I’ve always been a big fan of the Institutional Web Managers Workshop and think Brian and latterly Marieke have done a great job fostering a genuine community amongst web staff in HE. The thing is when I have attended in the past it wasn’t quite a perfect fit for me. Whether I was at ESRC, JISC, HEFCE or even now at Becta the event had topics with enough similarities to what I was doing to be interesting but also enough differences to make me wonder whether it was actually worth it.
That said the challenges face by the various flavours of quango web teams are very similar it seems to me especially dealing with the demands of web convergence and Directgov, the need to demonstrate value for money and how to deal with the rise of the social web. Not to mention more standard issues like getting the best out of CMSs, dealing with procurement and outsourcing, QA and editorial controls etc.
Also as has been proven by the recent media frenzy there an awful lot of these semi-Governmental bodies these days and while the pack may be thinned come the next election I think there will still be more than enough people to build an active community. Especially if some of the central government folk wanted to get involved.
So taking a lead from IWMW I think I’d like to see an event that was a combination of quality keynotes (for example Andrew Stott, Director of Digital Engagement at the Cabinet Office) and then more community style workshops maybe with a bit of an unconference feel. The goal should be as much about building a community as learning in the beginning with sharing experiences high on the list of priorities.
I’d go for a central location – probably Birmingham (always liked the look of the Orange Studios for an event) and do everything possible to keep the costs down which would probably mean getting sponsorship and doing some careful expectation management about what comes as part of the package (BYOL – bring/buy your own lunch seems to be a recent change at some events!).
What do people reckon – does this sound like a decent idea?