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emma persky

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BarCampBelfast 2008

June 23rd, 2008 · 4 Comments · Barcamps, Travel

And so the hectic geek-event-fest of June 2008 started on Friday 20th with a short flight over the Irish Sea to Belfast for the latest instalment of BarCampBelfast.

My hotel, the Tara Lodge, as suggested on the wiki was fantastic. If you are going to Belfast I could not recommend this place highly enough. Perfect location (10 minutes walk from the city centre), charming staff, excellent food, and finished off to 4* hotel standards! 

Apart from some weirdness on Friday night, which involved me being stroked by a strange man, and being asked (in Polish, by an Irish guy) if I was from Poland, and some confusion over finding people at the pre-party it was a pretty damn good weekend. 

My bedroom at the Tara Lodge

The BarCamp itself was held in a venue at Queen’s University Belfast. The layout was perfect with the 2 rooms next too each other, and registration and food just outside. It’s so important for barcamps to get this right because if you start having to run around a building to get from room to room it can be somewhat frustrating. The only downside was that 2 rooms was probably not enough for the sessions.

There were about 14 sessions in the two rooms across the day, which was a little bit tight, I think it would have been better to have 3 tracks, which would have given everyone the breathing space they needed between sessions. Over run can really mess up the timetable, which needed to be rejigged several times to make everything fit. Fortunately none of this detracted from the barcamp as it was seamlessly managed by the fantastic organiser Andy (t), an absolute star for arranging the great event. 


I would also have stuck to the “make a timetable with blank slots and let people fill them in” principle rather than the “tell us what you want to talk about and we’ll slot you in”. Although probably counter intuitive, it really does work. It also means you don’t have to worry about asking how long people need (give every session 30 minutes, even the speakers who say they’ll be done in 10, they’ll need it trust me…). And adding some time (even 5 minutes) between sessions is always a good idea to allow people to change rooms, and so that speakers can be told their time is up! 

Andy Making the Timetable

The sessions themselves were fascinating, including one on personal development / life coaching by Tracy (t) - I promise to do more photography. And a chat with Grannymar (t) and Darragh Doyle (t) about blogging - I will blog more often! Somehow I missed the talk on good coffee by Andrew Gribben (t) and the very end of the day because I had to catch my flight at 18:30.

It was a shame there was no overnight component, as I find that a game of werewolf and a few drinks in the small hours is the best way to actually get to know people. It’s much harder when your in a talk or grabbing a bite during a quick lunch. Having said that, I did have a chance to meet lots of interesting people, and my only gripe is that I didn’t have more time to spend with them!


The food provisions rivalled those of BarCampLondon3 at Google, with yummy pizza, chips and fizz provided for all. 

The food at BarCampBelfast

As for that, I left at 17:45, cutting it a little fine, but I do like to live on the edge, and Belfast City Airport isn’t exactly that busy. When I tried to go through security with my pre-printed boarding card (thinking “it’ll be OK even if check-in has closed, I have my boarding card”) I was stopped because the essential barcode had failed to print out. Luckily the Ryanair printed me a proper boarding card (the first I’ve had in a very long time), and I made my way back to London. Straight to Mashed!

Would I travel such distances for another event. You bet I would!

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Grannymar // Jun 23, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Hi Emma

    It was great to meet you on Saturday. Again, I wish we had more time for networking.

    Thanks for the link. I look forward to meeting you next time.

  • 2 Andrew Gribben // Jun 23, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    LOL, I’m the coffee guy, but I’ll not hold it against you. Lee was talking about web design or some such malarky, I wasn’t listening as well as I should as I was finishing my keynote.

  • 3 emma // Jun 23, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    @andrew oops, sorry about that, I was all confused on the 3 hours of sleep I have had this week! When was it that you did speak?

  • 4 Andrew Gribben // Jun 24, 2008 at 7:58 am

    That’s ok, my name and topic got moved about the board a bit during scheduling, eventually I was first in the afternoon in room 210. I met a few people and forgot to get their names so I could keep in touch, so I know how you feel, its hard to keep track of us all, which goes to show how much of a success it was, the turnout was great!

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