Obviously in the middle of a pandemic, it would be a awful idea to bring together a bunch of people from different households to spend 2 days and a night together. Lucky as we all are, we have the internet.
The bright sparks running BarCampManchester decided it could work online and they made it happen with some custom coding for the session wall and a clever setup of Discord.
I haven’t been a fan of discord but was surprised once I downloaded the Flatpak version for Linux, how effective it was. Before long I was barcamp as usual. Except I had some things I needed to do in the morning. I left a note saying save me a spot on the session wall, knowing how they fill up in the afternoon. Chris pointed out, its all virtual, it would be trivial to create another space/room. Of course I mistakenly was thinking with my physical brain, welcome to the virtual. It was like Eames in inception to Arthur
You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.
Once back I threw myself in with a number of other people not just from Manchester but around the UK. Why limit yourself to just Manchester right? Old friends showed up and we had a good old natter. The sessions were good and even ran a couple myself (one about adaptive podcasting and the other about my gratitude habit).
Of course at the end after the end talk, some diabolo time, some food and a catch up with my family. There was still enough people to play werewolf on werewolv.es with discord.
I got to say it was all good, ok its not going to beat a physical in person barcamp but once I got use to discord it worked quite well. I enjoyed it and as potentially we are looking at another 12-18 months of this pandemic, this could potentially be a good community way to run barcamp.
There was talk about a BarCampManchester11 during winter and if there was, I certainly would get a ticket and make sure theres nothing clashing. Its tricky for sponsorship but I was thinking maybe if people paid between £2-10 maybe that could really help if you were able to get upwards of 50-100 people? This could be done with Eventbrite too, making things less friction.
Could you run a conference this way? Potentially but it would depend on what kind of conference. Good luck getting the public to install discord I would think.