In conversations I’ve had with association people (mostly in blogs so far) there seems to be agreement that doing a full-blown unconference is a tough sell to conference organizers.
In thinking about that, I wonder if an untrack would be a good first step (this idea first came up when I was discussing unconferences with Ben Martin). An untrack would essentially be an add-on to an existing conference. The organizers would set aside at least two rooms that have defined time slots and a theme but no set agenda other than that. The conference would kick-off by having people collaboratively develop session topics and leading them as described by Dave Winer yesterday.
The main benefit to an untrack is that I could see an association, typically very risk averse orgs, going for that as an experiment within an existing conference more readily than creating a brand new meeting as an unconference. Just because it is easier to sell doesn’t mean it is the best thing to do, however.
Could this work? I really don’t know if having the unstructured next to the structured would benefit either or degrade them both, or let one win over the other. Someone will have to try it and see.