Oh my. It was six months ago that I put my name down to organise the first BarCamp in Sydney, in Australia. I wasn’t alone for long, within a couple months a mighty team came on board: Russ Weakley, Jason Yip, Mick Liubinskas and Rich Buggy. We’ve got Microsoft, Google, Linux etc sponsoring us and about 200 people from major corporations, startups and individuals coming. It is going to be big and exciting and fun. But what am I talking about when I say ‘BarCamp’?
Despite starting relatively recently in 2005, BarCamp has a long heritage. Open Space Technology, for instance, started a couple of decades ago. The method involves workshopping rather than presentations, with the aim for a particular outcome.
Open Space Technology is one way to enable all kinds of people, in any kind of organization, to create inspired meetings and events. Over the last 20+ years, it has also become clear that opening space, as an intentional leadership practice, can create inspired organizations, where ordinary people work together to create extraordinary results with regularity.Â (quote)
Harrison Owen, one of the core drivers of Open Space Technology, describes it as follows:
â€œAt the very least, Open Space is a fast, cheap, and simple way to better, more productive meetings. At a deeper level, it enables people to experience a very different quality of organization in which self-managed work groups are the norm, leadership a constantly shared phenomenon, diversity becomes a resource to be used instead of a problem to be overcome, and personal empowerment a shared experience. It is also fun. In a word, the conditions are set for fundamental organizational change, indeed that change may already have occurred. By the end, groups face an interesting choice. They can do it again, they can do it better, or they can go back to their prior mode of behavior.
Open Space is appropriate in situations where a major issue must be resolved, characterized by high levels of complexity, high levels of diversity (in terms of the people involved), the presence of potential or actual conflict, and with a decision time of yesterday.
Open Space runs on two fundamentals: passion and responsibility. Passion engages the people in the room. Responsibility ensures things get done. A focusing theme or question provides the framework for the event. The art of the question lies in saying just enough to evoke attention, while leaving sufficient open space for the imagination to run wild.â€
We donâ€™t have aÂ theme or outcome in mind for BarCampSydney 0.1,Â so anything goes.
Tim Oâ€™Reilly developed the Open Space Technology approach and applied it directly to the theme of technology. He created FOOCamp and held the first one in October 2003. His description of FOOCampÂ was:
Weâ€™ve invited about 400 people whoâ€™re doing interesting work in fields such as wireless, web services, open source programming, GPS, and all manner of emerging technologies to share their work-in-progess, show off the latest tech toys and hardware hacks, and tackle challenging problems together. Weâ€™ll have some planned activities, but much of the agenda will be determined by you. Weâ€™ll provide space, electricity, a wireless network, and a wiki. You bring your ideas, enthusiasms, and projects. We all get to know each other better, and hopefully come up with some cool ideas about how to change the world.
ForÂ BarCampSydney weâ€™re adopting most of what Oâ€™Reilly outlines here, except for two factors. 1) Weâ€™re making topics open to those beyondÂ software in particularÂ to include creative uses in entertainment, art, marketing, podcasts and so on. Other camps that have explored this as a theme include: ArtCamp, MarCamp and BlogCamp.Â Rather than see BarCamp as a technology-only event, weâ€™re using the term to encompass all the possible conversations that could be had about digital media. 2) The other approach we wonâ€™t be employing is the invite only model. Indeed, this is why BarCamp was invented.
The spirit that you can see in the Open Space Technology and FOOCamp approaches holds true in BarCamp too. Some quotes from the BarCamp wiki, The Rules of BarCamp:
When you come, be prepared to share with barcampers.
When you leave, be prepared to share it with the world.
Looking forward to experiencing this event with you allâ€¦wherever it leadsâ€¦
Here are some of theÂ topics I’m keen to chat about/learn from others:
- Oliver Weidlich Â http://www.idealinterfaces.wordpress.com Mobile Customer Experience, Youth Culture Usability
- Jennifer WilsonÂ http://www.hww.com.au/Â youth and mobile
- Angus FraserÂ http://www.angusf.com/Â demo social drawing site
- Leslie NassarÂ http://abc.net.au/Â something podcasty
- Craig SharkieÂ http://www.yahoo.com.auÂ Putting the You in User Generated Content
- John DaltonÂ http://john.daltons.info/ Wireless networks, human powered transport, trying to use quantum electrodynamics to simulate a hydrogen atom, …
- Tim HughesÂ http://tims-boot.blogspot.com/Â New media, content and online advertising trends in the US and what they mean for Australia
- Tim GriffinÂ http://www.raveaboutit.com.auÂ user-generated content, running a startup, state of local search in Australia
- Mark RimmerÂ http://www.raveaboutit.com.auÂ user-generated content, running a startup, search technologies in general
- Bob HughesÂ http://www.netcastnow.netÂ podcasts netcasts etc
- Hunter NieldÂ http://syndeomedia.comÂ Social Media and Rails
- Greg TurnerÂ http://www.gregturner.orgÂ recent work, creativity support, collective voices, Django
- Gavin HeatonÂ http://servantofchaos.typepad.com/Â digital storytelling
- Simon PainÂ http://lab.news.com.au/ The headache of User Generated Content
- John AllsoppÂ http://westciv.comÂ semantics, microformats, and so forth
- Charlie Brewer Â http://lab.news.com.au Editorial Developmemnt manager at NEWS.com.au looking at making NEWS smarter, faster and better for you
- Lisa HerrodÂ http://www.scenarioseven.com.auÂ present a new game I’ve created in designing and eliciting a site IA
- Steven RoddisÂ http://www.stevenroddis.com.auÂ Cryptography
- John RotensteinÂ http://www.ca.comÂ talk on the trend towards timeshifting of entertainment technologies, eg Tivo, Podcasts, TV downloads, and the impact on modern lifestyle
- Snepo (Ben, Scott, Arse) http://www.snepo.com/ How to avoid knife fights in the office.. and mayhaps some Flash/Ruby/Product Development
Who knows what is going to happen? I don’t, but I know it is going to be darn interesting and exciting. See you there, or keep on eye on our blog, the place where we’ll post updates and links to our podcasts etc.