A friend or two has asked me for advice on session ideas for THATCamp, and since I’m running a workshop at THATCampLAC I figured I’d post my response in lieu of an actual session proposal:
My advice is to take a look at the camper page and drill into the camper profiles. It’s a really diverse group of people, from all levels of degrees, all kinds of fields, institutions, and backgrounds. If you look at enough profiles, you’ll probably discover one or two people who you’d like to have a conversation with. Propose that conversation idea — even if there are only two people in the list you think it’d appeal to, I think more will come out of the woodwork once the session idea is up. And if they don’t, that’s fine — some proposals don’t “make”, and many of them are merged with other proposals into the same session.
There will be about twenty different sessions at this THATCamp. Most of those sessions will be fairly free-ranging conversations in which the session proposer just kind of acts as a moderator/facilitator. (At the last THATCamp I went to, in one session people passed a whiteboard eraser around to talk, just like the conch shell in _Lord of the Flies_). So you don’t have to stand up and talk for 75 minutes (with the exception of workshops, but those are already set). It’s okay to propose a panel on a subject you’d like to learn but don’t know much about — so long as there are some experts around, quizzing them can be a very effective session, and you may be able to figure out people’s expertise based on their bios.