“If this conference sucks, it’s your fault.”

“If this conference sucks, it’s your fault.”  That was the proclamation issued by Wren Lanier, one of the organizers of RVA’s Bill Conference.  The conference’s tag line: “Ideas are easy. Making things is hard.”  Yes.  That sounds about right.  That’s familiar.

The past week moved too fast for me to really give much thought to Bill.  I went in without expectations.  I went in surprised that I remembered to go.  It ended up being a really good way to spend a Saturday.  There was a nice mix of people, good energy.  There’s talk of future Bill meetups, and I hope that happens.

Like most unconferences, the Bill Conference had no key note speakers, no predetermined sessions, no breakout sessions.  The folks who talked had very little (if any) preparation and pretty much waxed philosophical about what it takes to make things from movies to iOS apps to community.

(One of the conference participants talked about his involvement in the 48-hour Film Project.  This short was the submission for 2012’s event.)

Some of the themes from the day: (1) Set your ideas free (write them in a notebook or share them with others).  See what comes back in the form of feedback or help.  (2) Commit to sucking.  It takes time to get good.  Making bad things is necessary before the good things can be born.  (3)  Procrastination is usually a sign that there are no constraints in place.  Add constraints if that is what works for you.  (4) Don’t get so hung up on the preparation.  If you’re preparing too much, you’re not doing anything.

I think it was Taber Bain who recommended keeping for a week “a list of things that annoy the s**t out of you.”   After the week ends, consult the list and commit to fixing/hacking some of those annoyances.  It’s the perfect suggestion for a person who wants to do something.

Lists/notebooks/some physical or virtual manifestation of thoughts and ideas were mentioned several times throughout the day.  Writing something down, recording a voice memo, or whatever isn’t a revolutionary idea, but it’s definitely a habit I need to nurture.

photo by Brenderous (Flickr)

Thoughts and potential good ideas are easily lost in all the noise.

Wren’s assertion that a sucky conference would be the fault of those of us who paid to attend was spot on.  Unconferences are participatory.  The topics discussed are decided on by those who paid (whether in money or time or both) to come.  I briefly thought about “presenting,” but decided against it when I saw myself pacing the stage and muttering, “Uh…. um…. uh….”  My participation included: listening, thinking, and an occasional tweet.  This could be described as passive, which leads into tomorrow’s topic…

On deck….  The burden of being a “mute.”


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