Monday, September 26, 2011

What's a BarCamp?

Saturday was the 4th Annual BarCamp Tampa Bay. BarCamps happen around the world. Started as FOO Camp (Friends of O'Rielly), the first few were in fact held in a Bar. Here in Tampa, we prefer a more business like setting as Year 1 & 2 were held at the USF School of Business and the last 2 years at K-Force HQ in Ybor. We like having 5 rooms for talks.

This year was record setting with over 350 people showing up, including Tampa Mayor Buckhorn.

BarCamp is an UN-conference in the sense that the agenda is created that morning by the participants. Everyone has complaints about this, but it's a fluid process as talks are added, taken away and moved throughout the day as presenters come and go and people show up later in the day. This year we had iPhone and Android scheduling apps brought to you by Barry Ezell and Matt Munday.

The hardest part about organizing is remembering who to thank. It takes a Village to put on this type of event, so on top of the volunteers and the organizer committee (Joel, Sean, Susie, Stephanie, Aris and me), there are sponsors to thank. BarCampTour (for the pre-party at the Museum and for participating); Buddy Brew (for coffee); SourceToad; StartupWeekend Tampa (Lunch sponsor!); AgileThought; Microsoft; Haneke Design; Madera Labs; Grooveshark; K-Force and Tampa Bay Computer Society. [BTW, many sponsors are looking for talent.]

The schedule was funny this year. It didn't fill up for all 5 rooms until almost lunch. Most rooms were standing room only, but 350 people can't squeeze into 5 rooms that seat 25, 50, or 85 people. Despite the UNTHINK people just showing up to pitch, that room remained full. Dan Denney and company gave a sneak peak at the We are Tampa Bay website re-design and the project behind it. There was a light-saber duel in the Micorsoft SDK demo. Brainstorming in the creative problem solving sessions. Some of us watched Seth Godin's Linchpin video and talked about the problems facing the economy. There were 2 talks about relationships - one from me and one from Aubrey. (I also spoke about Why Blog? slides here.) Head of Lettuce and fellow Cranky Bastard Antony spoke about Twitter, his favorite little toy. It's an eclectic mashup of tech, programming, user design, social media, and more. (No business classes this time round, except maybe the one on affiliate marketing.)

Here are 5 blogs about this year's BarCamp that explain why people attend: Sean Davis, our Grand Poobah 2011; Steve Buehler; Ken Evans; John Adair; and this one.

More about BarCamp. There is probably one in your community: Raliegh, Charlotte, New Orleans, Miami, Chicago, and more. Attend one and you may find some talent for your business or a project. You never know.

One reason for BarCamp is to build a deeply connected community.

And one more cool blog: Peer-to-peer Healthcare at Medicine 2.0

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