traveller with a tale

emma persky

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BarCamp London 4

June 3rd, 2008 · 2 Comments · Barcamps

I have a mixed set of feelings about this barcamp and I’m quite conscious that my personal prejudices and gripes could get in the way on an objective write up. But you guys don’t read my blog for objectivity, so what the heck

As an event there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, and apart from a few hiccups with the tickets I can’t fault Ross Bruniges (t) as he really did an excellent job. However, I lacked the feeling of any sense of community or belonging, I simply didn’t get the barcamp vibe that I have felt at others before.

There are a couple of reasons for this, none of which in themselves would have been terrible, but when they compounded on each other the result was less than spectacular.

It was a fairly large barcamp (by my standards) at somewhere in the region of 100+ people, which is great, I think we should get as many people in the community as possible involved in events like this. The downside of a large barcamp (and I would imagine even more so at the even larger barcamps) is that it is difficult to connect with people, and for me that is the core reason for going to barcamps, to meet people, to make those inspirational connections.

At large barcamps there is much more scope for cliques to self organise, for an entire group of friends to come along, happy that they know 25 other people, not really fussed by actually getting to know anyone else, which severely undermines the community feeling. I’m guilty of doing this myself sometimes, but likewise I think I try to stop myself whenever I become aware of it. The effect of this is that you have two classes of people, those who are connected, and those who are not, and never the two shall meet for more than a simple “hello.” And this really sucks!

The other side of large barcamps is the complexity of session organisation. Clearly it is important to have enough sessions for everyone to present, however, it is also important not to spread those sessions to thinly. At BarCampLondon4 we had 15 time slots across 8 rooms  - 120 sessions, perfect for the expected attendance. But 8 rooms was probably too many, I think it is better to run the barcamp for an extra few hours and have less rooms. It encourages more connections and prevents situations which can dishearten presenters when only a few people turn up to their talk.

I do want to say thank you to everyone who came to to my Hand Gesture Recognition Talk and asked me all sorts of awkward questions which have helped me write my report.

It wasn’t as bad as I think I’m making it sounds, and I did have a good time, but what I am trying to say is that I love small, community focused, down to earth barcamps, not large, corporate ones. I’m really looking forward to BarCampBelfast in a few weeks, I think that will be much more my style of event.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sam Machin // Jun 5, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I think one of the issues of BCL4 was the building Layout, the seesions were mostly of the 1st floor with the board on the 6th and a couple of rooms on the 7th & 8th!

    Also I think its good to have a communal space for people to just sit around and chat / geek out!

    Would be interesting to design the perfect room/building layout for a Barcamp :-)

  • 2 Dan Morris // Jun 29, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Hi Emma, this just popped up in my RSS and I thought it reminded me of your BCL4 hack!

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