"Just Give the Most Inspiring 2 Minutes of Your Life" : A Behind-The Scenes Look at the #MassTLC 2010 unConference

The MassTLC Innovation 2010 unConference was a huge success. I am so thankful to the volunteer experts who had over 300 1-on-1 meetings with entrepreneurs, and to all the people who came and created an agenda with over 100 sessions in 31 venues. On the day of the event, I enjoyed shooting video. This year, I captured some nice behind-the-scenes footage on the morning of the event. I've edited them together so you could get a sense of what it was like leading up to the opening. Enjoy!

Re-Blog: 10 Ways Driving Someone Else’s Ferrari Is Like Being An Entrepreneur #MassTLC cc:@cgallello @JoshSamBob

This is such a great blog post, I just had to re-blog it here:

...With Josh (Babson MBA 2008) behind the wheel and Chris (Olin College 2012) riding shotgun, we decided to drive all the way from the World Trade Center in the Boston seaport to Babson/Olin to show it off to our friends. Along the way, we realized more and more that the Ferrari ride was actually a lot like entrepreneurship. Maybe this is just a cheap excuse to relive the excitement of tooling down the Mass Pike at 95 MPH, but maybe it’s to show Bill Warner that we actually held an unConference session in the car. Josh and Chris present:
10 Ways Driving Someone Else’s Ferrari Is Like Being An Entrepreneur

Part 2: @billwarner's #MassTLC unConference photostream - What an amazing day!

Here is another set of photos from my camera during the MassTLC 2010 unConference on Thursday, October 14, 2010
These photos are also available on the Facebook page for the event at: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=33768&id=146968118681646. I added a bunch of captions on Facebook to help with tagging.

Also Dan Bricklin posted an amazing 400 beautiful photos on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/danbricklin/sets/72157625162266374/ These are available in a variety of resolutions, including full resolution and all can be downloaded and used under the Creative Commons With Attribution license.

Later, I will post to Flickr or some other site that will allow download of the full resolution photos contained here.

I love Boston. I love Cambridge. I love it here. What an amazing day! #masstlc

It's 5am and I already woke up. So many thoughts from today!

I fell in love with Boston the first time I came here, in 1976. My sister was going to school here. I grew up in New Jersey, and my exposure to a city was New York. Huge, imposing...yes exciting... but surrounded by a moat and you had to pay a toll to get in.

My first impression of Boston was that it was so beautiful, so compact, so walkable, and so inviting. I came in 1977 to go to MIT, and I've been here ever since. The city, the region, and the people just keep getting more amazing. I love it here.

Today, we had the MassTLC Innovation 2010 unConference. It was an amazing event. I'll say more later, but for now:

Thanks so much to everyone who made this event just awesome!

Check out this tweet roll (Thanks Chris Myles) http://masstlcun.blogspot.com/p/masstlc-tweets.html

Check out these amazing photos: (Thanks Dan Bricklin) http://bit.ly/bOMJEi 

Okay, back to bed. Thanks everyone! Wow.

Mega System! Real-Time Twitter/Blogging/Note-Taking for MassTLC2010

SUMMARY: All you need to know is this: Click on this link www.masstlc2010 from anywhere.
- Your smartphone when you're at the MassTLC 2010 unConference,
- Your desktop if you can't come, and want to follow along. Cool real time tweets PER SESSION!
- Anytime after the event, browse to this location to view EVERYTHING about any session! Thanks Chris and Nick!

I love it when things work out great. I love it even more when they work out way better than you ever thought. And when you can even use software at a party (see below).

For last year's unConference,  I asked Nick Tommarello to create an iPhone web-app (looks like an app, but no install needed) so everyone could know what sessions were on the agenda wall without having to go back and look at the wall. He did it, and it worked great. That system is still running, and you can look at all the sessions from 2009 at www.masstlc2009.org. Try it on a browser or an iPhone or Android.

This year, a new player came on the scene and really upped the ante. Chris Myles, who was part of the Anything Goes Lab session in July, came to me a few weeks ago and described a system for fully capturing everything that goes on at the unConference. Frankly, I was swamped with getting the conference going, and it looked really complicated, and I didn't have the brain cells to figure out how it would all work.

Well, fast forward to the last minute, the very time that Nick and I reserved for updating this year's smartphone app. We re-engage with Chris and I start trying to figure out how his whole thing works. Again, I'm kinda stumped. But then finally Chris tells me what I really needed to know: Just hook to these three links, and everything will work. Well today, we did that, and by gosh, this nice clean web-app connected to the Chris Myles megasystem actually works! It will allow all the attendees to capture and view tweets, notes, video, audio, and photos, all in real time, and all properly filed under each session.

So, here's a look at the system:

UI and Core System: (Nick)

- Broswer or web-app
- Ability to quickly add all the sessions to the database at the event
- Browse sessions on Android, iPhone
- Automatic generation sign-in and hash tags for Twitter
- Automatic generation of tagged/hashtagged posting via email

Back End Megasystem: (Chris)

- Build a Blogger page for each room/session (over 100)
- Put real time feed of session specific tweets on each Blog page
- Capture all session tweets in FriendFeed for archival storage
- Replace the real time feed with archival feed after the event on all pages
- Grab all the emails in a Gmail account (for archive purposes and replying to folks later)
- Send emails to Posterous Blog with proper tags per session
- Each Blogger page will later become the "curated" session history. 
- Each session curator will be able to easily find all tweets and content in the Posterous unCut
- Each session blog page will have a Disqus comment section for threaded conversations.

Says Chris: "Instead of having all the Session content scattered throughout the webosphere, we will be gathering the content back into virtual online sessions. These focused virtual sessions will be used to curate key takeaways and content so participants, and those unable to attend, can continue the valuable discussions, shared knowledge and energy long after the unconference is over"

What does all this mean? It means that the over 600 people can truly document and at the same time observe, what is going on in all the sessions. And, for people who cannot come to the event, I believe we will have the most extensive, most organized real-time system for viewing (and maybe even participating in) a remote unconference.
Here's a portion of what the system looked like last year. This year, we've added automatic links to each session that let you:
- Sign into the session and tweet your attendance
- Take notes in the session , then email the notes, post to the blog, and tweet a link ...all automatically
- Take photos, video or audio, and then email it to the blog, which will automatically post a tweet to our handle, @masstlcun
Here's what the system looks like this year. Try it! on your phone or your computer. www.masstlc2010.org This year's unConference has four sessions (five was too many last year...people were exhausted!). We also have the system working for the pre-party, so when you get to an area, like Ping Pong, you can sign via twitter. You can then tweet with the hashtags, or maybe document the valiant wins or crushing defeats via email posts by just clicking the Session Notes link. You can also see everything that's been uploaded to the Posterous blog by clicking the "View Blog" button.

thanks to Nick for his work in both years, and to Chris Myles, for his wonderful new contribution.

Thoughts on "Anything But Work" Pre-Party 6PM Wednesday Oct 13 NERD Center Cambridge

Don't miss this event! All registered attendees are already on the list at NERD. And you can bring a guest! Ideally, please RSVP at http://anythingbutwork.eventbrite.com/. If you forget, and you're registered for the unConference, just come! You're on the list.
I was thinking about how parties and play mix with meetings and work.
Some words seem important, serious and valuable, like "work" and "focus" and "goal."
Some words seem friendly and frivolous, like "party" and "play" and "fun".
For MassTLC 2010, we've got both. And both are part of an overall scheme to drive innovation. The scheme is simple: help people get to know each other, help them meet in work settings (at the unConference) and in casual settings (at the Anything But Work pre-party). But mainly, get them to have fun doing what they love, both in their field of work, and in their field of play.
I urge you to not to miss this party. You'll party and play and have fun. And it will help you with your work, your focus and your goals.

Real Connections, A Real Ferrari, and No Hierarchy - MassTLC 2010

MassTLC 2010 is designed like the Internet - tons of connections and no hierarchy. And the event moves fast, like this Ferrrari 360, which four lucky people will drive at the event and one will take home for the night.

I believe that the core of our innovation economy comes down to a single factor: People. I've been running MassTLC's Innovation unConference for three years now, and our main focus is how to help entrepreneurs find real mentors. When new people join your effort with great advice, even just for a day, you get new energy and new insights that can spark the discovery of new paths.  On my own entrepreneur journey, I had many mentors and assists along the way. My hope is that MassTLC2010 offers these same kinds of opportunities, in the hundreds.  You can register for the conference here.

MassTLC 2010 isn't a typical conference, and it isn't a typical unConference. In this post, I'll review all the ways that our two events - the conference on Thursday, October 14, and the pre-party on Wednesday evening October 13, work together to give all attendees an experience that they simply cannot get at any other event. And, I'll explain how you'll get two chances to drive the Ferrari 360 at the event, and one grand prize chance to bring it home that night!

Great Connections, and Lots of Them 

The foundation of MassTLC2010 is to create as many ways as possible to engender real connections -- the kind where you feel like you can call or email that person later and dive right into your discussion. MassTLC2010 starts "in the round" in a huge room overlooking the piers at the Seaport World Trade Center. Everyone is there to help and to learn, and together, they create the agenda for the day. Last year there were over 80 sessions created. Some are large, some are small, but all of them are attended by people who are there because they care about the subject. The sessions are informal, and are a great way for participants to meet each other in a working environment.

We Start By Lining Up The Help Entrepreneurs Need

MassTLC 2010 is aimed at helping entrepreneurs, and doing that at scale. Not 20 or 30 entrepreneurs, but over 100 this year. So first, we ask people with some valuable experience to become Volunteer Experts. This means that they volunteer to do three 20-minute 1-on-1 meetings during the event, and they are listed on our Roster of Volunteer Experts. Some of these experts have decades of experience. Some have a few years, and may have just received venture funding. But all have something valuable to share with early stage entrepreneurs. And all join the conference with a similar goal: To help.

Finding Entrepreneurs Who Can Benefit From the Help

This year we'll have over 100 volunteer experts -- people who've started successful companies, venture capitalists, angel investors, and technical founders. Then the second step is to find the entrepreneurs who can benefit from this help. We encourage entrepreneurs to apply for sponsorship, which reduces the cost by $250 to just $95, and gives them 1-on-1s, in addition to all the meeting time they get during the event. We choose entrepreneurs not by how far along they are, but rather by how much we believe they can benefit from being a part of the conference and meeting the volunteer experts.

Attracting Great Attendees to Join In

This year, the combination of our Sponsored Entrepreneurs and our Roster of Volunteer experts is over 200 people! The next step is to attract great people from the community to attend the event and lend their energy and ideas. Everyone at the event is the same. Our experts are simply people who volunteered in advance to meet with entrepreneurs. There are no podiums and no panels. All sessions are created on the day of the event, so everyone is here with the same goal in mind: to help and to learn.

The unConference

When I started planning this event over three years ago, I had never heard of an unconference. Instead, I was wondering: Why can't a conference be more like a trade show? Everyone talks at the same time, you get to wander around and see what you care about, and it's fun and exciting. When I learned about the Open Space Technology format that is typically associated with unconferences, I loved the idea. We began working with Kaliya Hamlin, the top technology unconference facilitator in the country. Together, we designed MassTLC2008, MassTLC2009, and now MassTLC2010. Lots of detailed planning has gone into every step of the conference, and it showed in the rave reviews we got in the past two years. This has been a great source of satisfaction for me, and I believe we'll take the event to a new level this year.

New This Year - Giant Pre-Party at Microsoft

We have all seen how generous Microsoft has been in creating a gathering place for our community. This pre-party event is an integral part of MassTLC2010, and it will help add to the real connections you can make. Taking place on all three floors of the NERD center, this party will be expand the ring of people that will take part in this year's event.

- Each registered conference attendee can bring a guest to the party.

- People registered for MassTLC2008 and MassTLC2009 will be sent free invitations

The theme of this party is "Anything But Work". The idea is to create ways for people to have shared experiences with each other around things they love outside of work. Often, once you've gotten to know someone, it's much easier to come together on work ideas later, or help make new connections to other people.

New Venue - Newly Renovated Seaport World Trade Center

The Seaport World Trade Center just finished a huge renovation in February of 2010. The giant ballroom we're using will seat 500 or more in the round for our opening session (and much more with standing, so get there early!). They took out the poles that used to be there, and added a huge outdoor balcony that will be used for the reception at the end of the event. These two new venues put us right where the action is these days - Cambridge and Boston.

New This Year - The Connectors

Even with all our social technology, nothing beats real, human matchmaking. So we've recruited ten young, energetic and well connected members of our tech community to become "Connectors." The connector's job is to get to know all of the Volunteer Experts, and all of the Sponsored Entrepreneurs, as well as many of the attendees. During the event, the connectors will be very visible and available to help people meet each other, including helping entrepreneurs pick which experts might be best for them in the 1-on-1's

New This Year - Drive a Ferrari 360

In an unconference, some of the venues are very small. Maybe even just a table for two. So it makes perfect sense that your small meeting might truly move fast. You and a passenger will have your own little part of the unconference in an Italian sports car. And some lucky driver will take the Ferrari home for the night! Details here.

An Event That Brings Us Together

I'm so excited about this event, and for many reasons. First, it will help entrepreneurs find new people to help them build their companies. Second, it will bring a wide range of people together in a new way that truly spurs conversations and creativity. And third, it's a way for us to get together and create the kind of innovation environment we all want. In real time, in one day. You'd be amazed what can happen. Please join us!  Register here.