My take on Barcamp London 2006

So on Saturday I went to Barcamp London, held in the Tottenham Court Yahoo Headquarters.

For those of you that judge a conference’s success by the amount of freebies you get, I got 4 free t-shirts so there you have it, it was very successful … For those of you that judge a conference’s success by the quality of the presentations, or the assortment of skilled individuals attending, I better go into a little more detail.

The Barcamp Cape Town attendees reading this post are probably wanting to know how the London event compared with the Cape Town event. Well the answer is not that black and white. I think its quite hard to compare the 2 Barcamps. Barcamp Cape Town was first of a kind, not only in South Africa, but Africa. Nothing like this had happened there before. It had a unique African flavour to it that was completely different to Barcamp London. The beauty of the British Barcamp though was the amount of resources made available to it, i.e. a fast, fat internet connection, big web companies sponsoring it, like Yahoo, eBay, Techcrunch and the BBC, and a country where blogging is a far bigger thing.

The amount of hugely skilled geeks who attended Barcamp was amazing.

  • There were the Yahoo staff, some of which worked on the new community project Yahoo Answers, others who worked on the management of the content for the Yahoo homepage (which many of you probably default to),
  • The BBC Backstage former senior producer, Ben Metcalfe, and his successor, Ian Forrester involved in the BBC’s developer network to encourage innovation and support new talent.
  • Usuability and accessibily experts like Andy Budd and the guys at Flow Interactive.
  • An Instant Messanger Security Expert.
  • Flash gurus, including Aral Balkan.
  • Every type of developer you can think of flashing around words like “Ruby on Rails”, “Python” and “Geotagging”
  • And of course a few fellow web designers who probably were one up on me because they knew what “Ruby on Rails” actually meant.

20 minutes into the Barcamp event there were already 85 photos of Barcamp London avaliable on Flickr, loads of WordPress blog posts reviewing every minute that went my, and even videocasts being uploaded. That’s the amount of geeks we are talking about that were surrounding me. Intimidating?

There were so many presentations on such a variety of topics you felt you couldn’t blink or you’d miss out on a wealth of knowledge.


The Geeks and what the geeks were talking about

In the evening, after a few slices of pizzas and a few Stella Artois bevvies, I had my beer armour on and wasn’t so afraid to ask stupid questions. Needless to say geeks and beer are a funny combination, after too many beers the conversation gets even more geeky, I’m not lying when I say I had conversations with guys about cling ons, why William Shatner should have patented the cellphone after acting in Star Trek, early mainframe printers and how they worked, and vector imaging in air traffic control.

All in all it was a great day to network with very bright geeks, find out where the internet is going, and how you can try to stay innovative making developments for it.

Categorized as Tech

By Mark Forrester

Co-founder of WooThemes. Makers of WooCommerce - acquired by Automattic. Mark is a husband, dad, early stage investor, photographer, gadget geek and sports fanatic. Proudly based in Cape Town, South Africa.


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