I'm excited to attend my first BarCamp on Saturday, October 15, 2011. BarCamp is an unconference that brings together people interested in a wide range of topics and technologies. Everyone that attends has the opportunity to teach, talk, and participate.
A group of volunteers is essential to help organize the event. I learned this first-hand while helping to plan CityCamp Raleigh, another local unconference event.
Last week, I did a walk-thru with some of the organizers from BarCamp Raleigh—a sneak peek, so to speak. We evaluated the available rooms and equipment, and went over some logistical items. Red Hat has been a venue sponsor for BarCampRDU in the past, and I'm the main point of contact for the organizers this year. Which, by default, makes me part of their community of volunteers.
One of the things that impressed me the most about this weekend's BarCamp is that it already has over 200 registered participants. Because of the event's success and space limitations, registration is required. So if you're looking to attend, you'll probably have to wait. You might be able to grab a last minute volunteer spot on their Facebook page. But you can keep track of this year's topics and activities via blogs and sites like Flickr and Twitter. We'll be tagging our posts 'BarCampRDU' to help you find those and follow along.
2011 is the sixth year that BarCampRDU is being held, and it looks like it will be another exciting day of collaboration.
What will a successful BarCampRDU look like? Organizer Jason Austin wants people to connect, learn, and explore potential start-up companies:
"At the end of the day, I hope BarCampRDU inspires people to try something new. A new technology, a new venture, a new partnership. I see BarCampRDU as a way to connect with the technology community in the Triangle, while getting exposed to different technologies. Hopefully, that will spark the next startup!"
As I started preparing for BarCamp, I took a glance at last years session topics. BarCamp has a variety of sessions such as Doing HTTP right, Running a user group, You too can make bubbly beverages, Lock picking, and Intro to iPhone development. All of these topics are participant-driven and selected by attendees.
The sessions will be chosen on-site by the participants. Remember, everyone is expected to teach, talk, and participate. If you propose a session and noone wants to attend, that topic doesn't make it. However, if you have a great topic, you'll get support from the participants to present. I was inspired enough to consider submitting a topic of my own: Organizing the organizers.
In Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill (an area also known as the Triangle), there are a lot of different user and interest groups. CityCamp Raleigh, TriDUG (Triangle Drupal User Group), TriLUG (Triangle Linux User Group), TriJUG (Triangle Java User Group), groups for Ruby and PHP users, and many more. As an organizer for both CityCamp Raleigh and TriDUG, I know it takes time to organize a meeting, get presenters, and get people to show up. Imagine doing all that work to find out another group booked the same night.
At my proposed session, I'd like to explore how we can organize the organizers. Maybe get some information about the other groups so we can better communicate, and brainstorm ways we can integrate our calendars.
But I won't be selfishly attending BarCamp just for this session. In fact, it may not even make the cut. What I am excited about is the collaborative environment, the people I'll meet, and the things I'll learn. To learn more about BarCampRDU, check out their blog.