Jonathan Campbell a.k.a.  is doing a good job answering your questions here:

So what is an unconference I hear you ask?

Well, if a conference is a line-up of speakers who stand at a podium with a powerpoint presentation, talk for 55 mins, take questions for 5 mins and then move on to the next speaker, then an un-conference is the complete opposite of that! First of all, there are no speakers, no presentations, no podiums and no being stuck in your seat for an hour being bored by someone who just isn’t entertaining or relevant to you. Instead we have track leaders, people whom we have invited to start a conversation around topics that they feel passionately about with people who share that passion.

Tracks? Are we on a train now?

Glad you asked, tracks here mean topics, themes, which are navigated by a track leader, who sets a direction the discussion goes. Track leaders lead a one hour “track” on a chosen topic (see full topic list and schedule below) which typically involves participants sitting around in a circle with the track leader opening the discussion with a 3-5 minute background on his or her topic and then opening the idea/ topic up for discussion within the group. For the next 55 minutes anyone can contribute, offer an opinion, ask questions, tell a story or even direct the conversation into a brand new topic!

So track leader is like a key-note speaker?

No, the track leader is not in charge, they moderate, facilitate the discussion and keep it alive with ideas and questions. Tracks can go off in any direction and often the best insights are offered by the participants themselves, people who perhaps don’t normally get the spotlight at these events but who have great insights to offer or just really interesting questions to ask.

Wait a minute, how do those tracks you are talking about work?

So if you now have an idea of what a “track” is, we typically have two or three of them running concurrently at any one time so you get to choose which one is of most interest to you and if you decide to move on to another track at any point, you just get up and wander over to another track or maybe grab a coffee off-line with someone you really want to chat with one-on-one. Our participants regularly end up creating their own mini tracks all day long without even knowing it!

But I’m kinda shy and don’t want to be picked on!

You can contribute as much as you want or merely sit back and take it all in, it’s up to you. I personally love just sitting back and taking it all in, jotting down some ideas and making note of really interesting people that I plan to network with later on. Then again, I’ve been to know to jump in and tell a track leader that I completely disagree with their point of view and let all hell break loose! Those are the really fun tracks!

So is it all just a bit chaotic then?

No, not at all. We have new tracks starting on the hour, every hour with breaks for tea, coffee and lunch. Each track leader is allocated their time and the next hour of tracks is announced to all as the previous hour is wrapping up. I have started tracks with just two other people and ended up with thirty people by the end of it, you just never know. All we ask is that everyone is respectful of other people’s opinions and to respect that debate drives innovation and ideas, it’s not an argument!

Will there be opportunities to network with track leader and participants?

Absolutely, that’s the whole idea! You know the bit at other conferences where you chat to people over coffee between speakers and grab a drink with them at the end of the day? That’s what it’s going to be like for two whole days solid! We’ve even got a full bar serving drinks from the afternoon onwards. Heck, for example in Dublin it’s being held in one of the most exclusive private nightclubs in Dublin; the tracks may end at 5pm but the TweetUp (aka excuse for more informal conversation over drinks) goes on until 9pm followed by drinks and food in Temple Bar afterwards.

What can I expect to learn from unconference?

If you’re wondering how to find more candidates, attract talent, build a better careers site, turn online networking into offline business, build your recruiter profile, apply best practice techniques into the recruitment mix, make sense of social recruiting, learn how the big companies and the small companies do it really well or just figure out issues other recruiters are also struggling with, then this is the unconference for you. There were businesses started and software developed at unconferences. That’s how much effect an unconference can have on you!

Ok, I’m almost convinced, I’d love to go, but I can’t afford to take 2 days out of my job:

Trust me, this is better than any training you will ever pay for and you will earn the time back ten fold but you don’t have to spend the whole two days here, come and go as you please, it’s your conference! If it’s a two day unconference, attend at least one of the days!