Open Space

Open Space / Unconference

Following a successful session at IWCS 2013, we plan to set most of Thursday afternoon aside for an Open Space workshop (aka "unconference"). The goal of this event is to allow participants to discuss any topic in computational semantics they are passionate about, in small groups of people who care about the same topic. Open Space events are self-organized: topics are proposed by participants, sessions are run by participants, and all the conference organizers do is facilitate the process.

The Open Space event will be structured as follows:

  • On Thursday at 15:30, we'll meet in the David Sizer Lecture Theatre (ground floor, behind the registration desk). After a brief introduction to the Open Space format, anyone can get up and propose a topic for a session that they would like to happen that afternoon. This topic can be anything you like; it could be as specific as your favorite theory of scope ambiguity, as general as how to reconcile logic-based and distributional semantics, or even something that usually has no place at conferences (computational semantics education? ideas for shared tasks?). The only requirement is that you would enjoy talking about this topic.
  • People will then show their preference for particular topics by
  • Sessions will be organized into time slots; depending on the number and interdependency of topics, probably 3 slots starting at 16:00, 16:40 and 17:20. During each time slot, everyone who is interested in a topic is welcome to join the session. The crucial rule we will follow is the "Law of Two Feet": If you find that you are not learning anything and not contributing anything, you are encouraged to get up and leave the room. In this particular context, this is not a sign of impoliteness; it is a way of maximizing the time you're spending in a place that you enjoy, and of ensuring that everyone who remains in the session can be certain that everyone who is there is having a good time.
  • Throughout the afternoon, we will keep a coffee break area open. If there is no session going on that you find interesting, you are welcome to hang out in the coffee corner. If you left your session, you can go there to refresh yourself, and perhaps join some other session. The key goal is that you enjoy yourself and feel that you're participating in discussions that you care about. Whether these happen in your original session, or some other session that you join, or just while you're hanging out having coffee -- that's all good.
  • The final sessions will need to finish promptly at 18:00 -- we'll need to set off for central London to catch the boat for dinner.
  • We have set up a Wiki for use during the conference - you need a Github account to edit it, so just sign up for one if you don't already have one. You are welcome and encouraged to take a few minutes at the end of your session to summarize it in a Wiki article. If you feel uncomfortable sharing your discussion, you are of course not required to do this. After the conference, we will take the Wiki offline and distribute a reader with all articles to all participants.

You can find more information on Open Space in general in its Wikipedia page and in the Open Space user's guide. A brief video introduction is here.