Barcamp London


Let me preface this by saying that I enjoyed the weekend and would like to thank the organizers for making this happen. :)

Looking over the reports of the last days of Barcamp, I notice some things popping up more than usual

  • the usual topic of lack of women on such events
  • the amount of user interface designers and flashers
  • I am not a werewolf or I want to jot down a list of things to actually read out at the beginning of such events to have a consistent knowledge of the rules
  • and last but not least: marketers are not evil and programmers are not gods

As you may have read by now Barcamp London happened with great support through Yahoo as in being there with space – a lot of space – even though we could not have all in there who wanted to be in there. And of course those other sponsor (list lifted from Riaz)

  • Yahoo! UK, venue and connectivity!
  • eBay, Saturday lunch
  • Yahoo! UK, Saturday dinner + beers!
  • and, Sunday breakfast and Sunday lunch!
  • TechCrunch, drinks and snacks for the event!
  • Chinwag, sponsoring event t-shirts!
  • Belkin, power and network equipment

Oh yeah: Special greetings to the idiots who signed up, saw the long waiting list and did not show up in the end. Your place could have gone to somebody who actually wanted to go.

I did mention Yahoo especially, because it is the third time I see them as a supporter – they where great participants at Barcamp LA also and a sponsor of Blogher.

At both Barcamps, the support was not only in material things like venue or financial support, but actually people from yahoo showed up and participated.

Note: Yahoo Werewolfe players are the most evil ones if they come disguised as helpers ….

But back to this Barcamp.

Developper focus is something which was – for my taste – a bit too much. For example driven by Ben Metcalfe who “disturbed” the talking crowd to force them to do mash pits – when most of the people just where waiting to play Werewolf. ;)

It may be a good idea to call it DevBarcamp if you really want this to be programmer centric but if you don’t say so, people will show up for more than just the programmer centric topics.

In this regard I would like to ask if those flash people actually counted for programming or not? *gd&r*

Again, of course, there were only few women although I found there where quite a lot. Until I started counting from memory – naa, not that many. We had a longer discussion about this and especially Ian was very keen how to make this work for women.

Without falling for the “let’s get women in here just for the sake of it”. To which I agree totally. We can start passing on those messages to our networks and it may even be a cool idea to add to such a Barcamp description a bit more information for example about the camping part. (This Barcamp started out with having a boys / girls room but ended up with having a snorrer / non snorring separation.)

But in general I think we someday have to draw the line. I refuse to run after women all the time just to get them to such meetings if they dont also at least voice their opinions on why they did not come or where not feeling like coming. You cant complain about the cake but eat it too.

Sarah Blow voices some similar thoughts (though ‘nicer’). One thing struck me though:

Something that became very clear at BarCamp is that women don’t want to be treated like a special case, a bit like I don’t like to be treated as a special case for being lactose intolerant when I go out to dinner. This is why I am asking what it is that would make women more interested in the events and conferences. I am sure there is something that we are missing.

Could it be that we (=attending such conferences) don’t care about the extra treatment but the ones who do not come do?

In the comments, Leisa Reichelt asks if it could be that bloggers are quicker informed than others. Others in this regard must be women? Women are bloggers too and tools exist to help you find out about such events. Leisa has another post on the womanish topic as well.

One for example for staying informed is on which I encourage you to have a look at European New Media Conferences. Or others. And please contribute and make organizers contribute to such systems – it helps get the word out and helps aggregating such information.

Back to Barcamp.

I would have liked to see more people use up the wiki to add information about what they might want to present or not, I thought that gave a good overview on other Barcamps. I also would like if people added a way to find them or get in contact with them – I said it before: I do not just want to write on a blog a comment like “hei would like to mail you” just because no contact information is available.

On the organization side it would have been clever to not send us to two closed pubs on sunday afternoon. ;) if it would not have been for the PAPER business cards, we would have been stranded. ;)

Second would be food: It makes sense to think about it before and order food which may perhaps not be as great and nice but is easy to give away afterwards to a local shelter. It may be everything eaten up, but have a number handy to call and perhaps check before what requirements are.

Food leads to sponsoring: I dont mind clever sponsoring and I dont mind the sight of a name of a company to be seen on the food table. Especially not if it leads to so nice puns like “hmm ebay sponsoring the food – second hand lunch?”.

To sum it up: I enjoyed my trip to London, especially with the Geek Dinner the day before. Note to other organizer please try to think about ‘outsiders’ of London at such events too ;).

I met a lot of new people who I hope to stay in contact with, heard some new voices and got exposed to the thought that Flash programmers might actually be interested in Usability. That one still boggles my mind. ;)

I will be very disapoointed to miss Barcamp Berlin – which is going to be so cool – but I am busy meeting all my podcasting friends from the US in Ontario.

Hm. We will see if I can get them to play Werewolve. :)

(sorry, dreamhost was having problems that is why the double posting and such)
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One Response to “Barcamp London”

  1. Great to read your summary. Glad it went as well as it did. Take care, hope you are well!