If the Mad Hatter has taught me anything, it’s that unthings can be just as much fun as real things. The same applies toSpaceUp’s unconferences, which function exactly the same as a regular conference except they have no topic and are completely open to the public.

However, just because these topics are unstructured doesn’t mean that they are not fun, interesting, or professional.

Rules of an unconference

The participants of the unconferences talk about topics in detail but have no set topic that they are forced to cover. For Spaceup’s conference, the conversation can ebb and flow between any topic as long as it is somewhat relative to space.

The participants either have a core topic, or they can create an agenda for topics on the fly with each topic getting one hour of discussion time for example. Unconferences get rid of formal speakers and instead embolden connections between the people speaking.

Unconferences are all about people who are knowledgeable about a topic coming together in an informal setting to simply discuss their passion for the benefit of a wider advance, and with less of a rigid schedule to confine them the discussion can flow naturally.

Types of unconferences

The fun of a true unfettered discussion with deep conversations that can go anywhere has been adopted by a number of groups and has given birth to a number of styles of presentation. Some are fast paced, with several speakers giving 5-minute presentations in a ‘data blitz’ while others are slow paced, allowing for conversations between groups.

Large groups often use the latter version, if they participate at all, as some unconferences have an audience watch and take notes as the conversation flies thick and fast. If the groups do participate they are often split into tables or subgroups with members changing between the tables at intervals to add to the conversation.


Spaceup’s unconferences are all over the world, with some being held in Houston and others reaching as far away as Europe. They are completely run by participants, with many not knowing about the schedule or topics until someone suggests one.

The embrace of all ideas as well as the power of letting the people run the event makes Spaceup not only popular but also motivational to the participants. It shows them that their ideas matter, and that big events and changing talks can often be born out of something as silly as a conversation in the back room before going onto the world stage.

If you are a space-loving person who wants to discuss your ideas with other like-minded people and potentially have your idea turn into a topic of discussion and debate, a conference is near you and the locations change from year to year.

This ensures that no one is left out of the talk about space and the future of the stars remains accessible to everyone who wants to have a say. Who knows, your idea could have far-reaching consequences!