Business Week covers unconferences and has one of the best descriptions I’ve seen:
Unlike traditional, $1,000-a-head and up conferences, they’re totally unstructured—the agenda isn’t determined until the opening day of the event. Everyone who shows up is a potential speaker, and those who don’t speak contribute by posting photos, blog entries, podcasts, and video clips of the proceedings. Neckties and heels are noticeably absent. And attendance is almost always inexpensive or free. (emphasis mine)
I’ve said it before, our focus for the ones in Montréal is too much on presenting, participation is the important part, and of course opening up for all kinds of participation.
(not complaining, I’ll just get involved to push that)
I think this part is also very important:
Messina invited anyone present to sign up to speak at the gathering by sticking a Post-it note on one of two big chalkboards he had commandeered. All would-be speakers needed to do was come up with a title and find an open time slot.
First come first served, multiple tracks and fixed time slots.