If you’ve not come across the term before, an unconference tends to have a general theme (e.g. Library 2.0) but the actual agenda for the event is decided on the day by whoever turns up. In fact, the people who do turn up are the “right” people for that particular event. There may be a small number of pre-planned sessions (e.g. someone talking about how they’ve used a blog in their library), but the idea is very much that you decide what you’d like to learn about and then one (or more) of the delegates volunteers to talk about it.
All attendees are expected to participate in some way — either by giving a short presentation or talk (vaguely relevant to the theme), or by asking questions during the sessions. Once the agenda for the day has been agreed, there will typically be multiple sessions running at the same time and a “two feet” rule applies — if the session you’re in isn’t of interest or isn’t what you thought it would be, you just leave and join one of the other sessions.
As you can imagine, the emphasis is very much on networking, discussion, spontaneity, serendipity, and the sharing of experiences. In fact, in some ways, an unconference emulates the networking that goes outside of the sessions at a formal conference.
So, if there was such a unconference in the UK, would you consider going?