Before TCamp14 becomes a distant memory, we just wanted to reflect on the whirlwind that was (is) our annual 2-day unconference on transparency, data and open government. This year’s TransparencyCamp, our 6th year, was a coming of age for our (un)conference with a chart topping number of attendees from around the United States and the world. While there were still a number of familiar faces, this year’s TCamp also attracted many first timers– with over a third new Campers! The year’s unconference served as a venue for connecting new communities, fostering knowledge exchanges and providing a safe space for learning, dialogue and exploration in opengov.
At TCamp14, we were also able to practice what we preach by developing tools (blog post to come on the Counselor app that powered TCamp14) to help facilitate TCamp as well as generate some real-time data at the unconference.
So, what did we learn?
Our analytics showed that TCampers are either early birds or last minute mules when it comes to registering, with the bulk of registrations happening in the days before the unconference. We also discovered that TCampers come raring to go on the first day with a majority of conference check-ins happening in the first two hours of camp. This year was also a first for us in experimenting with a Friday/Saturday format which was successful with an estimated return rate of 84% (based on lunches served) on day two. Armed with this data, we are happy to announced that we will establish a tradition of the two day unconference starting on Friday.
Even with so many newcomers, this year’s TCamp did not lack substance and featured nine keynote and lightning speakers. We learned about the community efforts from groups like LISC-Chicago who is hacking opengov to make it more inclusive and from Rachel Hatch who streamed live from Redding, CA and organized the National Day of Civic Hacking event to improve her community’s image on the web. TCampers also had a chance to learn about new opengov projects such Capitol Bells and Poplus as well as hobnob with tech giants such as Google, Socrata, Granicus, Github, and Microsoft. We also screened the OpenGov Champions video tribute to Ellen Miller, Sunlight’s co-founder and Executive Director, to salute her last TCamp at the helm. You can watch all the keynote and lightning speakers here.
A hallmark of TCamp is the various and numerous sessions lead by TCampers with over 100 featured this year. As with previous camps, we built in an Etherpad for each session for participants to take notes live and reference the conversation post-camp. You can find those and relive the unconference here.
Some of our favorite sessions were:
Open Data from the Inside by Mark Headd
The Talk: How to Increase Diversity at Your Organization lead by Erie Meyer and Aliya Rahman
Who is Benefitting from Open Data and How? with Samuel Lee, Antonio Moneo and former OpenGov champ Sandra Moscoso
#OpenGovNow: Innovations on gathering citizen feedback convened by Felipe Estefan
Some of the key take-home themes that emerged from TCamp14 was the need to learn from each other (across cities, states, and countries), to iterate and build on existing work and to do better to connect non-tech with tech inside government, nonprofit and academia. You can check out these sentiments in their own words in this Storify we put together of TCamp14.
In addition to the content provided, TCamp is also a networking and social event, connecting opengov enthusiasts from all sectors and perspectives in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. This year’s TCamp featured a robot named Wallace (here’s the code to make his arm wave), ten lego teams and three local area food trucks.
To empower us with data for future food decisions, we also were able to track the popularity of each food truck and also analyze return rates using the TCamp Counselor App.
This TCamp was the most documented one in TCamp history on social media, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube. Special thanks to the Internet Society and Nicko for your hard work capturing TCamp14 on camera and online.
Lastly, TransparencyCamp would not be possible if not for the staff, volunteers and sponsors who support the unconference. You can now purchase your own stylish kiwi-green volunteer TCamp t-shirt from our booster campaign (minimum 20 t-shirt pledges to print.)
We look forward to hearing about the opengov conversations back in your community throughout the year. And if you have a project that emerged from TCamp14, make sure to add it here so we can follow up.
See you next year at TCamp15!