BarCamp Montreal 2 was a great success. I can’t imagine anyone thinking otherwise. And some worthwhile reviews are starting to surface.
Evan Prodromou does a good job of reviewing some of the best presentations, highlighting the positives and pointing out some of his perceived negatives as well.
Shawna Nelles had a positive experience, participating in her first BarCamp and echoes what I suspect are most people’s feelings about the importance and value of Martine Page’s talk about the lack of female speakers at conferences. It was a fairly heated, but engaging discussion that ensued, and I think this is exactly what BarCamp should be about. There should be an aspect of serious debate and discussion.
Having said that, BarCamp should also be fun. No one should walk away frustrated! And Martin Dufort of Kakiloc took care of that by organizing Powerpoint Karaoke. Funny, funny stuff.
I look forward to the next BarCamp and any other *Camp unconferences people want to put together and make happen. We’ve had a couple DemoCamps and one CaseCamp, and more such events are on the way.
Of course nothing is perfect.
Evan’s got a few “cons” he lists, and the bulk of them can be boiled down to two issues:
- Participation; and,
Lots of people give presentations – so there’s no problem of participation on that front. But I do think people like Simon Law deserve more help. Self-organizing only works if people actually step up to organize. I’ve seen what Simon and Fred (and others) put into organizing things like BarCamp and it’s not nothing. I’m as much to blame as everyone else that came and didn’t help, although I got there early to help set up.
More people have to volunteer. Simple as that. It’s not hard. Spread the word, show up a bit early, stay late if you can, and pitch in where you might be needed. I also think that more people should be involved in the organization process, to help develop and define what a Montreal BarCamp should be all about.
In terms of money, BarCamp only had a couple sponsors this time, including the SAT which donated the space. Had they not, we would be having BarCamp on the street.
Evan recognizes that things cost money – he wants coffee, tables and t-shirts (all of which would be great!) – but not enough people step up to donate money. That’s a shame. Few of us might have the capacity to donate $500-$1000+ for BarCamp, but maybe people can find other sponsors. Knock on a few doors, get your employers involved, or ask businesses to step up. There’s gotta be a computer store somewhere that’d be interested…
My key suggestion for the next BarCamp is this: reduce the number of presentations (set a limit: 15 perhaps?) and allow for more breaks. Part of what makes an event like BarCamp great is having so many interesting people in the same room, but we need more time to hang out, chat, and get into our own discussions as offshoots of the presentations. Reducing the number of presentations will also lessen the burden on organizers to keep such a fast pace. Every presentation needs to have a brief discussion after – that’s where we get the real community value.
Great job all around – kudos to the organizers, and it was great meeting and talking to everyone (that I had a chance to!) I look forward to the next BarCamp and count me in to get more involved.