Guest Blog - Are Barcamps and Unconferences Still Relevant in 2014?
Liz was recently asked back to guest blog for d2Digital, this time the brief was something topical within the technology sector.
After reading a recent blog by fellow geek and event organiser Les Pounder asking the same question, Liz felt it was a prime opportunity to respond...
Recently I saw this article by one of our geeky friends Les Pounder, questioning whether Barcamps and Unconferences are still relevant in 2014. Well first off....what is a Barcamp?
Well, usually it's a type of 'Unconference'. Which then raises the question, what's an 'Unconference'? An 'Unconference' for those wondering is where the participants set the agenda for the day, on the day. It's as good as the attendees want to make it. Talks can range from uber-geeky to things that aren't really related to the original topic of the conference, but that's ok. Afterall it's an unconference, so pretty much any topic can be covered. There are of course a few rules for the unconference too, there's the rule of two feet, which means that if what you're listening to isn't really for you, you can just get up and leave. The second rule is that whoever attends and whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened. Really refreshing, when you've been to your fair share of un-engaging conferences in the past. If you've never been to a tech event, I'd suggest a barcamp as your first!
So here's a list of our favourite conferences to attend....
Manchester Girl Geeks Barcamp
As one of the organisers of the 2014 event based at MMU, I just had to mention #bracamp (yes, not a typo). It helps to redress the lack of visible women in technology by running a conference in a supportive environment to enable women to attend, possibly their first geeky conference. It's always been important to me to support women-friendly events rather than women-only, that's what @mcrgeekgirls is all about!
This one is dear to my heart, as it was the very first Barcamp, and geek event I ever went to (it kind of massively snowballed from there, as I'm sure you can imagine), so it felt only right to sponsor last years event and give something back. It has a great mixture of geeks, non-geeks, creatives and business people all mixed in with ice cream, pies, cake, coffee and talks. Sadly there's not going to be a Barcamp 2014, but do keep an eye on the website for further details of what's coming next from the organising team.
An unconference that focused on open source, Linux and Open Culture, it has a pre-structured strand with free slots for attendees to share their talks too. For the last two years it's been based in Liverpool, but they do travel around, so the next one will be in Oxford this October.
Based in Doncaster College's modern new build, LearnPod14 is being held in July. It crosses the strands of techies, academics and non-profit organisations in one day, sharing their talks and starting discussions in the usual unconference way.
LibraryCamp has the unsurprising theme of....'libraries', however there's lots of exciting talks and discussions around tech and engagement with the public in these spaces. DigiEnable sponsored last years unconference which was not just for those that worked in libraries.
Without these types of conferences I think some people would never attend an event, or ever stand up in front of an audience and do their first public talk about their passion or interest, because what's most important about these events is the attendees. Nurture these supportive environments and empower your attendee and you'll see them both flourish