unconference

BarCamp Seattle

seattle barcamp

This weekend, I’ll be in Seattle for BarCamp as part of the BarCamp tour, a cross-North-America sponsorship put together by five startups: Batchblue, Grasshopper, MailChimp, Wufoo and the company for whom I am representative, Shopify.

BarCamp is an unconference – a gathering that turns the traditional notion of a “conference” upside-down. Rather than the content being determined by its organizers, it’s determined by the attendees. At the start of the conference, any attendee can propose a session topic, and if it’s accepted by the group, that session gets put on the schedule grid and assigned a time slot and a room. Sessions themselves are somewhat different from sessions at a traditional conference: while there’s still roles akin to a “presenter” or “presenters” and an “audience”, the line between the two is considerably more fuzzy. They’re closer in spirit to open discussions rather than lectures.

barcamp-tour-logo

BarCamp Tour are not your typical sponsors. Just as BarCamp is an unconference that turns the notion of a conference upside-down, you might say that we’re “unsponsors” doing the same to what is traditionally viewed as sponsorship. Yes, we provide funding to various BarCamps, but we do something that most sponsors don’t do: we show up and participate. We help out the organizers with everything from putting together parties to helping move furniture and clean up. We take part in the sessions, sometimes as participants in the “audience”, sometimes as “presenters”. While we do promote our companies, it’s not in a hard-sell way, and often, we do it by listening to and learning from the people there – after all, they’re potential customers, partners and even hires.

BarCamp Seattle takes place this weekend on Saturday, June 24th and Sunday June 25th at the Adobe Conference Center in Seattle’s Fremont neighbourhood (801 N 34th Street). Saturday is a full day with check-in starting at 8:00 a.m. and the unconference kicking into full swing at 9:00 a.m.; Sunday is a half day with check-in starting around 8:00 a.m. (emphasis on around; there’s a party on Saturday night) and the unconference resuming at 9:00 a.m..

BarCamp Seattle, like all BarCamps, is free but you need to register. To register, visit BarCamp Seattle’s EventBrite page.

BarCamp New Orleans

barcamp new orleans

My next BarCamp will be BarCamp New Orleans, also known as BarCamp NOLA. I’m rather looking forward to this one for a few reasons:

BarCamp New Orleans takes place on Saturday, July 16th and Sunday, July 17th at the Launch Pad coworking/startup space (643 Magazine Street, Suite 102). Registration on the Saturday is at a very civilized 9:30 a.m. with the unconference getting into full swing at 10:00 a.m. and running until 5:00 p.m.. Sunday is a “Hack Day” with registration at 9:30 a.m., start at 10:00 a.m. and running until 5:00 p.m..

Like all BarCamps, BarCamp New Orleans is free but you need to register. You should register soon – only 76 spaces remain as of this writing!

BarCamp Toronto

barcamp-toronto-anyone

A couple of weeks ago, I put out the call for help in getting together a BarCamp in Accordion City. We haven’t had one in four years and I think it’s about time! The other folks on the BarCamp Tour, most notably Jonathan Kay of Grasshopper who absolutely loves “Toe-RON-toe”, have expressed interest in having one in Canada and are willing to be a sponsor.

A great collection of people have stepped forward and volunteered to help. I’ll be meeting with them online very shortly (I’m in Ottawa for the summer, but I return to Accordion City in the fall) to discuss what happens next, but know this: the first step toward bringing BarCamp back to Toronto has been made.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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BarCamp Portland: May 20 – 21

by Joey deVilla on May 17, 2011

BarCamp Portland is This Weekend!

BarCamp Portland logo

If you’re in the mood for some geeky activity this weekend in the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon, you’ll want to hit BarCamp Portland 5! It’s taking place this weekend at the Eliot Center (1226 SW Salmon Street)…

Eliot Center, as seen from the street

…on these days:

  • Friday, May 20th: The Opening Social, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and runs until 9:00 p.m.. The idea behind this evening is to get everyone primed for the main event on the following day.
  • Saturday, May 21st: The Main Event: the actual unconference, with the big scheduling scrum happening at 9:00 a.m. and the sessions running from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m..

The BarCamp Tour

I’ll be there, because I’m representing Shopify, one of five startups that make up the…

Barcamp tour logo

…BarCamp Tour! Along with our friends BatchBlue, Grasshopper, Mailchimp and Wufoo, we’re sponsoring BarCamps across North America, and not in the typical way, either! Yes, we’re each throwing in money to help BarCamp organizers hold their events, but we’re also there at the conference, actively participating, joining in the discussions, providing food and drinks, and even helping carry stuff or clean up. We’re also there to promote our companies, but not in a hard-sell way — we’re there to meet people who want to use our software and services, have questions and get to know the creative, inventive, ambitious people who attend BarCamps!

Register!

Register! (Finger pressing space bar on a computer keyboard)

Best of all, BarCamp is free-as-in-beer to attend. That’s right, it’ll cost you no money to come and participate. We do ask that you register at BarCamp Portland 5’s EventBrite page, and if you do fee like throwing in a little money to help cover the costs, you can do that too.

What is BarCamp?

BarCamp is an unconference: a gathering that turns the usual notion of a conference on its ear. There is no set agenda, no topics are pre-set and no speakers are pre-ordained: you, the attendees determine all that! On the start of the unconference day, people will propose session topics and set up a schedule, after which the unconferencing will begin. We’re expecting geeks of every sort to show up: not just the hackers, but artists, engineers, hobbyists, writers and poets, jokers and journalists, entrepreneurs, cooks and bakers, people who till the land or help neighbourhoods take shape, and anyone else who likes create.

As the BarCamp Portland site puts it:

Bring a demo or an idea and you will find people to talk about it with, but think of it less as a presentation and more as a conversation. Rest assured that you will exchange a lot of knowledge about your topic and many others with a lot of interesting people and come away thinking big thoughts.

If you’d like to get a little more background about the origins of BarCamp, check out an article of mine from 2006 titled BarCamp Explained. You might also want to watch the BarCamp San Francisco 2006 video below  to get a feel for what BarCamps are like (note: some salty language at the end; it might not be suitable for your workplace):

See you at BarCamp!

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Where to Stay in Minneapolis (May 6th–8th)?

by Joey deVilla on April 18, 2011

minneapolisCreative Commons photo courtesy of Sri Dhanush.

I’m helping out with BarCamp Minneapolis, a.k.a. MinneBar, which takes place on May 7th. The event takes place at Best Buy’s headquarters out in Richfield, and we out-of-towner helper-outers are staying downtown. If you know any good and reasonably-priced hotels in an interesting but not sketchy part of downtown, please let me know in the comments or drop me an email!

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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