A big part of what’s amazing is the event organizing and facilitation methodology used by Katrin and Gunner of Aspiration, who organized the conference. Their approach is to bring a whole bunch of interesting people together and let them drive and structure discussions. No talking head panels here: session topics have emerged out of the interests and needs of the people in the room, and each discussion has been a mix of brainstorming, case sharing, strategy sharing, putting questions out for feedback, and coming up with really concrete ideas for projects and next steps.
The wiki helps set things on fire becuase it creates a concrete collective output from each discussion. While a room full of geeks are particularly well-positioned to make good use of the wiki dimension (if only because everyone here has a laptop), the wiki is easy enough to use for non-geek events. And while the wiki is great and useful I don’t think it’s essential to the chemistry of the event (though I’d be curious to hear what Gunner and Katrin think).
Anyone who is involved in planning or organizing a conference or event would learn a lot from participating in an Aspiration event. And if you organize events for people in the tech or nonprofit worlds, it’s a must: make sure to put one of Aspiration’s upcoming events on your calendar.