[BCS3 promo video from BCS2 pics by Ivo Brett]

I went to BarCampSydney 3 yesterday as an attendee, not an (un)organiser, for the first time. I pulled out of (un)organising because of the time needed to commit to the preparation, time which I had to put towards finishing my PhD. So, it was a real blast to be able to turn up when I felt like it and just move around listening to whatever talks I wanted. Previously I had blogged writeups of BCSs that spoke about the spirit of entrepeneurs and facilitating and feeling the effects of participation. This year I’ll just give a short run down of some of the highlights for me and a handful of observations.

Some Highlights:

Joseph Gentle’s talk about object-oriented operating systems. That isn’t what he called the idea (he hasn’t got a name for it yet), and it isn’t the first time it has been attempted, but I really liked hearing someone talking blue sky about making computing better.

Ryan Cross’s sensible talk about Drupal (Drupal Asia Pacific Conference) and Project Pier (open source project management and community system) and then sharing villager tactics during Werewolf.

Laim Hodge (Nick Hodge jnr) talking about Anonymous. I was really curious to find out some more information about Anonymous.

I have to admit, I only found out about them for the first time in January when the Chanology Project launched:

Laim said that he is a member of Anonymous (yes, you can be known and unknown at the same time). He explained that Anonymous began in Japan with the chan image sites (and have grown to English sites such as 4Chan and 7Chan and so on). [Warning, there are no restrictions on what is posted and you may need to clear your cache afterwards.] Anonymous has at least 20,000 members worldwide and is not governed by any leaders. There have been many events undertaken by members that are not accepted by the others, but there is no control or repurcussions within the community. Fox News did a report on Anonymous after Anonymous accessed Fox’s ftp site and changed the file names to those of a song.

And then Anonymous apparently posted a response (which it should be noted is authored by an individual or a small group — Anonymous does not speak as one voice):

Many members of anon and non members of anon (!) have also posted their extreme views on the Foxx11 report:

Haha! I couldn’t help myself.

The BCS Anonymous member explained that some of the events mentioned in the Fox11 report were not the work of Anonymous, some were denounced internally and others were just for laughs. Well, it was no surprise to find out that the main demographic of Anonymous is high-school male geeks (ITers). Project Chanology seems to be the only project they’ve done that attempts to do some good. It seems such a waste to have all these skills and dispersed power being used on destructive activities. I cannot help but juxtapose ARGers with Anonymous: both have alot of Net skills and are quite cyberculture literate, yet ARGers channel their skills in a more creative direction than Anonymous, whereas ARGers are perhaps not as proactive as Anonymous; ARGers have a strong sense of community whereas Anonymous are unified by their anonymity…I think perhaps it is an unfair juxtaposition but I find it interesting culturally nevertheless.

One thing I want to add to my comments about Liam’s presentation is his attitude. I spoke with Liam afterwards and he was sincerely interested if he got his message across. I believe he got up again on the second day and attempted to improve on his previous presentation. I just love that: being sincerely interested in getting your message across and improving yourself over and over again to make sure that happens. Impressive life skill to have so young Liam. Good on ya.

On that note, I did a quick presentation (with no prep) to get a t-shirt and some feedback. My talk was crap, but I’m not bothered. I learnt more about how tech people think and I was reminded of a lesson I’ve had the opportunity to learn over and over again (that is the funny thing about experience, it takes time to develop). The lesson I allude to is the need to start right from the beginning when explaining a problem or solution to something. I often presume some degree of shared knowledge or understanding and jump straight to a middle or end thought. In my experience, this approach has never, ever, worked! Start from step (A) always, but you can vary how long you take to get from (A) to (Z).

Back to BCS3. I also enjoyed Brett Welch’s talk about how GoodBarry has faired since the last BarCampSydney. GoodBarry is an integrated system for running an online business. It is pretty cool the way it bundles together website management, customer database, web analytics and customer profiling. Brett’s ‘5 Lessons in 5 Months’:

      1. Advertising is useful but measure it carefully.
      2. Leverage PR around (before, during and after) your tech releases.
      3. Take a punt on marketing.
      4. Make mistakes properly.
      5. Everything takes longer than you think.
      Bonus: Be UnConventional. Unlike some tech businesses, they’ve created a ‘storybook‘ to share the beginning of GoodBarry. (See below)

Now, the lessons Brett has learnt are nothing new, but what I appreciated was his desire to share these lessons. As with previous BarCampSydney’s, the discussion after Brett’s talk started to move into general entrepeneur discussions with Mike of Atlassian throwing in some gems. However, the conversation was cut short to keep to the alloted time. This is something I’d recommend to change as the entrepeneurship sessions are great discussions (and since they even ran into 2 hour sessions at the last BarCampSydneys we had decided to put a longer dedicated session.) Unfortunately this lesson didn’t rollover into BCS3, but maybe the next one.

Speaking of Atlassian, I just peaked again at Mike’s blog and saw their recently articulated company values. Very nice.

  • Open company. No bullshit.
  • Build with heart and balance.
  • Don’t fuck the customer.
  • Play, as a team.
  • Be the change you seek.

In terms of the BCS (un)organisation. The Great stuff:

  • Ideal new venue (finally!)
  • Timekeepers who told you what is happening in the other rooms so you could choose where to go
  • Alison R’s great idea of the Geek-i-odic Table of Elements (you put your elemental abbreviation on your name tag)
  • Great breakout room
  • Great to have a free meal! and drinks (thanks to Atlassian for the drinkies and Tangler for putting towards the din dins)
  • BCS tweets
  • Playing Werewolf for hours was the best! (Thanks Mike!)

Stuff to change?:

  • In the previous BCS (do I sound like an old fart? “back in my day!”), we made sure in blog posts and on the day that everyone knew what BCS was about and primed with the spirit. I missed the intro session at BCS3 so this may have been covered.
  • Although the t-shirt for presenters-only was a good incentive (I did a random talk to get one), it would of been nice to just have a t-shirt. There wasn’t any problem getting people to present in the last BCSs, but maybe it encouraged newbies. I don’t know, from what I saw the majority of presentations were prepared in some manner.
  • A dedicated long entrepeneur discussion session (as well as the pitch session)
  • We tried to arrange podcasts of the talks last time (Nick Hodge did some in the first BCS), but it never happened. Hope it will happen sometime.
  • One thing I requested and so I’m not sure if anyone else wants it, is a way to know the handles and avatars of the people there. I know most people that way and would of loved to have been able to track them down (through a board perhaps where people bring their own avatar print out or something?). They did run a speed networking session which was very popular I believe.
  • Mick came up with the great idea of a sausage sizzle for lunch (though they had free pizzas on Sunday, supplied by acidlabs)

Speaking of Mick. It was fab to catch up with Mick and find out about his great new business: Pollenizer. He and Phil are a start-up swat team that come into a business and help solve problems etc. Fab stuff.

Well, that is it for another few months of BCS. I had a great time. Congrats to the unorganisers, sponsors and participants…and I can’t believe I missed the paper plane session:

Oh yeah — postscript — to all those who were friendly, interesting, intelligent, helpful, generous, curious, funny and brave @ BCS3: