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My experiences of BarCamp London 9

Posted on Wednesday November 23, 2011

BarCamp London. Photo by Albert Lo

Yay, I can now say I’m no longer a BarCamp virgin. My first BarCamp experience was at BarCamp London 9 this year in October 2011 at City University. A free to attend weekend un-conference for designers, developers and geeks of all types sharing their knowledge about technology and literally anything else they are interested in.

I heard about BarCamp over the last few years via Twitter and I wanted to go to a conference that gave me a sense of belonging. I liked the idea of a participatory un-conference where you won’t be judged and the fact that it was free! Conferences these days can be so expensive and it’s something I can rarely afford time wise. BarCamp is held over a weekend.

What I expected to get out of the weekend was to meet new like-minded people, to go to some interesting talks and to be able to finally say I have been to BarCamp!

People waiting around in the main room. Photos by Albert Lo

Due to the popularity of BarCamps, tickets sell out extremely quickly and I only found out about it through Twitter posts. So last year I signed up to the BarCamp mailing list in the hope that I would be notified early about upcoming BarCamp events. BarCamp 9’s first batch of tickets sold out in 60 seconds! I thought I’d have to wait another year but lo and behold I got an email about a release of a second batch. This time I wanted to make sure I got a ticket, and after 5 minutes of continuous browser refreshing, I got hold of a priceless ticket.

My talk

Everyone who attends a BarCamp should also present something – just camping is frowned upon. On that note, being a newbie, I bit the bullet and signed up for a slot on the first day on the digital grid once it was opened.

My talk was about 5 things I learned while freelancing – Learned the hard way so you don’t have to.

How did it go?

Having 35 minutes to present something went surprisingly quick. Despite only 12 or so people attending my talk I received a lot of questions. As the slot after mine was empty most people stayed for an extra 20 or so minutes to ask me questions.

My talk was mentioned in the official hash tag: #bcl9 twitter feed and people I spoke to had heard that my talk was good, so that was cool!

It’s a really nice feeling that you can share your knowledge and experiences, and I like the fact people appreciate what you have to say. It’s great to have had experience in terms of public speaking and with refinement I know I can do better and be even more engaging to my audience. Despite only having 12 or so people turn up, in a way I’m glad because they had chosen to attend my talk and they were interested in the topic.

My lessons from BarCamp

The closing talk on Sunday afternoon. Photos by Albert Lo

I had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend despite being geeked out by the end of it. It has taught me to act on any ideas no matter how absurd, and I have even more respect for the guys who had created start ups and worked so hard.

I can’t wait for next year because it’s not only the presentations and knowledge sharing that made it great, it was the people you meet and have fun with along the way. You never know what opportunities and friends you make.

Despite not being a BarCamp newbie anymore I think next time I would definitely talk about something I am passionate about outside my job and share that passion. Perhaps it will be about the vinyl toys I collect or my interest in limited edition cross over fashion/design.

My talk is uploaded to Slideshare as some people expressed an interest in the slides after the talk and using it for reference.

Have you experienced a BarCamp?

I hope this article has been insightful. What’s your opinion of BarCamps? Is it a good thing? Please share your experiences in the comments below…

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