Well it’s a week after and I’m mulling over the experience of my first BarCamp. After dConstruct I was still in a developer mindset, even clouded with beers from the after-party, so I was ready for more. I had the feeling that it was going to be more geeky and again I’d no nobody. As it turns out, it’s is geeky but in a really good way.The premise, for those that either haven’t heard of or have never been to a BarCamp before is that it’s free to attend but every attendee is also a contributor, whether that’s doing a talk yourself or mucking in with something else. Everyone was really welcoming and at this one around half were first timers, so I felt at ease right away.
The gist of the days is that first thing, everyone registers then there’s a whip around the room for a quick introduction before making a card up for your talk and finding a timeslot in one of the rooms; at this camp, there were 7 rooms! I wanted to get it out of the way and found a slot around 2pm on the first day and only near the time noticed I’d put myself up against sessions from The Guardian and the BBC! This was also the great thing about this one: after dConstruct there were still a lot of people around from these companies and so at somethign as informal as a BarCamp there was a great chance to hear about what these people/companies are up to.
First talk I caught was from the MySpace developer network. While the videos said nothing, the fact they’re trying to be really grassroots with promoting their platform is a good call, especially as you tend to get wind of this stuff from evangelising in the States. I caught The Guardian’s 2nd talk about innovation and some of the things they’re doing internally to push things forward and encourage new ideas from all departments within the organisation. It was really intersting stuff!The fire alarm sounded, we all stood outside. Then it was my turn.
I borrowed a laptop and an adapterand awkwardly ran through my loose talk around The Evolution of Social Networks, which effectively breezed by how the web moved from disparate accounts into forming some semblence of an identity and looking at the model many sites use for social networks/graphs, implying that perhaps a model based around personas (such as family, friends, work, etc) may be a way forwards. I was nervous as hell for the first half but then got into it and found a decent debate at the end, which is what I was after. It was fantastic to have some discussion about this stuff with likeminded people. Talk done!
I was lucky enough to meet a lot of people, hear a lot of talks on all kinds of subjects and witness people playing Werewolf till the early hours. Fortunately for me, I was offered a sofa for the night, which seemed a more inviting prospect over trying to find a patch at the BarCamp for my sleeping bag! The second day was brief for me, after getting in late and leaving early but again caught more talks and met more people. Jeremy Keith was there as was Joshua Porter (one of the speakers from dConstruct), Cennydd Bowles (another Clear:Left guy), Tantek and many others. The sponsors did a great job of feeding us and providing coffee and fruit, and plying us with booze ;) If other BarCamps are half as a good as this one, put me down for any I can get to.