My first BarCamp experience was a blast. It was held at l’Ecole de danse swing Cat’s Corner. They graciously donated their space to the event, and although we could have used a few separate conference rooms, it was a nice venue.
Really it comes down to two things: people and ideas.
What happened at BarCamp Montreal was really a sharing of both (although “sharing of people” could be construed the wrong way.)
People introduced people to other people. People connected in an extremely easygoing environment. I think that’s the key; it’s not a giant conference with thousands of people where you feel overwhelmed and can’t just walk up to others and start talking. This was intimate and open. You just sort of milled around and got into conversations.
I was surprised by the diversity. Sure, some might say it’s a “geek fest” but that’s not entirely the case. Plenty of business folk, entrepreneurs, hopeful entrepreneurs and yes, some pure, unadulterated geeks too.
I met a number of very interesting people and I plan on contacting them all in the very near future (if you’re reading this – Ed, Jonathan, Craig, Fred, Ian, Peter and Simon, that means you.) If I forgot anyone’s name, I apologize, but I’ll find you soon enough.
As for ideas … well, they were just as diverse as the people. You had Zeke talking about contemporary art, The Kokoromi Collective presented about their upcoming event, GAMMA O1. Kokoromi is all about developing experimental, artistic games. Their demo showed a game they were working on for GAMMA 01 that was completely affected by the music playing. I’m not doing it justice; just go check out their site.
Jonathan Karpfen presented his newly launched FreakJob, which is a job site that lets users rank the popularity of jobs. It’s like digg for jobs. His story about how he got a job at Airborne Entertainment was hysterical.
Evan Prodromou showed us WikiTravel which I’m going to use as much as I can for Where Is Basil? and Hugh McGuire talked about his project, LibriVox, which is attempting to audio record every book in the public domain.
There were plenty of other good presentations. I didn’t stay all day (I had to get home for my son’s 2nd-ever hair cut…it was a momentous occasion…) but I’m sure the rest of the afternoon went very well.
If I had one suggestion for next time it would be to find a way to shorten the presentations, leave more time for questions, and leave more time to let people talk amongst themselves. More space will help with that, and time management for these kinds of events is damn near impossible, but I know people wanted to connect even more. There were plenty of people I missed…next time!
I want to thank the organizers, it was definitely worthwhile. And I look forward to future BarCamps, CaseCamps, DemoCamps and hopefully a PodCamp for good measure.
And go check out all the pictures done by Simon Law.