Submitted by Michele Metts on
I attended BarCamp9 this year and had a more than wonderful time. The sessions were off the chart, everything from a Public Speaking 101 - Overview & Workshop, to a lecture on Immortality, a GNU/Linux sysadmin introduction, and a lively discussion on the state of mental health in tech, mixed in with Dating for Nerds.
First, I love the idea of the un-conference where nothing is scheduled in advance and everyone is encouraged to participate on some level. Most cons and camps I have been to are a "smash and grab" of info, BarCamp9 and the un-conference style bust that wide open in a non-intimidating way for people. The attendees I spoke to found themselves going to sessions they would never have thought to sign up for. The non-schedule atmosphere invites people to explore in a non-threatening way. This un-conference was one of the best I have been to because the organization was smooth and the volunteers made the event really personal. The sessions ranged from highly technical discussions and presentations to down to earth heartfelt meetings. One session in particular was intriguing in that it drew a capacity crowd for the room. The gender balance was pretty much 50/50 and everyone was engaged in the conversation... the topic: "Things you wish you knew earlier".
I tossed my sticky note up on the board and proceeded to do a presentation/discussion: Cooperatives and Collectives—Think Outside the Boss. A moderate sized group of people filled the room and I started the slides. When discussing the difference between a freelancer, an employee and a worker-owner, Gonzalos Chomon, a cooperative member of evovelo.com took part and gave great details of the different laws that affect European cooperatives. In Spain it seems like coops are given the benefits of the law as corporations are in the US. Twenty percent of a cooperatives earnings go into a fund to support new and growing cooperatives—this is mandatory. Sometimes the audience makes the presentation come alive! I have posted my slides.
My colleague Fernandes Paredo Garcia, of Dilygent, based in Peru, translated my presentation to Spanish and presented it at an event in Guatemala—some of the attendees started the formation of a new cooperative that night!
I would recommend that you go to the next barCamp in your area, or any un-conference near you - you might be suprised by what you find, and by what you may contribute!
Mighty thanks to all the sponsors that made this event possible http://www.barcampboston.org
Here is the schedule for Saturday and then for Sunday, eclectic or what? There should be a lot more unconferences! Agaric is working on PowerToConnect.org to facilitate conferences and events of all types—more on that later.
Note of interest: I heard in passing that the name barCamp came from a play on words in response to fooCamp, a programmers play on the term foo-bar, which is yet another play on the acronym F.U.B.A.R.