Stranded In The Southland

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BarCamp LA

Yow, I spent Saturday out at BarCamp LA -- what an experience! It was like nothing I'd ever done before, and an all-around terrific experience. It was the perfect expression of the much-maligned idea of the Internet as gift culture.

The BarCamp idea is (apparently) that you can get together a bunch of smart folks with just the minimum amount of organization and let 'em loose to do their best to educate each other and network and have a great time. Folks are anxious to contribute whatever they can to make it a wonderful event. In fact, there is no charge to participate, and the sponsors (folks like Yahoo! and Google and Maholo (who donated their offices to house the event) pay for everything.

There were four tracks of talks, and people just signed up on each of the tracks to give whatever talks they felt like. Titles ranged from "Concurrency for Web Folks" to "My Favorite Expensive Beers", and everything in between. I went to talks on doing IT in Africa, storytelling versus storysharing, how to pitch an idea, the above-mentioned concurrency talk (a waste if you have a degree in CS), and a cool talk on hacking on consumer hardware.

There was plenty of networking (I met some cool UNIX folks from the Inland Empire, out by me, along with some pleasantly strange network hackers), and plenty of decent beer and food and fun. They even gave out free event t-shirts! All in all, I was blown away. I'm still kind of stunned that something like this could ever happen, let alone happen repeatedly, all over the world. Woo hoo!


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