Boulder hosted its first BarCamp last weekend, and as expected I had a blast.
Friday was a great night were I asked and answered the question “So what is your gig?” many, many times. I was impressed with the diversity of the group. For some reason, BarCamp attracts the dreamers, doers and designers of the world (VC’s/ entrepreneurs, coders and graphics kids) and this creates a very cool mix.
What did I learn?
A whole hell of a lot.
It seems that every month I have an ‘ahh-ha’ moment, further expanding the realization of what I can do. Working for Confluence has been a fantastic experience, broadening my horizon on what can be done with the web. Coming to BarCamp, and talking and watching has done so equally. I will get more into that later.
Saturday morning I had breakfast with Stan of Lijit. We heard of a GoLite sale about ten minutes from where we were and went for a bit of a shopping spree (I bought some fantastic gear that I ‘really needed’). We got to Medium right at 10 to start the day of discussion.
The way I describe BarCamp to friends is a day of passionate discussion with a side effect of learning. I listened in on the session at 10 about Flash (Mis-conceptions, Desktop, Apps & AJAX). Quite impressive what flash can do, but I won’t buy in until Adobe realizes that creating a cool demo isn’t what they should focus on; a way for developers to pick up and expand on the practice is what they should.
At 11 I lead a discussion “Trendr, Design Trends, What is Hot and What is Sad.” I thought this would be a very interesting discussion, especially with the audience (who consisted of hard core coders, a hand full of creative folks, CEO’s of great existing companies and a VC or two). I started out with five or six sites, to show the current design trends (MySpace, Flickr,
I had the best view in the room, I was facing the audience and got to see the facial and physical expressions of everyone, which was really amusing. The room jumped back about a foot when I put up MySpace, started to smile when I put up Google and had mixed reactions to quite a few of the sites. The crowd was nothing less than fantastic, building and building on the conversation.
What was the biggest surprise? Besides the face of the Adobe rep when I went through a full demo of “Web Trends” with flash blocked in Firefox, usability and Info/Arch was at the top of the list in respect to design. In other words, what surprised me most is all the dreamers, doers and designers in the room would rather have a sexy flow to the site over a pretty drop shadow. Anyone remember the 90’s? To me that is a big, welcome and wonderful surprise.
I wish I had time to go to all of the sessions, or BarCamp was a bit longer so we could have one or two sessions a day (midweek BarCamp anyone?).
What did I take away?
1) The Tech Community in Boulder is diverse, talented and inspiring
2) If you walk into BarCamp with a skillset in Java, PHP and Ajax, you can walk out with a couple of job offers
3) Passionate conversations are inspiring long past the conference
4) Usability and Info/Arch are respected and needed parts of design
5) Even competitors want to help you improve
Stan Half In
Pitching Web 2.0 Companies
Air Oil, the Social Lubricant