Asking for help by Brainjamming…

Back row

Marc Canter, the founder of Macromind the company which became Macromedia. Messaged me recently as he wanted to let me know about a new type of event called a Brainjam. Marc is fantastic guy and I had the joy of having him talk at London Geekdinners way back near the start of it.

Join a community of your peers who are committed to the development of a better world by building bridges between diverse perspectives and differing opinions in order to develop solutions cooperatively, instead of through activism by opposition. Following our first event in Washington DC on October 9, and a second one in San Francisco, CA on October 22, our movement’s founder, Chris Heuer, will briefly share his vision for We Are the Solution and facilitate one of his signature unconference conversations, a BrainJam, to connect you with other people, ideas and resources that will help you to accomplish your goals and live your life’s purpose.

What does that mean? Well, to put it simply, we are building a community of communities for leaders, concerned citizens and others interested in social good so that you may help each other in ways big and small. So it’s a kind of networking event with a specific emphasis on ASKING for help from each other and finding opportunities to share your gifts by making connections that might not otherwise happen if we didn’t sit face to face in conversation with each other.

Reading about it… Sounds something between the original spirit of BarCamp with a bit of the share one moment events.

I do wish I could be in London for it but with the week of events and talks coming up, theres no way I can do this too. I mean my life packed solid with too much already. Of course if you are in London or Dublin. You might want to check out the events.

It also kind of reminds me of which recently went into public beta and the well loved Google Schemer but  in real life. Maybe brainjam is a inspiration network? Very fitting as the workshop  at Thinking Digital Manchester is all about shared opportunities, genuine connections and collaboration.

There was also a conversation about what next after BarCamp, some people were kicking about a long while ago.  Maybe Brainjams? Maybe a brainjam in Manchester is a good idea? Sounds like something we tried to do with common ground a while ago.

Lots to think about… but if you are in London or Dublin, get yourself down to one!

FLOSS software things which I wonder about…

“FLOSS” (Free/Libre/Open Source Software), and “FOSS” (or F/OSS, Free and Open Source Software).

I attended the Floss Unconference fest yesterday at Manchester Conference centre (a location I had planned to use for BarCampManchester2 due to their ability to do overnights and excellent warren like structure).
The event was reasonable but not well attended, which was a shame. It needed about another 30 people to feel more busy and active. Not quite sure why people never came out for it…? But to be honest I only spotted it by hearing a tweet from Teknoteacher. Anyhow, at the end of the day there were lightening talks and I jumped at the chance to talk about software which really needs to be developed on Linux. I’ve adopted this post to apply to most Floss type things…

First up…

  • What happened to Say my name desert? The developer moved to announcefy but frankly its a downgrade and I’m just about to uninstall it because they’ve been talking about plugins for yonks and they still don’t exist. Instead I just installed Call Announcer which seems to do what I want, but we’ll see…
  • In the same vein, locale what happened? I’ve switched to the hyper geeky Llama which operates based on radio cell towers so in theory it shouldn’t eat so much power as locale. But to be honest I’ve not really had time to mess with it and tweak it.
Now to the desktop…

I’m sure theres plenty more but these are my thoughts right now…

The next few months are very busy

I knew September onwards was going to be busy but this is getting a little out of control…

As you can see a whole bunch of them take place within or close to Manchester, so luckily i won’t have to go too far… However I’m also looking to finally go to Le Web for the very first time and maybe the Media Festival again.

Its cranking up to be a hectic autumn but hopefully a decent one full of lots of great experiences and people…

Women at a overnight barcamp?

Suzanne Valadon Blogging, after Lautrec

Everytime we’ve tried to accommodate woman at previous BarCamp, we’ve been told “don’t treat us any different.”

It wasn’t till BarCampManchester2 when Lucy really made her feelings known about woman staying over night at a BarCamp. Up till that point it hasn’t really been a problem, but the idea of staying over seemed so shocking that even I was surprised. Fast forward to this month and Samantha convinces me that having a contact for woman to get in touch to ask questions about staying over makes sense to me. To be fair I didn’t take much convincing, it made sense to me for capturing a new groups of woman who might be put off

However in Techgrumps 39 last night, Iris seems pretty upset about the idea of woman staying over night at a event with men. It might have been her lack of experience ever going to a barcamp or the bad description we explained the concept of barcamp with… But then Samantha send me the recent blog post of Tim Oreilly.

We’ve been contacted recently about issues of sexual harassment at technical conferences, including at Oscon, which starts tomorrow in Portland. At O’Reilly we take those issues very seriously. While we’re still trying to understand exactly what might have happened at Oscon or other O’Reilly conferences in the past, it’s become clear that this is a real, long-standing issue in the technical community. And we do know this: we don’t condone harassment or offensive behavior, at our conferences or anywhere. It’s counter to our company values. More importantly, it’s counter to our values as human beings.

I’m starting to wonder if I was too easy going about this all, and actually I’ve just been lucky that nothing like this has ever happened while I’ve arranged things.

BarCampMediaCity has some fantastic facilities including multiple toilets, changing rooms and even showers. It would be a real shame if people didn’t take full advantage.

The new designers are back

So for a long time I use to call myself a designer/developer because I couldn’t quite put myself in one or the other category. This in between category was the best I could come up with at a time when the industry wasn’t very accepting of someone who couldn’t code but didn’t live in photoshop or walk around with a mac attached to there hip (obviously I’m totally joking about the last bit).

The problem started for me when I thought xml was a very cool technology and I started to use it for things in my design class. For example SVG gave me chills, I wouldn’t shut up about it. I mean a way to describe a picture or illustration without resorting to a describe field was amazing. And that was just the start. In previous years I learned about XHTML, XML, XSL, Xpath, SMIL, VRML (now X3d), Xpointer, Xlink, etc. All these technologies seemed to fit together nicely. So after spending some time with startup Edwards Churcher (a design/coding/business outfit based in fashionable Clerkenwell, London) I went back to college during the risk adverse dot bomb era and started doing work with these technologies. Thats also where I learned XSL 1.0, played with Apache Cocoon (the xml pipelining framework) and started messing with a XMLdb (existdb). I was also teaching the students about the technologies I was learning myself. Teaching interaction design students XSL was one of my biggest challenges at the time.

Anyway, before we go too far down memory lane, lets get back to the point.

All the designers were learning Flash and Shockwave (director) and the programmers were learning Java, PHP, Perl. I didn’t fit in either camp and even worst there seemed to be no one else I could spot who was going through the same identity crisis.

However as the industry got more mature, things started to come together and now I can gladly say I’m spotting more new designers (thats what I call them) that ever before. Some of them I’ve known for ages but they have been pigeon holed all this time or chosen work which has let them reflect a certain aspect of there knowledge or personality.

  • Chris Messina or FactoryJoe as he use to be called is a designer who learned to code. I use to think he was just a coder but after many meals and chats with him, I’ve come to learn that no he’s a designer really. If that wasn’t shocking enough, I also learned how old he is *lol*. What a guy!
  • Gavin Bell who now works for nature science magazine and I’ve known him for quite sometime but really well enough it seems. In a recent conversation with Jon Udell on Itconversation’s interview with innovators. Gavin talked about the challenge of having a design focus in a technical job (among other things). Its actually what prompted me to write this blog post.

New designers are popping out of the wood work all over the place and frankly this is no bad thing.

I was a recent barcamp in Manchester and I attended a session which was really a brainstorm for ideas. After the predictable ideas, I chimed in and said "heck I have a idea every few seconds. There ten a penny, here’s a few ideas for you…"

My boss (Adrian Woolard) talks about the continual use of design techniques to problem solve, collaborate and process a idea a lot. And he’s not wrong, I’m seeing it more and more. The thing we learned in the design world are being adopted and modified for creative people generally. For example BarCamp has its roots in something called Unconference which leads back to the design focused Openspace which goes right back to the 70’s I believe? There’s many examples of this and other design process’s being taken up.

Going to Fosdem 2010

I'm going to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting

I’m booked to go to my first Fosdem. Got the train from Manchester to Brussels return for 140 pounds but the hotel (Hotel Centrale) was quite a bit more but right next to the main station and Parc de Bruxelles. Never been to Brussels before, so on either side of Fosdem, I’ve decided to take some time off and have a wonder around the city.

The Fosdem conference seems to be shaping up into a good event too. Here’s a few of the talks I’ll be checking out.

I do wish there was some guys from XBMC and the Apache Cocoon project coming along, but hey I’m sure between the Mozilia, XMPP, OpenOffice and Ubuntu guys there will be lots of fun.

A different type of conference?


From Tom Morris

I've got this great idea for a conference

First, it'd have a session called “Pop Culture and Democracy” which would discuss whether the Internet culture's of remixing popular culture helps in democratic participation and related areas. Just over an hour long. Then I'd have a panel of tech people talking about microformats, spam, Creative Commons and anything else that seems interesting or relevant. After that a short discussion from a researcher talking about the Semantic Web. Next, a half hour session or so on Python programming. Then just under fifty minutes of Cory Doctorow doing all the usual Cory things – copyright, DRM, evil Microsoft etc. A discussion of the role of developers, then an hour on the One Laptop Per Child project. Sound like a cool conference? That's good. It's a list of the podcasts I'm going to listen to. Podcasts are what conferences have become.

Point taken about the podcasts but I would say a BarCamp (unconference) is pretty close to what your getting at. However there is certainly something between a unconference and conference which could be reached. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with d.construct and barcampbrighton in September. Conference+UnConference in one weekend, should be great.

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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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SXSW interactive competition, updated

Taken from the geekdinner website.

We are please to tell ya’ll we have joined forces with the lovely folks @ SXSW Interative to give one lucky Geek Dinner attendee a free SXSW Interactive ticket.

To be in with a chance of winning this amazing prize, in the spirit of the Podcast Geek Dinner on February 23rd, please SMS the word “Podcast” followed by your Name, URL, Email, and Location to 60300.

The lucky winner will be announced by Paul Boag at the February 23rd Geek Dinner. You need to attend to win, if your the winner and did not attend, another name with be drawn from Ian’s Hat!
p.s. standard sms charges apply [this is not a premium rate shortcode!]. no terms and conditions. you win, you get the ticket.

So get txting, and good luck

The thing which has been putting people off is the flights and hotel prices. But its no longer a worry.

Thanks, now, to our buddies at Shopzilla this SXSWi ticket now comes with a return flight, and hotel. Sweet!

Lee was able to get the flights and hotel also sorted for the one lucky winner. So in totally were talking a prize of about 1000+ pounds! Its such a good deal that honestly even I'm tempted to enter but know I can't really. Imagine if I won, people would spam this blog forever with fix. Anyhow, I would enter if you can because right now there is a 1 in about 35 chance that you will win the ticket. Thats fantastic odds and even if you don't win you still get a great night out next Thursday with Paul Boag and the rest of the geeks. Like Lee says, good luck and hope to be pulling your name out of my magic hat.

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