Digital Literature for Social Good Unconference

17-18 January 2023 – 100% Virtual

UPDATE: See the list of events and activities here!

For the first time, we are hosting a fully online 2-day “unconference” symposium, hosted by Bournemouth University (UK) in partnership with the Electronic Literature Organization and the British Library. The Unconference will culminate in the awards evening for the New Media Writing Prize on 18 January 2023.

Unconference Theme: Social Good

How can we change our world with our digital art and literature?

We're looking for events, works, and activities that aim to serve a social purpose (such as projects aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals): “Digital Literature for Social Good”. Activist projects, works for education and sustainability, events to brainstorm new digital lit approaches to improving society and culture—it's all fair game. How can we change our world with our art and literature?

How It'll Work

The Unconference will focus not on standard conference presentations, but on an “unconferencing” approach in which all attendees/participants discuss and agree on the agenda (via Discord) leading up to the event.

The Unconference will have two types of participants:

  • Named Participants who will contribute work, workshops, activities, events, or other elements to the Unconference. Named participants will be selected from submissions (more below), and will be named in the Unconference documentation. Think of Named Participants as the equivalent of "presenting a paper" at a conference.
  • Attending Participants who will take part in the activities and events. There is no need to submit a proposal to be an Attending Participant. Think of Attending Participants as conference-goers who attend talks and panels, but do not give their own.

We are seeking proposal submissions from people who are interested in being Named Participants: leading sessions, events, and/or activities at the unconference. These elements might include (but are not limited to):

  • Sharing works and projects in this area
  • Panel discussions of good practice and research-informed approaches
  • Creative panels and workshops generating new works and new approaches
  • Hack-a-thons to code activism bots for social media
  • Create-a-thon sessions for dedicated creation of works
  • Virtual galleries of digital literature for good
  • Virtual activist events

We acknowledge that some Named Participants may need to “present a paper” to have the support (for fees and time) of their employing institutions. The Unconference will include sessions for titled paper presentations as needed, but in creative formats such as pecha kuchas (short presentations with timed slides); presentations as the basis for workshops; lightning talks; and other formats as suggested and agreed upon by the Named Participants.

Named Participants will determine the documentation for the symposium by submitting their academic requirements for publication and by voting. We anticipate a website with a virtual gallery of works for social good. Where possible and permissible, sessions will be recorded, and the recordings made available; this applies to elements like panel or roundtable discussions of good practice and presentations of works. Recordings will follow all privacy and accessibility best management practices.

The Unconference elements are intended to be workshops, roundtables, hack-a-thons, activist events, and other participatory sessions.

Attending Participants will not be merely attendees! The Unconference elements are intended to be workshops, roundtables, hack-a-thons, activist events, and other participatory sessions. We aim to have Attending Participants create works and contribute to discussions; you just won't have the responsibility of designing/hosting/managing elements. This is a great option for students new to digital literature, or folks who just want to play!

As this is not the main ELO conference, participants will not be limited in the amount of activities they can participate or present in. Our aim is to have all attendees participate in every session. If a particular session is larger in attendance than anticipated, we will use breakout rooms to run activities in smaller groups in parallel.

How to Propose an Unconference Element

Proposals are now closed—but you can still register to attend!

You tell us what you want to do. Not sure what you want to do? Send us what you're passionate about, and some options we can throw out to the Discord group to discuss. Your proposal doesn't have to be perfectly formed and outlined—in fact, for the Unconference to work, it needs to remain flexible and open to others' contributions and ideas.

Tell us what would inspire you to contribute and participate in this Unconference. What have you been yearning to do in a combined artistic-academic atmosphere that traditional structures prevent?

To propose an Unconference Element, go to our Proposal Form. You will need to provide:

  • Your name
  • Email
  • Requirements (if any) for institutional support
  • Description of your proposed element (2500 characters max). Please be sure to include any technical requirements to host and/or participate in your proposed element.
  • Accessibility requirements/requests


We are aiming to keep costs low, since the event is fully digital and supported by institutions with relevant structures (e.g., Zoom). Fees are intended to contribute to maintenance of the NMWP website, hosting video archives of the event, creating a web gallery of works, as well as accessibility technology expenses (primarily live captioning and extended functionalities on Zoom). As an ELO-sponsored event, membership fees will also be required for participants and attendees (good for the entire year!)

  • ELO membership fee at approved membership levels (all participants): US$50 for faculty; US$25 for students/artists/precarious


  • Named Participant (named and listed in program): US$90 for salaried academics and professionals; US$60 for students/precariously employed professionals; OR
  • Attending Participant: US$30

Any fees collected in excess of Unconference costs will contribute to the prizes for the New Media Writing Prize. Our goal is to make the Unconference a yearly event, and to enable it to sponsor a new prize category in the competition: Digital Lit for Social Good.

Unconference Noncommittee

The following folks came up with these shenanigans, and will be at least partially responsible for the chaos that ensues:

  • Symposium/Academic Chair: R. Lyle Skains
  • Artistic Chair and Accessibility Coordinator: Deena Larsen
  • Tech Chair: Ken Alba

The Unconference Noncommittee are committed to the ELO Code of Conduct, and will conduct all activities in alignment with these values.