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BarCampSheffield logo

Now I’m armed with my MacBook, I’m having a go at logging during the weekend so I can try and capture more of the thoughts that go off from various sessions.  Might be interesting for me to look back over and see a difference in writing style too.

2pm Saturday

So after a cold, frosty, foggy morning getting the train over from Stockport, there was a pretty warm welcome for people registering and straightaway you get a sense that it’s pretty well organised.  By the time I go there the chart was fairly full already for the sessions over the weekend and a really varied lot – possibly more out-and-out techie than the two BarCamp style events I’ve been to before.

First off I caught Caz’s talk about Geocaching.  I had a fair idea what was involved in it but it’s always good to feed off someone’s enthusiasm; something you get a lot of at BarCamps.  It might be a little geeky to wonder around with a GPS unit of some kind trying to find caches but it can a real team thing and actually quite social.  You can see how people can really get into it and interact in a practical way too, setting caches of their own and exchanging stories, etc.

Alastair held an open discussion, in part attempting to find a definition everyone could agree on for what community actually is or what it means.  Going round the table there were some interesting ideas and arguments, most of which accepting that many of our interpretations may be based on the bastardisation of the word community.  It’s interesting stuff considering my talk I’ll be trying again tomorrow (trying to improve from SocialMediaCamp).  Are communities implied?  Do you have to actually decide to become a part of a community?  More musing to be done on this, I think…

10pm Saturday

Hmm…my ‘live blogging’ slipped through lack of power outlets or maybe absorbed in conversation then darting out early for the train?

The afternoon was really pretty good.  Got talking to a few people, notably Neil Crosby (a Yahoo! fella) and Pippa Buchanan and it was Pippa’s talk around Friendship & Jedi Mind-tricks, which kind of took over the afternoon.  There was good reason – the Jedi bit was to pull a crowd and I think a few left after realising it was a ruse but that left a core that really got a lot out of the discussion about friendship in the Internet age; whether it’s something quantifiable in the real world as more formal relationships or whether the online world has had an impact.  We all ended up gassing in though provoking ways for a good 2 hours so I missed a session or two I had my eye on, but it’s this I love about BarCamps; a lot of intelligent people from different backgrounds enthusiastic and yet they listen.  Discussions are the best part and with there being so many elements related to social psychology, anthropology, social networks, etc it was right up my street.  I never tire of hearing other people talk about their experiences and perceptions around human interactions, especially in such a forum.

The downside is that I had to leave early so I donated my beer tokens and caught most of Paul Stanton’s ‘Self Defense for Geeks’.  You can’t always tell if the title is literal for BarCamp sessions, but this one was and shows the diversity of what you can get; actual basics of how to respond to confrontations without any practical demos, even though Stanton is a black belt karate type.

More tomorrow…

4pm Sunday

Tedious journey in ment that I missed the first couple of sessions but ended up catching Emma Persky’s around women on the Internet.  Loads of interesting sub-issues and discussions over how to gauge amount of usage by women of services on the web with as many questions raised as were answered.  A real strength of BarCamps is the range of discussions and debates.

Tim Nash showed us all the evils of SEO techniques and busted open a few myths, which was unexpectedly interesting.  I heard a little idea about some of the ways that search engines found their results but seeing a few diagrams and learning about some more nefarious techniques opens your mind a little.

I caught Jon’s talk around 10 ways to f**k up your website, which was actually really true and simple thing that can be forgotten about a web project, from DNS settings, getting content from clients, etc.  Always worth being reminded about this stuff and not be too complacent that maybe you already know it all.  I have admit the one about colour profiles is one I hadn’t heard before.

So as the day peters out, it’s more of a hang out and I’m quite in the mood for a pint so time to work on a new presentation for BarCampLiverpool next week?

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29th November, 2008