It’s no secret that Walls.io likes BarCamps. In fact, we even give them our Pro Walls for free! I know, I know…madness! But we just happen to think that BarCamps are a fantastic way for users to contribute. And since BarCamps are often organised by volunteers with barely any funds, we ourselves like to contribute by providing them with a free social wall for their event.
What is this thing you call a BarCamp?
I figure if you’re not particularly involved with tech and social media circles you might feel a bit out of your depth now. But don’t worry, this can happen to the best of us at times 😉
Simply put, a BarCamp is an unconference. Instead of a stringently organised conference where attendees are merely consumers, BarCamps foster the participation and contribution of everyone. In this open environment everyone gets to share and everyone gets to learn. Just like the BarCamp wiki states in its rules section, a BarCamp has “no spectators, only participants”.
BarCamps are often organised around a certain topic, yet the actual sessions only get scheduled on the day they happen. After an introduction round those attendees who want to lead a session can post their sessions to a board or session grid. It might take a bit of moving session around, and sometimes people with similar topics are going to spontaneously band together, but the open process works out extremely well most of the time.
History of the BarCamp
The first BarCamp happened in 2005 in Palo Alto, California. The term “happened” is actually pretty spot on in this context because it was organised in less than one week and ended up having 200 attendees. It was organised by Ross Mayfield as an alternative to Foo Camp, an annual invitation-only hacker conference.
Since then BarCamps have gone global, with an international BarCamp wiki functioning as a helpful resource for organisers and attendees. The wiki openly explains and shows the organisational process, so anyone and everyone can organise a BarCamp and can even use the wiki to plan their own event collaboratively.
First Rule of BarCamp: You do talk about BarCamp
Screenshot from barcamp.org.
The rules of BarCamp are pretty simple – a wonderful parody on “Fight Club” too – and already include the reason for Walls.io supporting BarCamps the way we do: “You do talk about BarCamp.” What better way is there to collect everything that is being said than on a dedicated social wall!
The rule that scares newbies the most is probably the last one, but don’t worry about it 🙂 I’m really not what you’d call shy, but I barely got a few words out at my first BarCamp. But then I went to one last year and ended up leading two sessions over the weekend. And you know what? It wasn’t even that scary. Because at a good BarCamp the atmosphere is one that will foster people’s intent to speak up. You will hear lots of different opinions but also meet people who dig the same things you’re into. Sometimes you’ll be exposed to topics you might never have gotten exposed to in your everyday life. And, once in a while, you leave a BarCamp having made new friends.
Next BarCamp? Coming right up!
While BarCamps originated in a tech and web environment and a lot of attendees are still what we consider digital natives, these unconferences have seriously branched out. Themes now include pretty much everything – education, fashion, hacking, PR and marketing, cooking, art, politics, etc. A lot of people even make the effort to travel to BarCamps they want to attend.
I truly believe that a BarCamp is something everyone should experience at least once, so if I’ve tickled your fancy it’s probably best to just Google “BarCamp + [your location]” and find out what’s happening near you. For instance, if you’re in Austria you could check out this list of upcoming BarCamps. The spontaneous ones could head to BarCamp Graz 2015 right this weekend (starting April 17, 2015) while the shy ones can follow it from a safe distance via their social wall. And if you’re in Germany BarCamp Rhein-Neckar, which is going down this very weekend (April 18/19, 2015) in Heidelberg, could be your first BarCamp. If you can’t make it there you can, of course, also follow everything via Walls.io.