The "un" workshop known as Techdirt Greenhouse proved to be more than just another inspiring day spent with a intimate group of very smart people sharing knowledge, ideas and sound thoughts and advice for startups who presented. It was Techdirt CEO Mike Masknick's vision of A Conference of Lunches, Take One.
This was slightly less informal than recent "Camp" gatherings...a bit more structure while incorporating today's world. User generated everything. Short demos with no PowerPoint allowed (thank you). A melting pot of talent and knowledge. And oh by the way, here's *your mission* for today.
Everyone came ready to share their expertise, formulate outcomes, debate, learn and advise. Google, Yahoo!, Intel, Microsoft and Apple people meeting minds with VCs, investors, seasoned CXO's, bloggers, journalists, software developers, and entrepreneurs. All ready to listen, learn, collaborate, teach, talk and at the end of the day, socialize. On the fly. Sort of.
Having been "schooled" by the Swedes in a KM (knowledge management) environment, I'm familiar and comfortable with the mindset of an open architecture, flat structure, sharing knowledge and information, everyone's an expert mentality. This is something we did on a regular basis: bring together people of all levels, from very different roles, give them a real-life business challenge and see what they come up with. Together. Show and tell with a big, huge, intellectual and interactive twist.
That's where Greenhouse really hit the gold: ad-hoc collaboration that worked. The Techdirt Mikes (seems most everyone at Techdirt is named Mike, and apparently they all attended Cornell) and Dennis pulled it off.
One thing that seems obvious: traditional conferences, seminars, workshops need a redux. One conclusion I've drawn after participating in recent 'un' events: maybe it's time to meet halfway. Somewhere between conferences of the old and un events of the new, as Robert Scoble suggests.
A side but notable note: the afternoon prior to the event I was lucky enough to sit down with Shel Israel. We talked about this theme at length, and thankfully he was able to attend the event's afternoon fun. Shel gave an excellent overview on the Conferenza blog here.