My BarCamp Wrap-Up

BarCamp Underway on October 3, 2009 - Photo by Gus Fosarolli

Bar­Camp Under­way on Octo­ber 3, 2009 — Pho­to by Gus Fos­arol­li

It takes some time to digest a Bar­Camp. For me, it was about 3 to 5 pre­sen­ta­tions and dis­cus­sions, pep­pered with 10–20 great con­ver­sa­tions, sprin­kled with a half a dozen reunions and many oth­er new intro­duc­tions. It also had a cou­ple sur­pris­es: some of the ses­sions I thought were going to take place were can­celled (usu­al­ly at the deci­sion of the presenters/attendees), but on the oth­er hand, some that I hadn’t known about were announced in the morn­ing. David Saslav’s remote ses­sion regard­ing Cho­rus America’s study on the effects of Choral Singing on School­child­ren and Adults did take place, and came off very well, despite the fact that he was pre­sent­ing from his home in San Fran­cis­co via Skype video. I attend­ed two dif­fer­ent design work­shops. In one, I col­lab­o­rat­ed with a group (1 among sev­er­al oth­ers) in a ‘Design Char­rette’  to work on the prob­lem of traf­fic acci­dents along the stretch of East Hast­ings as it cuts through the Down­town East Side of Van­cou­ver. I also par­tic­i­pat­ed in J. Karen Parker’s ses­sion on Paper pro­to­typ­ing, where I noticed a pre­pon­der­ance of  touch­screen solu­tions to every­day gad­gets, appli­ances and obsta­cles (like dig­i­tal cam­eras, microwave ovens, and sky­train tick­et dis­pensers). What the iPhone hath wrought! While I think our UI sug­ges­tions to improve the tick­et dis­pens­ing prob­lems was pret­ty good, I real­ly loved anoth­er group’s solu­tion to a microwave: make the whole oven front a large touch­screen, with a large cir­cu­lar slider/indicator, through which you can see your food cook­ing. As Karen not­ed, in this day and age where the com­pet­i­tive advan­tages of good design can some­times get you ahead in the mar­ket­place, a real­ly snazzy microwave touch-screen con­trol might be some­thing they should look at!

I also got to a ses­sion on Day Trad­ing using a com­bi­na­tion of  com­put­er soft­ware, twit­ter, and some knowl­edge about how peo­ple behave. I can’t say that I’ll be doing much of that soon, but it was real­ly intrigu­ing to hear how some are doing it these days. Anoth­er ses­sion involved a more com­mon top­ic: Hap­pi­ness. Here, Inter­net Mar­keter Ray Kanani asked some pro­vok­ing ques­tions about what makes us hap­py, and how adver­tis­ers try to sub­vert and direct our desires.  Far from being a loose and vague ses­sion, it end­ed up being an intense dis­cus­sion about what each of us is look­ing for in life, and whether we could ben­e­fit from being hope­ful, sat­is­fied, cyn­i­cal or none of the above. We could have eas­i­ly tak­en twice the ses­sion to exam­ine the sub­ject, and I almost think there should be a Hap­pi­ness­Camp about all of the var­i­ous facets of the sub­ject (attend­ed by, wait for it…Happy Campers!)

Final­ly, a ses­sion near the mid­dle of the day was one of the ones I was in fact wait­ing for; an update and con­ver­sa­tion, led by Boris Mann (one of Vancouver’s most well-con­nect­ed and influ­en­tial techies), about the var­i­ous new venues and offered resources in town that are jump­ing in to fill the void left by the demise of Work­Space. Roland Tanglao, record­ed the ses­sion, so I was able to lis­ten to it once more to make sure I got all of the 45 min­utes of sub­jects and places men­tioned by the large gath­er­ing of con­cerned peo­ple.

I’m hap­py to say that for me, at least, the day seemed to go smooth­ly, the sched­ule and pac­ing seemed to work well, lunch was tasty (and there was enough food and cof­fee), the Dis­cov­ery Parks venue was excel­lent, and there was a notice­able ‘good vibe’ about the day. I believe that the many ‘first time’ Bar­Camp atten­dees prob­a­bly got a good intro­duc­tion to this very spe­cial meet­ing of minds.  I’m now proud to say I con­sid­er myself a vet­er­an of Bar­Camp, and I’m even more proud to have been able to work with such a great group of vol­un­teers this year. They  helped plan, run and man­age the event, which was a suc­cess in many ways.

Update: Check out this awe­some Bar­Camp com­ic, cre­at­ed from pho­tos tak­en that day.

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