As part of the planning activities for future IWMW events, the IWMW 2019 Advisory Group has been looking back on the diverse range of sessions which have taken place since the event was launched in 1997. Are there ways of engaging with delegates at IWMW events which might be worth revisiting?

A summary of the different types of sessions held previously is given in the table shown below.

There are a number of types of sessions which we many of us are familiar with:

  • plenary talks (which typically last for 30-45 minutes)
  • workshops (which last for 90 minutes)
  • longer workshops or masterclasses (which last for about 3-3.5 hours)
  • barcamps (brief sessions which last for 20 minutes)

Some session types have been tried out in the past such as briefing sessions, vendor presentations, hack sessions, debates and discussion groups. Earlier this year we introduced a new type of session: lightning talks. Claire Gibbons, the IWMW co-chair, published a post on “The Different Types of IWMW Event Sessions“, describing some of these in more detail.

We will shortly be announcing the call for submissions for the IWMW 2019 event. We hope the summary of sessions held at previous events will inspire potential contributors to make a proposal, perhaps based on some of the ideas given above – or perhaps you might like to surprise the Advisory Group by submitting something new!

Type Summary Frequency
Plenary sessions aimed at all delegates
Plenary Talk to all delegates. There have been ~210 plenary talks in total. Held every year
Plenary (admin) Introductions, conclusions, report backs, etc. Held every year
Split plenaries Plenaries split into two (‘front-end’ aimed at user issues and ‘back end’ covered technical issues) Held in 2009
Debate Motion proposed which delegates voted on Held in 2002 (2 debates) and 2006
Exhibition & poster displays In the early years delegates were encouraged to take part in poster displays. The term ‘Internet Gallery’ was used in 1998 to encourage delegates to provide demonstrations, Held in 1998, 1999 and 2000
Exhibition By 2005 the IWMW event had achieved a level of interest and maturity that we were able to host an exhibition which was provided primarily be the event sponsors. Held in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
Panel Small number of speakers, typically with questions for all panelists Held in 2002, 2005 (two sessions), 2006, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
Competition Demonstrations or descriptions of innovative work with delegate voting Held in 2007 and 2008
Lightning talks Delegates invited to give brief talk of up to 5 minutes Introduced in 2018
Newcomers session Session held before main event started, providing introduction to community for those new to the sector Held in 2004 and 2012
Parallel sessions (delegates can select their preferred choice) 
Workshop Typically lasting for 90 minutes, and often described as ‘participative’ (i.e. delegates are active and not just listening to talks.  There have been ~290 workshop sessions in total. Held every year
Long workshop Typically listing for 3+ hours Held in 1998, 1999, 2000 & 2001
Masterclass Recent name for long workshops Introduced in 2015 & repeated in 2016, 2017 and 2018
Briefing session Unlike workshops, participants normally listen to a long presentation Held in 2002
Vendor presentations Session facilitated by a sponsors of vendor, and may choose to describe their products Plenary in 2002, 2004
Discussion groups Open discussion on a particular topic Held in 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008,
Regional groups Open discussion, with groups based on location Held in 2001, 2005,
BoFs Birds of a Feather session Option offered in 2014
Developers lounge “In response to the IWMW event organisers’ call to set up a range of informal developer lounge activities, myself [Tony Hirst] and Mike Ellis will be sharing a few tricks about rapid tinkering on the web in our Tuesday workshop session and then wherever or whenever else you can pin us down…” Suggested for 2009
“Half hour hacks” Participatory session with content provided by participants. Idea suggested for IWMW 2009
Barcamps Participatory sessions with content provided by participants. Held in 2008, 2009 and 2010