Sunday, May 14, 2017

Unconference -- Telling Untold Histories

"Telling Untold Histories" could there be a better title for a conference for me to attend? This perfectly sums up my business. So why did I hesitate for even a minute about attending?

1) It was in big, scary Newark
2) It was billed as an unconference (what is that?)
3) I don't know anyone going

I did sign up, and I loved it. Newark is an easy train ride from Princeton Junction. Going at rush hour I caught a train that either had one stop (in New Brunswick) or no stops. I can't remember which because I bumped into C, a friend who does not want any social media presence, and chatted with this person for the entire ride. Don and I have been meaning to catch up with C for a while, so the timing was great.

The unconference was an easy walk from the train station. Newark is not scary in the daytime, especially not in this part of town.

An unconference means they create the list of topics the morning of the conference. People had 90 seconds to pitch a topic idea, which they then were signed up to lead. There were two sessions so people could lead one and attend another. My first session was about the ethics of telling stories that people might not want told. For the second session I learned about a new app called Pixstori. It allows you to record video that goes over your picture. I can picture using it to record what someone says about an old photograph. 

I chose this table because of the empty seat,
but felt I had chosen well when I saw this sign on it.

After lunch we went into one of six breakout sessions. Fortunately for me there was a change in the schedule as none of the six sessions appealed to me. The last minute replacement of a session on copyright issues was perfect as it is something I have wondered about. The speaker is a lawyer who gave me some advice about that contract I should be creating.

On the way back to the train station I popped into an exhibit about the Jazz scene in Newark. I even caught the express back to Princeton Junction -- 37 minutes ZERO stops.

And my worries about not meeting people? This was a conference filled with people who all love history. One thing that stood out to me was the wide variety of ages, genders, races, and ethnic backgrounds represented. It felt like a true melting pot. I made some contacts. Met people from all over the state, including Princeton and Lawrenceville, and into New York City. The conference was only $20 to attend, and included breakfast and lunch. I hope to be able to go back again next year.

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