Barcamp melbourne 2012 thoughts

Had a great time at Barcamp Melbourne on this weekend.

The last time the event had been held in Melbourne was in 2009. Three years latter, it is great to come back to this great place, and many of the people from the last event as well. Being able to “get my geek on” is beneficial for my creative coding motivation, on top of meeting  people of a wide variety of fields and interests.

Barcamp Melbourne’s own website has a much better description of what it is which I recommend you read here. To summarize, it is an “Unconference”. It is intentionally unorganized, with people attending encouraged to talk about their hobby or project. You could liken it to a grown up’s version of show and tell, however it goes deeper than that. Being aware of others during the event is important, which avoids the stale feeling you have going to sponsored or “sit and listen” events and seminars. The collective consciousness of learning off each other among with being active participants in any way possible makes you much more receptive in my opinion to retain that actual data.

I gave a talk!

In spirit of the event and knowing how it runs in the past, I had plenty of time to organize a talk. While I won’t go much into my talk as I feel it deserves it’s own post, it was titled “I came here for an Argument”, and the slides are available in ODP format here (it was made in Libreoffice Impress). Reception of the talk appeared to be great, with a compliments and appreciative comments from people during Barcamp’s two days. It was an exciting (and exhaustive) process, but I felt awesome after doing it.

Read on for my photos of the event as well as more photos taken.

Thoughts about the event

A wave of nostalgia hit me walking back into the venue, but I didn’t have time to think too much about that – I was busy saying hello to new and previous fellow programmers and Barcampians. The previous sentence gave me grief, as I am not sure what title suits everyone who went to barcamp? Geeks although good and without the negative stigma of a Nerd does not give me a good description of how they are as well. Friendly, helpful and with great stories and hobbies to learn about. Hence, I’m coining Barcampian’s for this short writeup.

Surprisingly there was no recording of this event for both audio and visuals. In the past, these events have been recorded for latter viewing and sometimes streamed live. At first I thought that this is a mistake  – How am I supposed to watch the video latter on? What if I want to brag about what I’ve seen to friends latter on?

After thinking about it, I feel this was a smart move. The time spent was spent instead on running the event with what appears to be less headaches for the organizers. This made for a happy team and it shown with us in the crowd too! It also may help first time talkers to have a bit more confidence and less fear if they know about this in advance.

Times have also changes since the last Barcamp as well. Twitter is very much at the forefront of most users present there, with heavy users of the medium tweeting photos and key points from talks. Also funny quotes. It’s also exciting to see your own talk be tweeted and retweeted by others!

The other minor note is that this time there were not many lightning talks. A lightning talk is Like a baby version of a longer talk. However the content can be just as insightful as a full length one. Topics this year included Lan party games, My own one titled “the future of titles in video”, and a very funny one on the effectiveness of Tinfoil hats. I love being able to sit back and enjoy this part of the event and felt the slight shortage of them left me wanting more. A suggestion could be to detail more about what a lightning talk is, as well as encourage people prior to the event to give one to let their creative juices flow through to the event. For some first timers to the event, It may be daunting to try and think of a small talk on the spot, and any way we can help that should be encouraged to help foster the variety and fun talks we enjoy now.

I was reminded of the old it’s a a small world quote early on the way to the event. On attempting to catch an early train and miss it, I traveled up instead another way into Melbourne. I had originally planned to meet a few other people also going to Barcamp (the community and atmosphere at this event is encouraged to help each other, from helping setting talks to lifting things), Although I would not have made it into the station to see them now. In the end, traveling nearly directly saved me time, with me being in a tram carriage next to them, hopping on it one stop after they both had boarded! During the event, many faces who I have seen from LCA, Barcamp or other meetups were also present and as friendly as ever. I do wish I had a stronger name retention memory, as all of them more than deserve having a name attached to their faces.

Photo fun

An idea of the space. We had three possible rooms for talks. This is the largest one and was taken as people were arriving and registring. A twitter wall on the middle left is visible showing tweets using the assigned social media hashtag of #BCM2012.
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Not pictured is the two other smaller rooms, along with dormitories for accommodation.

Kathy’s talk on Lilypad and finding implementations of bringing arduinos to a worn state runs parallels with integrated computing, which is always fascinating to me to see how much progress is made in this area.
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Melbourne hackerspace members were also in attendance, with their vast array of friendly knowledge and hardware gadgets and tools around.

For example this Array of LED’s looks fantastic in person as well as when photographed:
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I have taken photos of both of the days I was there, and they are available under a Creative Commons licence on flickr.

Overall, I loved Barcamp Melbourne 2012, and feel that you will probably like it too – even if your interest in computers is of passing interest.