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The Learnings of Unconference 101

1 June 2013 No Comment

Every once in a while, something comes along—-and you don’t know what to make of it, then you realise you get to create it…you fashion it, you cut/chop/drill away on it…and facets of the idea begin to emerge, to solidify…and it becomes real, into a surreal experience…

I would say that would be the essence of The Goa Project- Feb & March 2013…

One of the Goa Project's many avatars of the logo

Goa Project’s logo







So one day, I get this call from Vidhya asking me to get on board to join something called ‘The Goa Project’…which would be an ‘unconference’- not heard of that, not been to one… This idea belonged to many but spearheading it was- Vijay Anand & Preetham VV.

Along with Vidhs, we would be managing  the ‘Society’ Track…One of the first steps we had to do was decide the direction in which we would go with track. Our focus became ‘the real stories of social change’: those that worked, those that didn’t, those that are in progress!! So, what came out was 20 themes called the ‘Monocles’ of Society, for speakers to identify their stories on: Cities/ Culture/ Education/ Economy/ Environment/ Gender/ Health/ Internet/ Knowledge/ Law & Justice/ Literature/ Governance/ Mobility/ Race & Ethnicity/ Sustainability/ Equality/ Social Networks/ Creativity & Expression/ Freedom/ Crime & Anomie

The next step was to crowdsource the speakers for the track and this was done via the Hasgeek funnel: http://funnel.thegoaproject.com/society/

So crowdsourcing, did that work for us?

Well, given that we were doing this for the first time, to attain speakers within our realm meant having to look up our phone-books, dig up our memories and scavenge the internet. So, 60% of our speakers arrived on board via our personal networks and the rest through the The Goa Project outreach process itself. So, in the box- we did not crowdsource online but through word-of-mouth.

Did the voting work for us?

Unfortunately, we have a lot to learn in the democratic power of voting and what it really means. We encountered a voting based more on loyalty of networks rather than on the calibre of the topics. So, for a vast majority of topics, we had to use a combination of our judgement and discretion to narrow the selection down. We hope that this won’t happen in the future GoaProjects.

Did we utilize the vote system to our benefit?

Yes, we did. For topics, we weren’t too sure of- we let the voting decide.

So once we got past that, our next step was to confirm and organize our speakers. We worked out  the schedule based on linking the monocles. For example, if one’s topic came within ‘Gender, Law & Justice’, we made sure the next topic either fell within “Gender’ or ‘Law & Justice’ to ensure a connecting flow of ideas.

On the day 29 March 2013…

however, things panned out a bit differently…

Our schedule underwent a change due a couple of reasons:

  1. We were in Goa. We forgot that nothing wakes up for 9am. So, we got tad bit delayed.
  2. A few speakers requested time-slot changes, which was not conveyed to us earlier.
  3. As a result, we could not fit in our originally planned panel discussion of all our speakers.

But apart from that, the talks went on as intended. Our line-up was just fantastic and it was great to hear so many commend on it [with tad bit of bias and love :)] In a nutshell :

We had Aditya Dev Sood talk to us about his ventures in revolutionizing Indian systems of  education and thereby, creating an innovating society. Continuing in that light, Venky discussed how open source online education can provide the necessary reach and impetus of growth of a creative society unlike conventional education. We had Meera talking about spearheading changes through local neighborhood movements and Shreyas covering the tech side of dealing with urban issues such as transportation, health etc. Rahul, further, shed light on the ‘other’ side of Goa and how Konkan cities are more linked than we previously thought.

Aditya Dev Sood on Innovation in Societies & Innovative Societies

Aditya Dev Sood on Innovation in Societies & Innovative Societies


















If Ravi provided insight on how bacteria is essential to our health, Ansoo made us think about what we put onto our plates. Gulika covered how our laws are unclear and perhaps unfair, and how they can be mis/used in the age of information. Priyanka Patel covered how democracy was being  practiced in educational institutions.

Katie and our wee Shwetha elaborated on the politics of sex work though their workshop and Harish dealt with the male perspective on dealing with gender issues. Andrea brought to us stories of how women negotiate sexual repression and expression in their daily lives. The momentum of Andrea’s talk followed through, when Aditi took the stand to talk about how the lack of sex-ed in rural and urban India is allowing myth, ignorance and bigotry to pervade.

Katie & Shweta of Kranti conducting the 'What would you do?' Workshop.

Katie & Shweta of Kranti conducting the ‘What would you do?’ Workshop.


















We, also, had the chance to get a glimpse of the prototype ‘jugaad’ vehicle which Abhinav had in place to change the way people travel in rural India. Reshmi covered where consumerism was leading us and Sameer showed us the future of our society if we continued to consummate our greed with petroleum and other exhaustive resources.

Phew!! That was a whole lot to take in, in one day- 6 hours intensity!! And that’s us below-


Team Society











And before I forget, the lovely artwork created by Karlyle Gomes for our T-shirts!!

The Goa Project on our chests

The Goa Project on our chests

















The aftermath…

We realised, we didn’t have much documentation of our track. Somehow, no-one managed to take photos of the Society track. But there has been loads of press coverage of the event itself.


The Hindu: http://tinyurl.com/hindugoaproject

The Navhind Times: http://tinyurl.com/navhindgoaproject

Photos http://www.facebook.com/TheGoaProject

Twitter https://twitter.com/search?q=%23tgp2013

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