The Unconference

A common societal misconception is that doctors and lawyers are rich. Some are, it’s true. But the vast majority of doctors and lawyers in the U.S. get by in life and are able to provide decently for their family. The salaries may be respectable, but most of the lawyers and doctors I know are far from rich. And given my situation, I know a lot of doctors and lawyers.

In this country, more than any country I know of, it is ideas that have the potential to make one rich. A good idea and solid execution (and sometimes luck) is what’s behind the wealth of this country (read YouTube guys). Once properly executed, all the idea requires is maintenance and the ability to change when change is needed. While some ideas fail, many have revolutionized the world, and the people behind that idea have made a fortune in the process. There is an interesting article in this week’s BusinessWeek magazine (click here for the article) regarding the idea of the unconference. Essentially, the unconference is a conference on a particular topic(s) that everyone who attends may actively participate in, similar to the concept of a wiki online. The days of watching PowerPoint slides and paying to listen to speakers in hotel conference room without ever opening your mouth will soon be behind us. At an unconference, you can get up and leave when you want to explore the other various presentations, decide the day of to be a speaker, and even ask the presenter a question whenever you want (no Q&A sessions exist at the unconference). It’s the conference 2.0, if you will. While reading the article I had the same feeling that I did when I first learned of Second Life almost two years ago. The feeling that the world is changing right before my eyes and, to quote a hero from my generation, “if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Yet, at it’s root, the notion of the unconference started as an idea. For those people smart enough to take advantage of this new phenomenon, wealth will flow their way. For the companies that refuse to embrace this for too long, disaster could be lurking. I, personally, am still searching for my idea. Any ideas?

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