What is BarCamp?
One of the most inspiring things I did last year was attend BarCamp Portland, and it’s here again this weekend.
BarCamp is essentially a conference without an agenda. A bunch of smart people get together for the weekend, spend a while Friday sticking post-it notes on a blank wall, and build their own schedule. Have a skill to share? Teach a class! Have a tough question to hash out? Host a discussion!
BarCamp is clearly born of the tech community. It has a wiki for session planning. Participants are encouraged to share their Twitter and blog addresses. Sponsors are a virtual “who’s who” of Portland tech startups.
But it would be a mistake to think the conference is “about” technology, or that you have to be a tech geek to get something good out of it. One of the first things I noticed last night was the number of women in attendance: as a rough guess, I’d say women jumped from about 10% to 30% of of the group since last year. Events on the schedule include “stitch and bitch,” “bikes and geeks,” and a session for DJs.
For me, the most promising aspect of BarCamp is the opportunity to explore new methods of collaboration. No group is more dedicated to removing the barriers to effective collaboration than computer geeks; an environment that invites them to consider and practice this stuff with a wider audience brings all kinds of good things.
On Sunday morning (10:00), I’ll be hosting a discussion that’s closely related to this blog: What’s the matter with democracy? How can the Internet-enabled world participate in developing a solution?
If you’re intrigued by BarCamp but can’t make it, WikiWednesday is a similar event that takes place once a month; also, this event this coming Tuesday looks promising.