Conference 1.0 vs Conference 2.0?

Saturdays Schedule

During the Future of Webapps, quite a few people said to me how weird it was being at a conference where you had to sit and listen. They prefered the idea of BarCamp, where you could move around and directly effect a presentation with a question or idea. So in short they were comparing conferences with unconferences. One of the people, Raj Anand who came up to me promised to blog it and suggested they send me a link. Well Raj did – BarCampLondon2 V/S FowaLondon07?

I want to point out some of the things which were missed in the verses comparison.

  1. The likes of Kevin Rose, Michael Arrington, etc. Are not going to fly half the way around the world for a BarCamp. This is good or bad depending on what your after.
  2. BarCamp's are run by the community, if things don't quite work out. The community is much more forgiving. While a conference where people are paying, the audience are much less forgiving.

  3. Putting on a conference is very expensive and requires a lot of time and effort. Setting up a BarCamp requires a lot of time but its possible for a gorup or small community to club together to make it happen.
  4. Networking at BarCamp is easier because of the overnight plus the people who tend to go are very motovated. The same is not true of conferences because you have so many people and the barrier for entry is down to money.
  5. A lot of people can not afford (timewise) to take a weekend off for BarCamp. While conferences can be justified during the working week. Also very few companies will send there employees to a BarCamp.
  6. The comparison on links is a little unfair because BarCamps are all over the world, however the Flickr and slideshare comparisons are interesting.
  7. I know BarCampLondon2 made it into the Technorati Top 10 tags, Flickr's top tags and a few other places. But I'm sure FOWAlondon2007 did too.
  8. Do not under estimate the amount of work required on your behalf, to go to BarCamp. Participtation is needed at a lot of levels, while at a conference you can pretty much turn and just listen all day.
  9. BarCamps are not great about following up, so theres no official recordings or all the presentations in one place. This can be arranged but not certain like a conference.
  10. Believe it or not, the two can co-exist. FOWA and BarCampLondon2 were very close together and with events like Geekdinner. Its possible to make a great week for a city like London. I mean, where else would you have rather have been last week?

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Author: Ianforrester

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