Not your father’s technology conference
A conference without a keynote speaker or panelists seems an oxymoron, yet "Unconferenz" will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at JAIMS, the Japan-America Institute of Management Science, at 6660 Hawaii Kai Drive.
The event is open to any and all geeks and geek-appreciators in and around the tech sector, from code-writers to bloggers and vloggers, from academicians and legislators to profusely pocketed persons perusing for profit potential.
Attendance is limited to 100 at the moment.
All of us are dependent upon technology -- even folks who have never sent an e-mail or surfed the 'Net.
The newspaper you are reading would not be in your hands or online without geeks.
The loyalty card you use for groceries would be nonexistent, were there no geeks.
Your VCR clock would constantly blink 12:00 if not for ... oh wait, bad example.
Say what you will about their unintelligible language, geeks are the new rock stars. It's just that many would rather receive adulation via electronic homage than in-person.
Organizers of the tech-geared gathering are "not discouraging people from making presentations," said Burt Lum, businessman and digital evangelist, but a "peer-to-peer environment (that is) more participatory" is the overall idea.
"There's a lot of interesting things going on in the tech community," Lum said.
However, many facets of the community are not interconnected, said his friend and fellow geek Ryan Ozawa. He attends meetings of "local geek groups -- and there are several." Some lament that Honolulu "is not really a tech-town," and, "why doesn't the Linux group hang out with the other group? Why don't they mingle more?"
"Unconferenz" is an experiment to bring varied sub-set together in sort of a human Venn diagram to meet and discuss topics of common interest or find new areas of interest, which attendees are choosing online.
"One goal would be that if people could find out about something they hadn't previously known about and connect with people who can add some value or synergy to what they're working on, to take it to another level. That would be a measure of success," Lum said.
Another goal is to determine whether this type of user-driven event could work on a recurring basis.
"Hopefully we'll have a broad sampling of the (tech) community," said Lum, expressing hope that legislators and financial guys will also attend the event, which costs $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Registration and session suggestions are being handled online at www.unconferenz.com.
Gadgets are likely to be a big topic, Ozawa said. "Everybody is going to be bringing their favorite toys. We may sit in a big circle and fondle everybody else's toys," he laughed.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org