ONLINE: The purpose of commscamp has changed and I couldn’t be happier

I’m writing this the morning after commscampstayshome with a cup of tea breathing a sigh of relief and reflecting.

This event was an attempt to run an online unconference using tech that would be new to all 170 ticket holders.

Broadly, I think it worked and for that I can only thank all those who came and who sponsored.

There were teething problems but I had lightbulb moments and could see Eureka moments happen with some attendees.

Consider this as a bit of a brain dump.

Pick the tech

It wouldn’t have worked without a steer towards Qiqochat from Lloyd Davis. It’s a platform that works with Zoom but allows one big room and then break-out rooms. Crucially, attendees can navigate between rooms themselves. That’s a gamechanger. Thanks, Lloyd.

Don’t burn the nice people out

All day online? Too much. Two half days feels right as did the social the night before. But absolutely run it in office hours. This should be part of the job.

Get the IT back-up

We had a man who made the thing work. Orkney Council IT whizz Sweyn Hunter has spent the last 10-years wishing events would be online so he could more easily go to them. He helped trial this idea with Islandcamp in 2012. He tweaked our platform and made it worked. Vitally, he was onhand the day before and on the day to sort tech queries.

Trust the process

The idea of an unconference is very simple. It uses open space principles. In a nutshell, the agenda gets chosen on the day by attendees. It sounds crackpot right up until the point where you see it in action. Then it becomes intoxicating.

It basically means you can respond to a fast-moving landscape and try and crack today’s problems rather than listen to someone talk about a problem from six months ago with five minutes for questions.

If you trust the process, it works. It just does. It’s so liberating to see that’s the case online as well as offline.

The need for commscamp has changed

When we started commscamp in 2013 it was in the spirit of optimism that saw people come together to work out how that social media can be a force for good.

That’s still the case. 

For me, the purpose for commscamp has changed. It is now a place for people working in isolation to come together to make some sense of a landscape spinning out of control.

What people were doing before lockdown isn’t what they’re doing after four weeks of lockdown and isn’t what people are doing today. 

The answer is not to wait to be spoon-fed but to be active in sorting out a solution. Active too in seeking out those who have made a start.


Thank you to my fellow organisers Kate Vogelsang, David Grindlay, Emma Rodgers, Arlene McKay, Kate Bentham, Sweyn Hunter and Bridget Aherne and our lovely sponsors.

But thank you most of all to those who came and made the thing fly.

Join the Conversation


  1. Sweyn is a top man. He has long been a voice in the wilderness advocating for remote access to meetings. As someone who has major travel barriers for getting to a lot of meetings, he knows what he is talking about

  2. I really appreciated the event dan and others and made important links too for hopefully improved partnership working. The working in isolation point really resonates with me. That’s why I’ve always like the fb group and the event. Such an awesome format , I love it.

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