BarCamp meets the Merseyside, BarCampLiverpool

BarCampLiverpool

So on the way back from Liverpool on the train. BarCampLiverpool was a blast, I believe a good time was had by all. The turn out wasn't quite the BarCamp busting 200, but it didn't matter, the 100 people that did turn up on Saturday really enjoyed themselves and made the whole event go without a problem. Thanks to Katie Lips and the rest of the crew for finding a nice venue and setting up the first Liverpool BarCamp. It was also covered in the local media, which makes a really nice change, although it would have been good if they had come down and did interviews with the BarCampers themselves.

The sessions were interesting and varied, just like the people. I think there was about 35/65 split for new barcamp virgins vs seasoned barcampers. Everything from how to put OpenID in your WordPress to Sex (yes more about that later). Its certainly a trend which many of spotted recently, talks are suprisingly engaging and are gaining bigger audiences that presentations.

BarCampLiverpool was a two day event but with no sleepover element. Its a shame because I think the huge drop of numbers (100 down to about 40) on Sunday might not have been so deep if people didn't have to go home. Katie and team did offer barcampers a party at a great little private bar only 2mins walk around the corner instead which did go on till 2am. The drinks all night were sponsored by Microsoft and we actually didn't end up drinking it all because it was meant to be 200 people not 100+. Thanks Microsoft and Steve Clayton for supporting the grassroots. Of course BBC Backstage was also a sponsor of the events food and the food was well recieved through-out the whole event. Actually the balance of sponsorship through out the event was about right, in the past I've seen BarCamps where they have been too sponsorship driven and not enough. A couple of signs here and there and it would have been perfect. This is certainly something other BarCamp's should pay attention of.

I spent time at many sessions but the ones which stick out in my mind are Phil's how to present better which got a lot of people talking about presentation fu. The Hodge's SEO talk, where we finally got down to the core of the seo which is just plain old good customer service. There were plenty more, but I can't remember them at this present moment due to the lack of sleep.

BarCamp is famous for the small talks you have in between other sessions and a short talk I had with Jon the health care professional about the effects of Vodka, Redbull and Tabsco hot sauce on the body and mind, was insightful. It came after the night of drinking when I turned up at BarCamp on Sunday a complete hour early because I thought we kick off again at 10am. I was cursing the extra hour I could have had, but after a quick blast on the pacemaker with the loud speakers and the chat with Jon Spriggs and the other Jon, I think it was worth the rush to get there for 10am.

At 11am on Sunday I chaired a talk about Sex. The session was attended by about 20+ people and as someone else called it the best session they have ever been to at any BarCamp. It started off with me talking about the fact we never talk about the sleezey side of the internet and life. Not only that but two films YPF and my complete history of sexual failures had got me thinking more about that Wired article about Geeks making better lovers. The parts of interest include.

Geeks don't shock easily

Geeks have seen all the porn you can imagine and then some, priming them to be open to your sexual peccadilloes. They are not only less likely to be shocked by your exotic requests — they might not even realize that other people think your turn-ons are exotic.

Conversely, your geek lover might be relieved that your wildest fantasy involves only two other people, five utensils and a trapeze.

Geeks know kinky people

Geeks haven't just seen a variety of positions, kinks and fetishes in blue movies. They know (or are) people who enjoy those things, so they don't dismiss entire categories of sexual interests as the sole province of a bunch of weirdos in San Francisco.

It's hard to sustain prejudice and bias against an abstract group when you develop relationships with individuals and discover they're just like you. It doesn't matter if they dress up like ponies, or refuse to conform to a societal idea of gender norms, or eat pancakes for dinner. Geek lovers know better than to try to impose their sexual preferences or standards on others — including your friends — and are more likely to love and let love.

Geeks aren't threatened by new tech or “the future of sex”

Geeks have read the science fiction. They know the dire predictions of a world in which the sticky press of flesh is replaced by neural nets and sex robots that also do housework (or is that house robots that also do sex work?).

Geeks have imagined more sexual dystopias than the average person and are the first to see the technological developments that could lead us down dark paths. Which only makes sense, considering who develops those technologies in the first place.

At the same time, geeks know better than anyone that something always goes wrong when you lean on machines for your social fulfillment. A geek doesn't mind if you bring home the iiErotoTrix 5000 v3 — as long as you share it.

Literacy and the printing press did not replace sex; neither did photography, automobiles, video, online porn or 3-D escort services. Geek lovers spend enough time with technology to appreciate the unique wondrousness of human touch.

The adult discussion on the subject turned out totally differently that I'd expected. There was lots of jokes and nervious humour from people around the circle but they helped loosen peoples toungue. Obviously I'm not going to share exact details of what was said but it started at Bedposted and Facebook statuses and ended up somewhere much deeper and darker that I can really talk about on a public blog. It was something else

The only negative thing I have to say, is druing the party after the pitching event. I was pitched at with some  force and to be honest this really got my back up and bugged me. BarCamp works becuase of the spirit of openness of the whole thing but we must remind people to take that on-board when joining or taking part. This isn't simple a place to pitch your wares, yourself or some new product your working on. If you do, people will leave your session and you won't get anything positive out of BarCamp.

Great BarCamp, glad I went. Whens the next one Katie?

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Author: Ianforrester

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