Unconferenz Set for Saturday at Iolani


The Unconferenz is a conference that avoids the worst parts of conferences.

There are no Powerpoint lectures. No “keynote speakers” to dominate the agenda, no “panel discussions” stuffed with hapless representatives from corporate sponsors, and no fixed topics that were set by people who barely want to be there.

But there are always great people to meet, new ideas to explore, causes to embrace and ideals to advance, all in spontaneous, accessible, and interactive sessions where the attendees drive the conversation. Indeed, the program is set that very morning, where any topic has the potential to fill a room with bright, open minds.

There’s also lunch included.

The eighth annual Unconferenz is coming next Saturday, May 16 at Iolani School. While it’s come a long way since the first one held out in Hawaii Kai in 2008, the Unconferenz has always been one of the best events to both witness and help write the next meaningful chapters of Hawaii’s civic and creative future. It’s no exaggeration to say some of the most interesting tech-infused movements of the past several years took root at an Unconferenz.


How would you like to change the world? The best way to find supporters for your cause is at the Unconferenz. Anyone can suggest a session topic, and if it garners enough votes (online in advance or on the morning of the event), it will earn a slot on the program grid and some glorious attention from curious attendees. Though anything can happen in the week ahead, some of the front-running topics for 2015 include:

  • Can we implement an online election system in Hawaii?
  • Getting IT, computer science, or other STEM educators and students involved in civic issues.
  • Public libraries as coworking spaces, maker spaces, or broadband-rich innovation hubs?
  • Creating a more informed, engaged citizenry via data science (with 101-level tutorials).
  • Reboot the Commute: Rethinking transit to make our city smarter.
  • Hack the Museum: Fostering open access at cultural heritage institutions.

Register online today, especially if you want to make sure to get a lunch (chicken or vegetarian bento; a headcount is needed early next week). You’ll get more than $27.37 in value from the day, for sure.


The Unconferenz is the brainchild of my co-geek conspirator (geeky co-conspirator?) Burt Lum, and while I’ve often helped him organize it, it’s his baby and deserving of your support. Especially this year, as I’ll be missing it by a day because of a week-long trip to Washington D.C. for work.

For more information, visit Unconferenz.com (recently redesigned by the ever cool Ryan Kanno!), or email Burt at [email protected].

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