Our Take on Barcamps

The concept of a BarCamp: it is a group of people coming together to discuss a variety of topics that interest them.

However, the way it is run is unique.

BarCamp usually involves a series of free flowing, participant led discussions in an unstructured format over a day or weekend. It is often referred to as an ‘unconference’ as it doesn’t necessarily follow the formal structure of a normal conference.

For Gold Coast Barcamps, a basic structure is set at the start of the day: a sequence of talks in various nearby locations, but this often changes as the day progresses.

A common sequence is:

  1. Formal welcome, brief explanation, acknowledge sponsors
  2. Speed networking
  3. Start into the sessions, the topics of which participants have put up on a board
  4. Break for lunch, and informal networking
  5. More participant-led sessions
  6. Any prizegiving/giveways at the end

The event is free and is often sponsored by businesses to provide the venue and refreshments.

BarCamps originally focussed around information technology. However for Gold Coast Barcamps we try to encourage a broader range of topics. Anyone can attend BarCamp and we try to attract as wide a range of participants as possible.

There are a few “rules” of Barcamps:

1. “No spectators – only participants”. Everyone is encouraged to participate in one way or another. Most attendees should nominate to present a short talk on a topic of their choice. Generally talks are kept to a timeframe – often 10 or 20 minutes – and there can be several talks going at once in different rooms at the venue. Often one talk can lead to someone else putting their name down to do a talk on a related topic later in a later session. See The Rules of Barcamp for more.

Talks can include a short slideshow presentation allowing plenty of time for questions and discussions, or can be entirely informal and interactive. Presenters can talk about anything they like. They could talk about their pet topic, show a gizmo or their latest project, discuss a new technology, or trend or any number of other subjects that may take their fancy.

Presenting is also a great way to hone a talk for a conference, or to help decide whether to pursue creating and article or movie, etc, or submit a paper to a journal. As long as someone is there to listen, presenters can talk about whatever they like.

BarCamps also have a specific focus on networking. They can be a catalyst for new ideas and are a great avenue for connecting people with business partners, sponsors, jobs and other likeminded individuals.

BarCamps have been running for a number of years and are now held regularly around the world. Promotion is generally via word of mouth and social media. To keep up to date on BarCamps around South-East Queensland, visit www.meetup.com/barcampqld.

Come along to the next one and discover the BarCamp experience for yourself.

(More: Barcamp on wikipedia)