Govcamp goes big?

There was a bit of a burst of energy on the #ukgc14 tag on Twitter this week – six months or so before the event is actually expected.

James Cattell has jumped in to the driving seat as organiser for the event as Steph has stepped back as his efforts to move from small to medium (and beyond) enterprise pick up speed 🙂 Not sure what role Dave will have in this new regime but I assume he is still involved.

James floated the idea of a much larger venue (500ish) and a move to Slough for the event.

This spurred all manner of responses and I thought I would just try and add a bit more than my couple of tweets allowed (plus I was a little hungover yesterday morning!)

Stefan C summed up my own quandary over on his own blog much better than I could do go read that then come back if you still have time to kill.

Basically I think there is a ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix’ element I’d like to protect and the fact is I believe for unconferences there is an upper limit of attendees before things start to break down.


Dan Slee is right, as is James. The current limits on attendees does leave a lot of people disappointed and at times give the impression of some kind of private club – something I know I complained about before I got entry myself 🙂 Refreshing the delegate list can only be good in the long term.


I am also not a fan of the idea of running regional events in parallel with the London event. One of the great strengths of Govcamp is that it isn’t entirely London-centric. It attracts people from all over the country. People you wouldn’t meet up with otherwise at local events.


That isn’t to say I don’t think there remains a lot of room for more regional events spread out over the year. I think the idea Steph and Dave had around the ‘grants‘ was amazing and I’d like to see something like that expanded perhaps with more resources behind it (potential venues, guides to running the day, potential sponsors, legal issues) and perhaps even small grants to allow people to attend events outside of their home cities? I’ve just thought of this so its not exactly well thought through.


Unlike many I do not think unconferences are the be all and end all. In fact my favourite event is something different altogether. Neither barcamp nor traditional conference. Plus it is HUGE! The Mozilla Festival is, to my knowledge, pretty unique but it works brilliantly if chaotically and manages to maintain that energy associated with unconferences but with some pre-defined structure. Though that structure can be pretty fluid!


What the hell do I know. If I get a ticket I’ll attend if not I’ll run something local I would imagine. I am grateful people like James care enough to step up to run things and try to evolve them. It is an amazing community that has evolved around this gov/public sector digital space and I have confidence.

One response to “Govcamp goes big?”

  1. I’ve only just picked up on this conversation, so thank you for this helpful story-so-far. Here’s my take:
    – the unconference intros are essential for the reasons Stefan lists in his post and more
    – so is the shared agenda setting process. Hearing what’s on who’s mind even if a million miles from your own preoccupations is important in itself
    – keeping these sessions means limiting numbers for practical reasons
    – the demand for this kind of event means they should be run all over the UK (as they are already)
    – using funds generated by those events able to attract sponsors and recycling proceeds to those that can’t seems an excellent model
    – I simply cannot see the attraction of having all the events on the same day. Its hard enough trying to absorb new ideas, people and experience from a single event, so lots of benefit in events happening at different times, almost like a relay………..

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