:Ben Metcalfe Blog

BarCampLondon – wow, what a rush.

Wow, what can I say… It’s 24 hrs since BarCampLondon finished and I’m still recovering!

It went even better than I expected, with no real dramas, problems or hiccups. But what’s more, I really enjoyed organising it too.


From what I have read on the blogosphere, most people found the unconference format to be enjoyable and rewarding once they got into it. This was of course the first BarCamp (and probably unconference) to take place in London and so for many it was something of an unknown.

A lot of people had been concerend about having to present in front of an audience but once they realised it took place in small groups around a table most people were very comfortable with the format. After all, it was not much different to having a chat around the pup table, albeit minus the pints.

The Wall of presentations

Sadly I only got to see about a quarter of the presentations as I was busy orcestrating things behind the scenes. Such chores included collecting the food deliveries and laying them out, through to wondering around picking up bottles and rubbish so that the place looked vaugley tidy. The latter job was particuarlly difficult as I had to ensure Sofia didn’t spot me doing this, for fear of her getting ideas about me doing this at home…

But I was more than happy to do this and I did get to catch some interesting discussions ranging from future web app architypes (by Matt Webb) through to creating a near-realtime train map (by Matthew Sommerville).

What was particuarlly pleasing was the cross-section of attendees – from uber techies through to usability specialists, designers, marketing people and even those not formally working in the IT industry. With that came an equally wide range of presentation subjects – from tech-focused introductions to XSL/T and Microformats through to better user-centred design and even MP3 DJing.

BarCampLondon TShirt

I think most people agreed that we should have more unconference events like this in London. I certainly would like to see another BarCampLondon – maybe as soon as 6 months time or so. However I would like to see some more specific events.

I think unconferences only scale to 150, maybe 200 people maximum – both because of the intimate nature of the presentational format and also the chances of finding a venue to host so many people. If you can only have so many people at an unconference event, one way of including more people to hold many targeted events (and assuming/enforcing that people only attend the specific event that is most suited to their background). Such events I would like to see include:

  • MashPit – An already established conference for people who want to work on mashups
  • ???Camp – The audience of this event is everyone else who was at BarCamp but wasn’t a techie/geek. Design, PR, marketing, product development, etc. This is a hard one because people in these kinds of roles may not be attracted to the hap-hazzard nature of the format and also are less likely to be as passionate about their jobs to come to a weekend event. They also tend to be less open about what their doing then geeks… But that’s more reason to do this! (maybe like MarCamp)
  • MobieCamp – Unconference for people working in the London/UK mobile industry. I’m personally not that interested in this industry sector, but London is becoming a hub in this area as Google ramps up it’s London base to be a centre of mobile development excellence. (see MobiCampLA)
  • PodNVlogCamp – If anyone remembers PodCastConUK last year, it’s time we had another such event and why not make it unconference?
  • BarCampLondonII – nuff said

Thanks to all that came, and I’m sorry to those who were unable to get onto the attendee list. We tried our best to enable as many people to come as possible, but ultimately we were never going to be able to accommodate – and never will, I don’t think either.

I liked the idea of accepting signups from everyone and radomly picking 100 attendees for the next BarCamp. This avoids the challenge of not missing those who don’t find out about the event within hours of it’s announcement, etc.

Well, whatever happens I hope to see you all at the next event!