BarCamp Philly 5: 3 things we learned at this weekend's unconference - Technical.ly Philly

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Nov. 13, 2012 9:15 am

BarCamp Philly 5: 3 things we learned at this weekend’s unconference

At BarCamp, the pressure is on. With seven 45-minute blocks of time and as many as eight possible talks to choose from during each one, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the options and even easier to feel like you might be missing out on a particularly special discussion. (Or was that just us?) […]

At BarCamp, the pressure is on. With seven 45-minute blocks of time and as many as eight possible talks to choose from during each one, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the options and even easier to feel like you might be missing out on a particularly special discussion. (Or was that just us?)

Take the 12:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. slot during Saturday’s “unconference:” Should you choose the Lifehacking roundtable? Or maybe Who’s Doing This Horseshit to Our Internet? Or no, what about, “Hear my startup story and help me not suck at launch”?

OK, you get it. It was tough, but BarCampers — a mix of hackers, creators, curators and more, as co-organizer Sarah Feidt put it — embraced the challenge. Before we get to the things we learned, let’s talk nitty gritty.

This go-round, BarCamp was roughly the same size as last year’s in terms of attendance, Feidt said, with about 325 attendees. Wharton’s Huntsman Hall, the space for the event, on the other hand, was its largest to date, as we reported earlier. (BarCamp Philly 4 was held in the same place last year, but attendees didn’t have access to the whole forum level like it did this year.)

Locally-built event scheduling app Shindig handled BarCamp’s mobile app and adjusted the schedule on the fly, since, as is custom, sessions are developed and planned as the event progresses.

Finally, this year, BarCamp served bacon at breakfast. No small feat: people really loved the bacon, Feidt said.

Check out the whole list of sessions here. (Feidt said she’s working on putting together a more comprehensive list that includes the names of speakers and descriptions of each talk. Watch the BarCamp Twitter for it.)

  • Despite the inherent, accidental nature of serendipity, there are things you can do to encourage it and make it happen more often. Chris Bartlett, executive director at LGBT community center William Way, offered some suggestions: Get on Twitter (on Facebook, Bartlett said he usually only interacts with people he knows). Join groups where you’re a minority (Bartlett said he’s often part of groups where he’s the only male or he’s the only Caucasian guy.) And don’t just think about how you can get access to serendipity, also think of how you can contribute to it, Bartlett said. For more on this topic, check out the work of Valdis Krebs.
  • Money is only one part of the relationship between a content producer and its audience. So said film producer David Dylan Thomas at his roundtable discussion on the future of content. The challenge, he said, is figuring out what else is part of that transactional relationship and how to cultivate it.
  • Bikers love geeking about gear. During Azavea developer Bennet Huber‘s talk on urban cycling, nearly all of the time was spent discussing the merits of fenders, helmets and plastic bags as tools for waterproofing sneakers, even though he had planned to dedicate a portion of his talk to city biking strategies. We’re not knocking it — now we know we’d better buy a patch kit because Philly bikers are prone to flat tires. Find Huber’s presentation notes here.

We couldn’t make it for the whole day of the unconference, so we definitely missed out on a lot — share with us what you learned in the comments.

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