BarCampManchesterX, are you in?

barcampmanchesterx

(This non-descriptive entrance might just be the entrance to a very special barcamp)

So following my last blog post about BarCamp, I’ve been thinking about BarCampManchester (I also mentioned it at Social Media Cafe Manchester) and how I did say I wasn’t going to get involved in BarCamp for a while. But I’ve found a venue which is excellent and perfect for a barcampmanchester.

The venue is a ex-estate agents and show home on the outskirts of my new flat. It may not look like much but in that small single level venue, theres 5 distinct rooms which can be used as barcamp rooms. 3 bathrooms, 2 kitchens and a large open room which use to be used as the estate agent office. There’s also a private garden which would be perfect for a bbq or after party.

Theres a car park right out front and plenty of room for about 150-200 people. The venue is also only 10mins from Piccadilly Station, just a leisurely walk up Piccadilly Basin (besides the Ashton canal). And its clearly noticeable from any train coming into Piccadilly. The venue use to be a showroom for one of the flats, so there’s a high standard of build across the whole venue. Of course the office isn’t still in use, they moved the estate office to the front of the building and now do tours of the actual building instead of the showroom.

BarCampManchesterX

Ideally the developer ISIS would like someone to find a good use for the venue but so far its just sitting mainly empty. Of course they have other locations they have for commercial use. But this great venue is pretty much set up for a barcamp. There’s just a few things which need sorting before everything is a go…

  • Security for the venue – Its meters from the Ashton canal and you sometimes get drunks and kiddies hanging out around there. So if we had a party, some security would be good.
  • Connectivity for the venue – There use to be a office there, so I expect there is a couple of phone lines or we could look into WiMax again, like BarCampManchester2
  • Overnight insurance – This is tricky at the best of times, but if worst comes to worst we could open till really late (say 4am, then open again at 8am)

So far I have convinced ISIS to give me permission to do the barcamp at the venue from Saturday daytime till Sunday afternoon and if we can sort out the overnight insurance, we have a overnight venue.

If you are interested in being part of the organising committee for this challenging but potentially fantastic barcamp.

Please drop me a message or email. Theres a lot left to do including what date we actually hold the barcamp on. I’m expecting to get everyone together for a meeting soon…

How to run a BarCamp – the wikibook

For a while I’ve been writing a new book (as such). Its titled How to run a barcamp and i’ve contacted a few people I know who have run them in the past to contribute towards it. Unfortunately not many people have actually added ink to the wiki book, so I’m opening the effort to anyone who wants to help contribute.

BarCamp and other derivative events are a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved. Since you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about setting up your own or helping out on one which is going ahead in the near future.

This guide is meant as a introduction to the BarCamp phenomenon and bring together tips, tricks and clever use of social engineering to make the event take place and be the best it could.

Why the need for this wikibook at all? Well BarCamp.org is a great place, but it’s frankly too alive and good information is scatter across the site and burred underneath the next lot of BarCamps. There was also no where to collaboratively come to a decision about the best way to do certain things or what things should be avoided based on the experience of other BarCamps around the world.

The format is punchy one liners of advice opposed to long length discussions (which are best served on the discussion/talk pages).

The whole idea is pretty straight forward, I’ve already added sections and started filling in parts which I’ve found from my own experience, on barcamp.org or the all new mailing list.

Geeks of London takes over from London Geekdinners

london geekdinner logo medium

Sad moment to see the London Geekdinners are no more. As the Formerly organized of Geek Dinners its wasn’t really a surprise. Cristiano Betta and Melinda Seckington took over the running of the events back over a year and half ago when I left London for Manchester. And last year spoke to me about the possibility of changing the direction of geekdinners into something else.

Its been amazing over the years, some of the guests we’ve had include, Stowe Boyd, Tim Oreilly, Adrian and Dan Hon, Brady Forrest, Jen Pahlka, Jyri Engeström, Julie Howell, Chris Messina, Tara Hunt, Chris Anderson, Kevin Marks, Dave Winer, Betsy Weber, Molly Holzschlag, Robert Scoble, Jeff Keni Pulver, Mozilia Labs, Ben Metcalfe, Marc Carter, Dr Sophie Kain, Jeremy Zawodny Howard Rheingold, Holmes Wilson, Dean Jansen, Moo.com, Paul Boag, Dave Shea, Eric Meyers, Mike Culver, Dave Crossland, BBC iplayer team, Ryan Carson, Paul Jones, Richard Clayton, Becky Hogge, David Terrar, myself and many many more…. (sorry if I didnt remember your name).

Our biggest geekdinner by its self was with Chris Anderson of Wired magazine, although the joint girl geekdinner with Scoble have been huge in the past too. The biggest so called geekdinner was the backstage p. arty/geekdinner/community party which took place in the Cuban Bar back in Christmas of 2006. Over 200 people attended that event and who could forget the massive trustedplaces.com cake. The most dinners we have done for one single person has got to be for Molly Holzschlag who will remain in our hearts as the Geekdinner queen with 3 geekdinners.

Geekdinner.co.uk had a bumpy time. The domain name is still owned by Nick Swan and the original server which the blog use to sit on has never been recovered. So if you go back in time on geekdinner.co.uk (the current server which Cristiano owns) you get to a point where there is no more blog entries. Archive.org has most of the old stuff thankfully. One of the best things which came out of geekdinners has to be the girl geekdinners which was the idea of Sarah Blow (not of my ex-wife, as I once heard recently). Sarah and the girlygeekdom have done a great job growing the event and looking back done exactly what maybe geekdinners should have done ages ago. I guess by the time we should have got serious, we were already on to running barcamps. Its great what Sarah Blow has done and I wish her good luck into the future.

We certainly moved around in venues for geekdinners. We started off in the cellar of a bar (bonds) just on Derring Street near Bond Street tube, tried a few places including the crown and anchor. Settled on the Polar Bear just behind Leicester Square before it got shut down (as we found out one day after BarCampLondon1). Tried a few more places and settled again at a very quiet place (The Bottlescrue) in the Holborn Viaduct area. It was summertime and we use to take over the whole bar including the outside seating for our geekdinners. This was also the bar we used for the biggest geekdinner with Chris Anderson. But it wasn’t to last, the reason why? Well it was in area of the city where people don’t hang around after 6pm. The bar closed its doors for good after a few months. After a little more bar shuffling including to the bear in trendy clerkenwell, we ended up at the Ye Olde Cock Taven which is still open and sits in Fleet street. We had that for quite a while before the owner drove me nuts and we moved elsewhere. This is about the time I left for Manchester and Cristiano took over. The venue he seemed to use the most was Hummus Bros in Holborn.

So as they say in the Matrix Revolutions, everything that has a beginning has an end. Geekdinners have been an amazing part of my life and I kept considering doing something like Geekdinners in Manchester. But its time to move on. I met some amazing geeks over the time of running the dinners. Some of them I’m still good friends with even now. Flicking through some of the photos, has had me thinking wow so many people, such good times. Geeks of London could be a interesting framework for other smaller events which fell in the shadow of geekdinners. Things like Bowling, Karaoke, heck even Roller Coaster riding might be your thing and there’s always usually another 4-10 people (at least) who also would go if theres interest shown. Who knows maybe there will be a geeks of Manchester one day…

The Thinking Digital Conference – 21st – 23rd May

Thinking Digital

I've been meaning to blog about this conference for bloody ages, everytime I go to do it. I remember I'm still offline most of the time. Anyway hopefully this blog post will attract a few last minute choosers and attract more people to the several days of events.

So when I first heard about the thinking digital conference I was in a innovation lab in the north west. Herb Kim of codeworks was saying a bit about codeworks supporting BBC innovation labs and then at the end he did a sneaky pitch about the singularity and it all ended on a slide for a conference he was planning. When I spoke to Herb afterwards, he explained how he had gone to TED in the states last year and wanted to run something like TED in the UK. Those words I have heard else where but when he talked about some of the speakers he had at the time, I was much more convinced this could be closer that anything else I've been to before (i've never been to TED and I've only watched Pop!Tech streamed). So anyway I wanted to help make this a reality and part of that was telling people about the conference, recording it and sponsoring a couple of the events surrounding the event. So we came to conclusion which fit both parties.

So not only is there the conference which may seem quite high cost but actually isn't for the amazing array of speakers from across the world and ideaophere (yeah I just made that up) but its in Newcastle/Gateshead so the hotel prices are not stupidly priced and hell its good to get out of London sometimes people. Lets be honest, its only 3 hours on the train from Kings Cross and that train has plugs in every seat and free wireless unlike the bloody Virgin train which has 2 power sockets per table and no wireless at all. But another reason to go up to the conference is that on the Friday is there will be a geekdinner sponsored by Backstage.bbc.co.uk and then BarCampNorthEast on the Saturday and Sunday. The very first 2 day overnight stay barcamp in the North of England so far. This is a great chance to experience barcamp as it could/should be. I know quite a few Londonerners are traveling up for the whole thing, conference, geekdinner and barcamp, so thats great. But why haven't you signed up? Do you really have something better to do? Didn't think so.

There are still some tickets left over for the conference. Look at these great names.

  • Greg Dyke , former Director General of the BBC.
    I came in when Greg decided to leave. It was a shame because I heard so much about him afterwards and I would have liked to have worked under him.
  • Doug Richard , formerly of The Dragons' Den on BBC2 and founder of Library House
    I've spoken Doug before but not at length and I've not heard speak for a while now. So it would be good to see wheres he at now
  • Ray Kurzweil, noted futurist & author of The Singularity is Near
    Do I need to say anything about Ray?
  • The Fake Steve Jobs aka Dan Lyons, senior editor of Forbes Magazine & author of Options.
    I'm interested why a journalist would do this and whats been the outcome of this since. I also think this will be a session I would like Sarah over at reading the cluetrain to maybe hear.
  • Steve Clayton, Microsoft Partner Group, UK CTO
    Self confessed geek in disguise, this guy is a good guy making waves in Microsoft.
  • Tara Hunt, founder of Citizen Agency, San Francisco.
    Tara is simply awesome, every time I hear her talk she fill my mind with so many things that I had only briefly thought about. I also like to think of Tara as a friend so it will be good to catch up. I also know she'll be at the barcamp, which is great news.
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Conferences and Festivals you should be aware of

Get those laptops out its conference season?

So there are a stupid amount of conferences and festivals in the UK this half of 2008. Usually conference season is not till the 3rd quarter but someone forgot to mention this to us brits. This is a quick run down and expect more details on certain events as and when they come up. I've stopped at June for now but theres more to come.

BarCampScotland/
Found this out via Gareth's blog about interesting events:
Febuary 1st
2nd,
at the Concourse of the Appleton Tower at the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland

The Social media forum
I'm actually talking at this one. So yes its slightly shameless self promotion but also a interesting conference about the changes in the media. The slant will be towards the gemany press, but I'll be explaining why the germany media industry should be engaging their participtors now.:
Febuary 11th
12th,
at the Side Hotel, Hamburg, Germany.

Semantic Camp 2008
Lots of talk about this one, first barcamp style event in London since BarCampLondon3. First one run by someone else besides myself. Good luck Tom, I'm sure it will be a great success. Shame I can't it as it clashes with Suw and Kevins Wedding. BBC Backstage is sponsoring this event, as its just the kind of thing we believe in.:
Febuary 16th
17th,
at the Department of Computing, Imperial College, South Kensington, London.

The Guardian's Changing Media Summit
I'm actually talking at this one (only briefly and then a panel). So yes its slightly shameless self promotion again but also a interesting conference about the changes in the media.:
March 12th,
at the Victoria Plaza Hotel, Victoria, London.

Over the Air
BBC Mobile with BBC Backstage unveil 48 hours of mobile and wireless hacking. There will be more details about this event in the near future. But right now, you want to store this date in your diary because its a Friday and Saturday with yes sleep-over. So this is a chance to really experiment and try out things you've only dreamed about. Even if you've never taken a phone apart, fear not there will be tons of tutorials by leading mobile developers and providers to lead you on your way.:
April 4th
5th,
at the TBA) Central London

Abilitynet's Web2.0 Accessibility conference
A new conference, which I happen to be talking at again. This time with people like Andy Budd and Jeremy Keith. The whole conference will centre around web accessibility in a web 2.0 world. Sounds familiar maybe? Well there was backstage podcast around the same theme recently. Should be a good conference to cover some of the things forgotten about recently. .:
April 25th,
at City University, London.

Futuresonic 2008
I have never been to futuresonic but I hear lots of good things about it. I'm hoping to be talking there with the guys behind the Radio Labs. It also seems to be growing into the UK's answer to SXSW maybe?:
May 1st
4th,
at the Manchester.

Xtech 2008
This time in Dublin instead of Paris or Amsterdam but still a great conference for those involved in the cutting edge of the net. Right after Futuresonic, so I expect quite a few people to catch a flight from Manchester to Dublin on the 5th May.:
May 6th
9th,
at the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel, Dublin, Ireland.

Thinking Digital
New type of conference, think TED or PopTech but for the UK and your on the right track. I'm involved in this one and backstage is sponsoring the event. Actually codeworks is a BBC innovation labs partner in the north east. The line up is simply amazing and very diverse, just the kind of conference the UK really needs. .:
May 21st
23rd,
at the Sage, Gateshead.

Thinking Digital Geekdinner
A geekdinner to celebrate the thinking digital conference, just a short walk across the bridge from the sage in Gateshead. Food provided by BBC Backstage. Still looking for a drinks sponsor if your interested? .:
May 23rd,
at the Picher and Piano, Newcastle

BarCampNewcastle
BarCampNewcastle, at long last but looks to be a good one following a great conference. Certainly a good reason to stay in Newcastle even longer.:
May 24th
25th,
at the (TBA), Newcastle or Gateshead.

Mashed
The big event of the summer for BBC backstage. Mashed is 1 day of conference and 2 days of open development and fun. Unlike last year, this one is all BBC with a open inviatation for others to join us. Its going to be huge again and unforgetable for everyone who signs up.:
June,
at the (TBA), London

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Backstage in Edinburgh for TV Un-festival, 25th August

Post it notes heaven

Following on from Hackday we've been planning something a little different at Backstage. This time we're getting involved in the Edinburgh TV festival and putting together a special event right out of the BarCamp book.

This year the MGEITF (Media Guardian International TV Festival) has spawned its own fringe event, the TV Un-Festival. This day-long event which takes place on Saturday 25 August will centre around the clash of the well established TV world and the constantly accelerating Internet world using the unusual un-conference format, where the cost of entry is participation.

The highlights from the TV Un-Festival will be presented at this special event, giving everyone a chance to speculate on the future of TV, online entertainment and cross platform narratives.

This year the TV Un-Festivial hosted by Backstage.bbc.co.uk and guided along by the fabulous Suw Charman, aims to explorer the clash with in a series of free formed sessions similar to BarCamp known as unconference style. Everyone will be able to participate by using one of the free 30 minute slots which will be available.

So between the lines, this event will take the essence of barcamp and un-conferences and put it in area which is usually about formal sessions and structure, the Edinburgh TV Festival. We're not using the same venue because that would be far too frantic. But we're not far from the other venue and people who come to the un-festival will have access to the festival on Saturday night and Sunday all day for free. Hows that for a great deal? The ticket for this years festival is over 400 pounds but the TV festival recognise they need more diversity in their audience and have put their money where their mouth's have been. This also easily covers the price of going to Edinburgh and checking into a hotel, which I know if bloody hard at this very moment. I also wish I'd told people a lot earlier but we need to get the correct sign off from everyone involved

So who will be there? is what I keep being asked. Well we have a list of names on the site but generally we have a selection of established names like the BBC, BT, etc. Then we have some more internet based startups like Blip.TV, Joost, etc. I then invited a load of dark net people like Ian Clarke who wrote Freenet and is currently working on Thoof. On a slight tangent we have the Hon brothers who work for Mind Candy and built Perplexcity. My thinking is that Cross platform narrative runs right through this un-festival and that's why I'm interested in getting the ARG people and Video game people also in the same room with more traditional online video people. Last but not least I'm really keen to get Videobloggers and TV hackers together in the same space too but this looks to difficult due to the total lack of cross over between each area. So anyway you can see its going to be a very diverse event.

If your interested and I really think you should be, Signup now and we'll see you in Edinburgh.

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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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BarCampLondon2 is over…

Ending BarCampLondon2

BarCampLondon2 could not have gone much better. It was a great experience and dare It, better that the first one. Thanks to everyone who turned up and made it an unforgettable event. I've had a total of 3 hours sleep over the weekend, so my brain is crying out for bed. But who could know Werewolf could be so intense….

Werewolf

lots more to come… but in the meantime, I'm uploading video to blip.tv, pictures to flickr and my slides to slideshare. All using the BarCampLondon2 tag.

So my account of BarCampLondon2 should be pretty consistent with most others. It was a bloody good event. The venue supplied by BT was nothing short of amazing. We had the showcase arena which includes autoriumum fit for CEOs including 180+ investers. Thseat wewcomfortablele enough for me to actually sleep hours unlikeke the Yahoo offices last year, we only had a couple of so called rooms. Instead we spaces with either a 60 inch plasma screen or projectors with over 100 inch screens. Most of them seateabout 4040people, so with 3 spaces upstairs, one in the middle and 3 downstairs. There was more that enough room. But at the same time, it never felt like there was no one around. Talking of which 70+ people stayed over night, how do I know? Because I went around about 5am and counted. This is over double what we had last time and according to Chris Messina better that the last San Francisco BarCamp. Quite a few people didn't go to sleep over night, they opted to stay uthrough thehenight. In total we had about 170 people, but i did notice some new people during the day, so I would say we weren't that far off 200. I also think the people who really wanted to present did get a chance, also this time around no one had more that one session.

This time around we also had wireless connectivity, this time via BT Openzone passes. We (the organizers) were honestly worried about 24 hour passes. BT offered a lot of Openzone passes but each one cost its full price of 10 pounds. So obviously BT wanted to keep the costs down. Hence we didn't throw them out the crowd. We worried there wouldn't be enough for everyone during the whole of BarCamp. So come Sunday morning we would have a 100 people asking for new passes at the same time. We tried to setup ut itwasn't to be. In the end it all worked out and out worst fears didn't happen.

Talking about Organizers, Nat and Jason were a pleasure to work with. Some people might remember me asking for a co-organizer to work with a while ago. A lot of people were interested but in the end I choose Jason because he was super excited to be involved and lived pretty close. Nat although living in Oxford was also very excited and offered to do what she could remotely like print out signs, etc. Both of them were enthuastic and were willing to spend a lot of time on BarCampLondon2. I had maother offersersbut some were less excited and some had already done a BarCamp in another country. I really wanted to give new people a chance to get a feel for BarCamp and who knows might happen in the future. So big thanks to Nat and Jason once again, couldn't have done it without you guys.

So in more details behind the decisions of BarCampLondon2.

Eventwax, was recommended to me by Nat. I setup an account (wishes it had OpenID support) and liked what I saw. So I used it and gave the account details to Nat and Jason too. Our first problem came with the firsign upnup period of 1.5hrs. I allocated 100 tickets and they all went in 1.5 hours. Now that was fucking amazing but the message which you got when you then tried to sign up wasn't very useful. So much so, that our friends who don't speEnglishish as there first language didn't quite get the odd messageabout tickets and went ahead and booked their airplane/train tickets. So in that case I would send out a invite or clue them into went the next wave of tickets would be. Some could say thats unfair but its tricky if that person has already bought there tickets. I had a lot of complaints about the words tickets aattendeesees. I would love for the Eventwax guys to build in the ability to change the wording through out the site on a event by event bases. Tabilityity to also say this event is free and costs nothingwould be useful. I didn't try out the promo code stuff but that certainly looks useful for guest tickets in the future, would certainly beat sending out invites. The different levels of tickets was damm useful, because I could do the wave thing with tickets. So after the first 100, I started putting out tickets on the wiki and a few email lists. The same is true of the 3rd wave. Eventwax allows you decide in advance when tickets go live and stop. Date is great but time would also be very useful, as midnight isn'tvery useful for most people. Cancellation are a pain to deal with eventwax (although thank you to everyone who did email us), it would be great to have an aggregator ticket which looks how many spaces are actually left and offers them up as a ticket. On the last wave of tickets I had to keep cacluating the difference and changing the tickets for the last wave. That was a pain. Looking back I shouldn't have left the last wave of tickets till 2 days before the event but I really wanted to reuse all tcanceledledtickets. In the end we ended up with about 20% not used.

One last thing about the ticket thing, I wish I'd never mentioned IDs and checking. That caused a shit storm which I thought might actually shadow the event. My reasoning behind it was because yes I did hear about people selling tickets and getting multiple tickets under different names. There might have been some truth to it all but in the end we still had the 20% drop off.

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The weekend of BarCampLondon2

BarCampLondon2

Yep its finally come and I'm nervous to say the least. I look forward to the weekend but I know its going to be a lot of work. My presentation is still half done (hoping to finish it in a cafe today) although I can pull up my flow blog, yahoo pipes, touchstone, wikipedia and talk about pipelines.

There are still some tickets left over for those last minute thinkers.

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BarCampLondon2 the first wave of signups

BarCampLondon2

Sign up for BarCampLondon2 kicked off yesterday at 1pm (GMT). There were 100 spaces available and a hour and half later they were all gone. This is simply amazing speed, last year it took 36 hours to fill about the same. This time there was no wiki locking drama because we're using Eventwax (cheers Nat for the good recommendation). However I did add some drama by not revealing that we are going to release the tickets in waves rather that all at once. This also means we can still have places up the last minute and increase those spaces if someone drops out of the first wave. I do wonder why I've never heard of Eventwax before?

Anyway the important part is the dates planned for new tickets. There will be some before the end of this week (maybe Thursday or Friday), some more next week (start of Feb) and the rest maybe the week of the event. We have room for 200 people at this years BarCampLondon and at the moment we've used 106 spaces in total. So honestly fear not, keep an eye on the wiki for changes and add me on twitter because I'll certainly announce when I release more spaces. Although don't expect more that 20 at a time now.

All in all, waving out the spaces makes a lot more sense and I'll be using this much more in the future.

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Events planned for Friday and the next few months

at media social

So I've been very quiet about my Backstage job on my own blog, according someone I recently spoke to (yes you who just got a new flat, you know who you are). But its not because I don't want to talk about it or because I can't. Its because I'm so damm busy! This is a good thing because everyday there is something new to deal with and on going projects which were just kick starting.

Along with my new job at Backstage.bbc.co.uk, is event planning. Being the public facing developer network which backstage is, this will mean lots of events up and down the country (yes not just London). Its not a problem to give you an insight into some of the events were planning. Yes this is a good chance to get them in your diary or calendar so you don't miss them…

So first up is the Geekdinner with Molly which has nothing to do with backstage at all. This is shaping up to be a large geekdinner with at least 70 people signed up to come. I'm going to have a word with the pub manager because actually were going to take over the whole bar if it rains or is cold outside. In the past, we've been able to use the benches but in late October this may be a problem. I may also have to invest in a microphone and speaker setup because with so many people it may be a problem hearing Molly, although being from New York shes use to making herself heard.

On October 31st we got the same venue for a great game of Werewolf, and what better day to play it? If you've never played before, don't worry come along its easy to pick up and ever so much fun. Specially when everyones been drinking. Don't drink too much or you may turn into a real werewolf…

Now were heading into new waters. On Monday 6th November were going to have the first new Backstage meetup to go with the backstage widget contest. The venue is not confirmed but it looks to be somewhere in the city maybe moorgate? We were thinking Fireworks but couldn't find a venue where we could set off fireworks (kidding!).

Now were certainly in new waters. I've contacted most of the groups and communities around London like Swedish Beers, Girl Geekdinners, etc and asked if they would like to take part in a large scale Christmas Bash. The Christmas Bash looks like it will happen sometime between Wednesday 6th December and Saturday 9th December. The venue is still under lots of consideration and partly depends on the amount of london groups who agreed to take part in the bash. But honestly it looks to be a good one, so please keep that part of December free if you can.

Hummm I've missed something? Ah yes, BarCampLondon2. Yes I'm still working on it and I might know soon what date and where it will be. I'm still going for late November but I don't have any more details to give quite yet sorry. Once I know anything all those who asked if they could help with the next one will know and I'll announce it to the world soon afterwards.

So yes quite a few London events, but fear not. I might have news for other parts of the UK soon. The best way to keep up to date with my events and others is using upcoming and also now the google calendar

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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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d.Construct 2006 tomorrow

d.construct programs

Tomorrow I get to sit back and relax while someone else arranges a conference. Yep d.construct is upon us and this time around, I have a ticket. So I'll see some of you there. In the usual way, I'll hopefully take tons of photos and some videos if my batteries last long enough. After the day of conference speaking comes the social events and it looks like the beach side location is going to be a great ending to the day.

Jeremy Keith, that famous podcaster has tons of details about some pre-event happening right now and some open street mapping happening Saturday. I'll only be down for the Friday, but might be convinced to getting the first train to London if people are up for a all-nighter. There is also a Microformats picnic which looks to be good. I'm also thinking about doing some little interviews with some of the guys I met at BarCamp. Hey and lets not forget to get a game of Werewolf going at some point. Maybe Werewolf on the beach around a small camp fire with a full moon? You know really get into the mood.

Andy did ask me if I wanted to run a geekdinner after d.construct on the Saturday, but finding a venue in a city I don't know well on a Saturday night was a very tall order. Specially with all my time taken up on BarCampLondon at the time. Next year, for sure…

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