Stand up for diversity by mimax The Web2Open wiki is finally up...but is still a 'work in progress'. We'll be working on the design over the next few days (gotta put Chris on the CSS) and I'm hoping that this post will drive a few of you over there to fill in some blanks.

So, to recap, the Web 2.Open will consist of three major elements:

The reason that I'm pushing on this at the moment is because I want to highlight that, in light of the myriad of conversations about diversity that are recurring, we are actually trying a little experiment for the Web2Open...

We are combining that idea of meritocracy with a little curation (translation: working our rsses off to seek out new voices...send suggestions my way and enter them on the wiki). We are setting aside two of the six rooms for pre-selected speakers that will be selected on the following criteria:

  1. Research & data in the areas of social networking, virtual communities, open source development, etc.
  2. Offline businesses affected by Web 2.0
  3. Explorations of the Web Arts
  4. Bleeding edge technology
  5. Perspectives and experiences from different countries, cultures and non-early adopter markets
  6. Personal stories
  7. Non-profit stories, businesses and technology
  8. Epiphanies
  9. Stuff we have never heard of
  10. Stuff we have heard of but from an angle we haven't thought of
  11. Stuff we have heard of but at new levels of transparency and revelation
  12. Announcements (like open sourcing your code, etc.)
  13. People we haven't heard talk before
  14. People we've heard talk before, but about stuff we wouldn't expect you to talk about

And, because that, in itself, won't ensure that there will be super interesting, diverse, thought-provoking topics, we are also reaching out as well as taking suggestions from anyone who wants to give them to us. I think what we want to do with this particular section of the Web2Open is two-fold:

  1. Prove once and for all that diversity in topics and speakers is a really awesome thing and makes for a kickass conference; and
  2. Set the stage for the 3 Open Grid rooms as well as the Mashroom to follow suit.

Now, we don't have a budget to fly people in or pay for hotels, but we have an awesome opportunity here, thanks to the fabulous folks at O'Reilly and CMP, to curate an amazing conference that will be attended by people who we can't usually entice to BarCamps, getting some awesome exposure for the speakers and topics. I will also be pinging amazing people like the fabulous Meri Williams and we have already asked people like Deepika Bajaj, who just launched a multicultural women's network, Invincibelle, Nicole Simon, who has a great european view on web 2.0, and James Sime, who uses Web2Tech like Flickr and a blog to serve his awesome comic lover community as well as market his really cool business.

And...if you really, really can't afford to come but you really, really want to and you have done volunteer work with SpreadFirefox or another Mozilla Project, rumor has it that there is a fund for such things as travel to 'unconferences' being created. Anyone know about this? Perhaps others know of similar travel grants?

Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. I know that, as we are preparing to head out to SXSW later this week, Hugh Forrest has been one of those people who have taken special care to curate such an event, and let me tell you, SXSW is probably one of the best conferences around. Being our first year at this, we may not be as kickass, but we may just create a pretty cool event that is well worth attending.

...oh...and did I mention the cost? Nil.