rococo & barcamp

by Hugh

screw it, I’ve been humming about this post for a while, so I’m just going to sketch it out here.

Barcamp, Boys and Girls
I wanted to address Martine’s great talk on women at conferences, and I have a few comments:

  • remember that barcamp is different from other conferences in that no one really gets invited to attend or speak – it’s free, everyone should come.
  • 50% of the human species is female; the other 50% is male … so whatever you are doing, on the net or elsewhere, it’s worthwhile to remember that 50% of people that might use the thing you are building will be of a sex different than your own. So getting their input is of great value.
  • in the context of barcamp at least, this isn’t anyone’s “fault” … not the boys, not the girls. the important thing (if you think it’s important) is that we (all of us) do what we can to attract interesting people who can contribute interesting things to barcamps and similar events. so don’t worry so much about why things are not as good as they could be, think rather about how they might be better, and act to make them so.

Barcamp, in general

For barcamp to be useful we need to attract interesting people to talk about different things. Everyone’s new web 2.0 social network is all fine and dandy, but that fixes a low bar on level of discourse. So the challenge I put out to all you naysayers, is come along, and bring someone who has something interesting to say on topics other than what we’ve seen so far. While the travel talk was interesting, I think it should all relate back to technology one way or another. Let’s get openmedicine.ca to talk about medicine, the web, and the open movement. Or, Thomas Homer-Dixon to come talk about the major challenges he sees humanity facing, and start a conversation about how we community-minded geeks might start addressing some of these major problems. Let’s invite people from political parties, and have a discussion about how the web can positively impact the democratic process, and some small projects that might be undertaken in that direction. Or, some teachers working with kids and blogs/podcasts/video. Or get Tracey or Daniel or Mike or Jon Udell or Hans Rossling (hell, I’ll even talk about it…in fact I will) to muse on open access to government data, and how citizens might start using that data. Etc.

That is, let’s not let barcamp become “your social web application camp.” Let’s make it something much more.

Rococo Camp
I have a little less to say about Rococo camp, since I missed much of it (see here for a good run-down). I was there Friday, but had another engagement all of Saturday, and by the time Sunday came around I was out of it. But I enjoyed the Open Agenda/Spaces concept (though there seemed to be too much yakking in the morning about Open Spaces, and not enough actual jazzing on topics). I had some great talks about semantic web & wikis, as well as the always-delicate issue of community building & difficult people (something we’ve been very successful dealing with at LibriVox). One person came my discussion of Data & Evolution, but we had a good chat.

Another semi-aside, to all wiki-enthusiasts: wikis are ugly and hard to read to most eyeballs, and if you want non-wiki people to come to your events, you need to at the very least have a web presence that is legible to non-wikiers.

But all in all, Evan and gang did a great job (bagels were good).