Getting Back in the Groove with BarCamp Vancouver

Vancouver Barcamp
It’s been a while since I’ve writ­ten here, so try­ing to get caught up seems counter-pro­duc­tive. Nev­er­the­less, 2 wed­dings and 3 plane jour­neys through the US, a cou­ple of pic­nics and par­ties lat­er, we find our­selves fac­ing the end of August, and hence, the end of the near par­adise that Sum­mer brings to Vancouver.

Yes­ter­day, how­ev­er I did some­thing that felt very ‘Win­ter Van­cou­ver’ (i,e. the more intel­lec­tu­al and indoor-cen­tric side of the city that arrives soon), despite the con­tin­ued ‘Sum­mer Per­son­al­i­ty’ that the city still is inhab­it­ing. I attend­ed Bar­Camp Van­cou­ver, which is:

…an ad-hoc un-con­fer­ence born from the desire for peo­ple to share and learn in an open envi­ron­ment. It is an intense event with dis­cus­sions, demos and inter­ac­tion from atten­dees. All atten­dees must give a demo, a ses­sion, or help with one. All pre­sen­tions are sched­uled the day they hap­pen. Pre­pare in advance, but come ear­ly to get a slot on the wall. Pre­sen­ters are respon­si­ble for mak­ing sure that notes/slides/audio/video of their pre­sen­ta­tions are pub­lished on the web for the ben­e­fit of all and those who can’t be present. Any­one with some­thing to con­tribute or with the desire to learn is wel­come and invit­ed to join.

The way I’d describe it was tak­ing a day-long soak in Smart­ness. As Robert Scales, the Pres­i­dent of RainCi­ty Stu­dios put it dur­ing the first 30-minute ses­sion of the day: “Every­one is an expert in some­thing.” He was talk­ing about how there’s a rich tech ecosys­tem with­in the local area that he can take advan­tage of, both as an employ­er and a refer­rer for work. This cre­do also worked well to describe the day: 30 min­utes at a time with an expert in top­ics that ranged from:

  • Open Source Busi­ness Devel­op­ment (essen­tial­ly, what hap­pens when a software/web com­pa­ny that works with free soft­ware decides to be com­plete­ly trans­par­ent to their clients and every­one else about how much they earn and what they spend mon­ey on)
  • Pre­dic­tion Mar­kets and how you can use them
  • Djan­go (a Python-based web appli­ca­tion framework)
  • Ajax on Rails (real­ly a more elab­o­rate and excit­ing Ruby on Rails demo — which is an incred­i­bly pow­er­ful sys­tem for cre­at­ing inter­ac­tive web sites quickly)
  • Movie or Videogame, a dis­cus­sion of the cross-influ­ences between these two medi­ums and how the ele­ment of Mon­tage is being attacked by the dig­i­tal video revolution)
  • Brain Opti­miz­ing, or recent sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies about how our brains work best
  • Pre­sen­ta­tion, Style and Audi­ence (which offered 7 bril­liant points for putting togeth­er a good presentation)
  • The CBC and it’s Man­date for Cana­da (as well has what more we want­ed from it as we chat­ted with Pod­cast­er and CBC insid­er Tod Maf­fin)
  • Music Social Net­works, which showed how the Project Opus web site mor­phed into a set of ser­vices for peo­ple to share pop­u­lar music

If you’re like me, and often check the links on the Social Tag­ging and Book­mark­ing net­work, this was like a set of these links (inter­est­ing things that often appeal to geeks like me) turned into live pre­sen­ta­tions by peo­ple who cared deeply about them. The result was an intense (and even­tu­al­ly exhaust­ing), whirl­wind of pre­sen­ta­tions, demos and dis­cus­sions, from 9 to 5 on a beau­ti­ful Sum­mer day, for­tu­nate­ly in a great place with a view (Work­Place, a bril­liant­ly designed and exe­cut­ed cross between a café and rentable office space) in Gas­town fac­ing the water and the moun­tains. As fer­ries, heli­copters and sea­planes tra­versed the panora­ma in the back win­dows of the room, we took part in live­ly dis­cus­sions of tech­nol­o­gy, trends, busi­ness ideas and new direc­tions and exper­i­ments in the arts. In a way, it remind­ed me a lot of North­ern Voice, a blog­ging con­fer­ence I attend­ed in Feb­ru­ary of this year. While I did not present any­thing this time, I can fore­see a day when I’ll be able to lead a ses­sion in some­thing next time. I’ll aspire to the lev­el of most of these pre­sen­ters, all who indeed were experts, or at least knew a ton more than I did of the top­ics they cov­ered. Inci­den­tal­ly, the top­ics I caught were only a frac­tion of what got atten­tion. Here’s a full list of top­ics on the Bar­Camp wiki.

It’s now Sun­day, and I’m still digest­ing all of the infor­ma­tion of the past 24 hours or so. Hope­ful­ly I’ll get a chance to tran­scribe the 20 or so pages of notes I took in my Mole­sk­ine before some of the infor­ma­tion these notes are based on begins to fade.

4 Replies to “Getting Back in the Groove with BarCamp Vancouver”

  1. You’re wel­come, David. It’s a shame I caught your pre­sen­ta­tion near the end when my brain was near­ly burst­ing, but it was a good demo and very engross­ing despite my fatigue.

    Good to meet you too, and the best of luck with your ven­ture. I won­der if folks like me who lis­ten to Clas­si­cal Music will ever have any­thing like this. We don’t care as much about artists. It’s the com­posers and pieces we con­cen­trate on. (I know, there aren’t many of us, and some­times it feels like we live on a dif­fer­ent plan­et entirely).

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