I am going to UK Gov Camp 2011 this weekend. Saturday, to be precise (disclaimer: I paid, my personal time). And I'm really quite excited. Here's why.
I don't work in central government. I don't have Head or Director before job title. I am right at the bottom of grades before you get to cleaner. Refuse collectors used to get paid more than me. 6 months ago, the word Administrator was in my job title, pretty much.
What I am, unashamedly (and I refuse to be ashamed of this any more) is voraciously curious. About everything. UK Gov Camp is an unconference - something which seems to have escaped the radar of some attendees who requested an agenda, the response to which made me laugh very hard. Unconferences do not have agendas. Which seems to go against the grain with some people as much as their ability to comprehend the basics of quantum mechanics. In the same way that quantum wont work if you look at it, unconferences wont work if you examine them too hard either. Chaos. Reigns. Chaos is good. Occasionally, chaos should be embraced because as when you collide two protons chaos reigns, and interesting things come out which we know now to be quarks but didn't originally, if you collide great minds at high velocity in an unconference environment, similar outcomes tend to happen. Initially unrecognisable and unquantifiable, but eventually completely valuable.
So what am I expecting? Exactly that. Quarks. Sparks. And lots and lots and lots of wrangling and wrestling with difficult concepts, challenging truths and hard to swallow realities. Because that's what the world contains at the moment for both central and local government and where better to come up with solutions and reactions to that, than in the chaos created by an unconference.
The attendee list reads like a who's who of....well actually I don't know. But I can't wait to sit and listen and soak up the ideas generated. I'm not expecting epiphanies (though, actually I am because that always happens) but I am expecting it to be challenging. 200 people, almost all of whom I 'know' or are aware of through Twitter has the potential to be intensely tiring and disorientating for me. But I'll do it anyway, because without challenging yourself you just don't get any better at the things you're bad at.
So far, public sector agile (general), public sector agile (IT), cloud computing, data,gov.uk, use of opendata, apps demonstrations are all firing my neurons. Interestingly, what has also come out of the event so far, before it's even happened, is the opportunity to meet face to face with other schemers (see previous post) and a great liking and respect for the Learning Pool team. They've been on my radar for a year. It's going to be really nice to find out if they are all as sparky, slightly geeky and inspiring as I think they might be.
So, I'm no packing my worries. I'm packing my netbook, iPhone, Kindle and headphones and heading off down to #thatlondon. And do you know, it really does feel like a little bit of a mini adventure.