Christopher tm Herdt (cherdt) wrote,
Christopher tm Herdt

BarCamp Philly

Today I attended BarCamp Philly, held at UArts. It's a series of conference sessions created by the participants, some more ad hoc than others, primarily about technology and the web. When I arrived this morning, people started filling in session names on 5"x7" cards on the schedule pinboard: basically, if you wanted to run a session, you just had to get there before all the slots filled up. (Some later slots, like 6 P.M. slots, never quite filled up.)

I briefly considered holding a session on collaborative writing (i.e. fiction) projects in one of the empty slots, since I saw there was another session on NaNoWriMo, but I either chickened out or correctly anticipated my future lack of energy, however you want to look at it.

Some described it as a sort of un-conference, which made me wary: I've attended unconferences before and found that the lack of structure means a lack of direction: after an hour, the group finally figures out what they want to talk about, and then the session is over. But BarCamp Philly seemed very on-the-ball: organized, a good web site, and lots of chatter on twitter preceding the "sold-out" event (it was free, but limited to 200 participants).

Sessions I attended:
  • Web 2.0 and Higher Education (this was a mostly lame discussion of whether or not colleges should actively troll Facebook)
  • Perfect Pitch - Telling Your Story (about generating publicity for your company/project)
  • Web Standards (not about standards themselves, but about how to get buy-in and later enforce web standards)
  • Usability Testing (w/s/g anti-usability advocate)
  • Re-thinking .edu (mostly about technology in higher ed should come from the bottom-up, rather than top-down)

Some sessions were naturally better than others. I'm disappointed that I went to the first session, which was a real bust in my mind, when I could have caught Aaron Held's session on what it's like to run the portal (with upwards of 40MM daily pageviews). Live and (slowly) learn: I don't think I've every been to a satisfying session with "web 2.0" in the title.

I ran into several people that I know through work and school. I talked to some cool new people, but also listened to a lot of lame ones. I'm afraid I mentioned the latter to one of the former, who may have thought I was insulting him. I need to do better to quash (or at least delay) my negativity and criticisms.

There's an after-party at National Mechanics this evening, though I'm not sure if I'll attend. I'm up for beer, but networking does not come naturally to me, especially with people who like looking at their iPhones more than they like talking to human beings.


The shin-dig at National Mechanics was excellent. We bought some food, some drinks, and then I talked to a guy I met earlier in the day while well_lahdidah played Rock Band on a huge projection screen with other conference attendees.

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