BarCampLondon – overview from others

So moving forward from my last post which I didn't quite finish. I've been keeping a close eye on what people have been saying in blog posts and I've seen hardly any negativity to the event.

Aral Balkan has a nice review of all the presentations he attended. He ends with

BarCampLondon was a blast! Over the course of a weekend, I got to meet some amazing people, catch up with friends, learn some great stuff (including a new game called Werewolf) and get inspired.

No thank you Aral, I'm still not a fan of Flash, but I agree my view point of Flash exist in the Flash 4 and 5 era. I look forward to seeing if Adobe will take the biggest step and open source the Flash Player. I still think its not going to happen but we shall see.

During my time at BarCampLondon and the geekdinner the night before, I rubbed sholders with quite a few people but Nicole Simon sticks in my mind. She blogged and read a lot too. Her last post on BarCampLondon has a list of things which shes picked up on.

Looking over the reports of the last days of Barcamp, I notice some things popping up more than usual

  • the usual topic of lack of women on such events
  • the amount of user interface designers and flashers
  • I am not a werewolf or I want to jot down a list of things to actually read out at the beginning of such events to have a consistent knowledge of the rules
  • and last but not least: marketers are not evil and programmers are not gods

Good points but it doesn't stop there.

Developper focus is something which was – for my taste – a bit too much. For example driven by Ben Metcalfe who “disturbed” the talking crowd to force them to do mash pits – when most of the people just where waiting to play Werewolf. /images/emoticons/wink.gif

It may be a good idea to call it DevBarcamp if you really want this to be programmer centric but if you don't say so, people will show up for more than just the programmer centric topics.

In this regard I would like to ask if those flash people actually counted for programming or not? *gd&r*

To be fair, it was on the schedule and yes we did kind of force mashup-pit on everyone but we felt if we didn't people might just hang around and get boarded till the dinner came. Then we might have people asking why we were not doing something about it. I think the point I'm getting at, is that we were not trying to force mashpit upon people, just suggesting things people could do. Werewolf was on the list too.
Nicole moves on the lack of women.

Again, of course, there were only few women although I found there where quite a lot. Until I started counting from memory – naa, not that many. We had a longer discussion about this and especially Ian was very keen how to make this work for women.

Without falling for the “let's get women in here just for the sake of it”. To which I agree totally. We can start passing on those messages to our networks and it may even be a cool idea to add to such a Barcamp description a bit more information for example about the camping part. (This Barcamp started out with having a boys / girls room but ended up with having a snorrer / non snorring separation.)

But in general I think we someday have to draw the line. I refuse to run after women all the time just to get them to such meetings if they dont also at least voice their opinions on why they did not come or where not feeling like coming. You cant complain about the cake but eat it too.

Yep I decided it was best to have the snorrers like myself in the main room away from everyone else. Nicole is right, I'm very keen to have more women involved in BarCampLondon, and maybe next time I will work a lot harder on making the event a lot more accessable to women, but not at the expense of others. BarCamp requires a certain amount of get up and go, a certain amount of passion. I know there are a lot of women with this passion but might have been put off by the over geekness of the event in past? And I think thats the point which Nicole quotes from Sarah Blow. Women don't want to be treated as special cases, just show them what there missing. Which is why flickr pictures really help in this case.

James Aylett covers a quite a few sessions including the missing presentation which I recorded but gave up to Paul Hammond.

Paul Hammond's half-presentation, half-discussion called Foo, Bar, Baz, on where future London unconferences and similar events might go, based in part on the strengths of FOOcamp that BarCamp might not be able to mimic easily. I didn't come away with a clear idea of what the future might hold, but I'm convinced that the UK has more than enough smart people to be exciting, even if most of us aren't going to make millions out of start-ups; we'll leave that to Silicon Valley. (And hey, their million is smaller than ours, so we'd have to try harder.)

Well put and I'm looking forward to putting that footage up online so others like Sarah Blow can get an insight into what was said and talked about in that 30mins. James also goes into depth on Sofia Kallin's (Ben Metcalfe's wife) rant about the differences between geek culture and mentality. This is a session I recorded and put up on Blip.tv, but I can't seem to find it right now.

Then Sofia Kallin challenged a bunch of people to persuade her that social networking software is a good thing.

The main thought that I came away from this session with was that there's a huge (and probably growing gap) between the top technologists, who are inventing and building all the sites which (to us) seem really cool; and the people who make up 99% of the world, and really don't care that we've used microformats, or that we have a table-free design, and who just want it to work.

There's a element of truth to this but catering to the masses is not always the best idea if you want to think outside the box. I won't go into the alpha geeks, cool merchants, early adopters stuff but there's got to be somewhere for the niche markets.

Other good blogs worth mentioning include the ones here and…

Like I've said many times now, thanks to everyone who helped out in little and big ways. Good luck to my partner in crime Ben Metcalfe whos now state side. Thanks to Murray, whos a true party animal, has world domination plans and a awesome team to back him up. And finally Sarah (my wife) for backing me up and letting me go off for a whole weekend to camp out with my peers and friends. Not many wives would give up there husband for a weekend.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.