I'm in the European city of the year for the weekend. No thats not a invite to break into my Manchester Pad but a interesting fact I picked up from the local paper (the evening post) today. I can't work out if this is the same award as the European Green City award which Bristol is also in the line-up for. Either way, congrats Bristol, you even beat out my current Home Manchester which does need some work doing on it in some areas. Bristol is a great city, don't get me wrong. Its got everything but I just wish it was bigger and had more tech/internet jobs. Between HP research Labs, University of West England (UWE) and the watershed, you could imagine some very cool things happening but generally it seems quite slow. But hey thats a outsiders point of view looking inwards, I maybe be very wrong.
So I attended Amplified 2008 at Nesta yesterday. It was a interesting event for many reasons, but I had one burning question.
As expected it was like a mini BarCamp but over 4 hours. Yes only 4 hours. This was certainly not your democratic barcamp structure where everyone was expected to talk or our at least given the opportunity to talk. Instead the Nesta offices were split up into 9 areas and there was enough room for 3x 45min talks with tons of time for breaks between. So yes in total there were 27 slots for a room of about 80 (I think). I thought this is so weird that I might not give a talk at all because I'm sure there will be fighting for places. Most people were happy to just check out stuff with there two ears. But after the first session I went to (the future of the book) I got frustrated by one of the organisers who cut the session dead because time was out. The conversation was going toward something interest and for it to die flat like that, we deserved another session. So walked to the board and thought of something which would attract peoples imagination.
I'm a pirate and what are you going to do about it? It was a late entry on the board but we still gathered a crowd of about 12. Before long we were admitting to each about our darknet collections and ways of getting more stuff. We went in that angle and came out thinking about ways the licensing should change for the good of the commons and industry. It was a good idea, had wished I had put it on there earlier and I didn't have to miss all the other sessions which were on at the same time.
The last session was me working with Nicole in her session about a match making agency for entrepreneurs and developers. Nicole with a bit of prompting did write a ton of notes down on her moblog, so I won't go into a ton of detail. Anyway I think its a good idea and most people agree, but as we already know its about the way its done.
After a final wrap session where everyone had to say one word which they we thinking and that was pretty much it. Thanks now bugger off to the pub around the corner. My one word was BarCamp. Why? Because I don't understand lots of these people would come to Amplified but never a BarCamp. Everyone seemed to enjoy the format, although you could tell people were not happy about the general room noise during slots, specially whoevers idea it was to put four talks in the same room with no barriers! sometimes people were shouting over each other to be heard and that's worst that BarCampBerlin3.
There were lots people who I've never seen at a BarCamp before and I wonder why? Is it because there community driven, BarCamp is associated with different circles, the event was arranged by Nesta, they never heard of BarCamp? It weird at a time when BarCamps are blowing up all over the place were not attracting some of these people along too. I'm sure they would totally dig it. I'm not taking anything away from the Nesta Team, they did a great job. I guess I like the idea of us not having to wait for the big names to run such events for us. We the people can self organise and setup things ourselves. Nesta and others can help but don't need to own it.