will be publicly accessible on our website. All sessions should start with a fun prompt/exercise/question that quickly breaks the ice; we will pass out a suggested list of prompts to each of the session’s facilitators.

Will I be able to present material on a laptop if my session is chosen?

No prepared slides. If you would like to bring handouts for a session, you can bring paper handouts that can be given out if your session is chosen (sessions generally get between 8-20 people, so bringing 10-15 would be fine as people can share).

Can I leave a session that I’m in and join another one?

Absolutely – this is why we’ve reserved rooms in Smith-Buonanno Hall that are so close together.

Are the sessions recorded and archived on the unconference website for future reference?

No videography will be done, but all of the session notes will be available on our website after the unconference concludes.

Can I post content to social media before, during and after the Unconference?

Yes, please! Our Twitter hashtag is #heritage17 – check it out as we are already using it as a forum for discussion about issues in cultural heritage and preservation. Feel free to contribute or follow along even if you cannot attend the unconference!

How many sessions will there be?

There will be roughly 12-17 sessions to choose from over the course of the day, with 3-4 different options per block of time. Check out the Unschedule here.

Is there a registration fee?

Yes, there is a registration fee of $10, and that covers your lunch. Payment can be taken online via credit card or on March 11 at the registration table with cash and check only. Please note that we will not be set up to take credit card payments on March 11, so if you must pay with a credit card, please do so online prior to March 11.

Is lunch provided and where is it held?

Yes, lunch is provided for all attendees who have paid the registration fee. If you require a special lunch due to a food allergy, intolerance or to conform with a special diet, please contact Sabina Griffin by Friday, February 24 at sabina_griffin@brown.edu.

What happens at the end of the day?

We will have a final wrap-up meeting at the end of the day at which each proposer or facilitator will give a 3-minute recap of what transpired in the session he/she facilitated.

Have another question? Email marisa_brown@brown.edu.