Will be going to the third edition of BarCampAustin, this coming Saturday. BarCamps are community-led unconferences which tend to focus on technology and creativity. Originally, these “user-generated conferences” sprang up from Tim O’Reilly‘s Foo Camp conferences but BarCamp is now a broad network loosely connecting enthusiasts living in different urban centers around the world. From the long list of past events, one might hope that those gatherings would get some attention.
Thankfully, BarCampAustin is getting some press.
One recent piece of the BCA coverage came in the form of a blog post on a local daily newspaper’s site:
My own comment (in case it gets moderated out):
I’ll be at BarCamp and it will be the first time I participate in such an event, even though events like these are rather common in many parts of the world.
In a way, it’s part of a move away from the more restrictive events like FooCamp, TED, WEF, and SXSW. The crowd attracted by free and open events is likely to be more interested in collaboration and thus more in-tune with what is going on than those who limit themselves to closed and expensive conferences. The good thing is, the two types of events can run in parallel, feed on one another, encourage creativity.
I’m actually pretty excited about going. Just thinking about it is stimulating.
Judging from this video, it seems that last year’s unconference was a blast.
I sincerely hope that academics will eventually adopt such an informal model for gatherings which are more than résumé-stuffing and “reading papers at one another.” Many scholars (in Europe, especially) complain that today’s mega-conferences are too much about socialization, schmoozing, mingling, and nametag-spotting. But these social activities are extremely important for the pursuit of knowledge as these are contexts in which ideas are exchanged, collaboration projects are planned, and passions for research are rekindled. Having separate, informal events focusing on the creative, human, and social elements would free many academic fields from those strenuous sessions focused on “academic presentations.”