What the H E double hockey sticks?

Is it me or are people just not understanding BarCamp?

“Mostly there to watch and learn…I’ll be the dedicated audience.”

The desire to learn is wecome, but I’m concerned with the expressed lack of participation. Maybe the whole DemoCamp experience is corrupting the spirit of BarCamp. NO SPECTATORS, ONLY PARTICIPANTS! No tourists! I’m concerned all of this sitting and complaining that you can’t hear the questions being asked at DemoCamp has made people forget that BarCamp is about independence, doing-it-yourself, making things happen. If you can’t hear the question, ask for the question to be repeated. Why are you relying on others to do something for you? Speak up and take responsibility. There is an architecture of participation and your BarCampTdot experience requires that you participate and share. While the above comment may be harmless, it expresses a lack of contribution that will suck the life out of BarCamp. I wonder if I would have felt differently if the statement had been:

“I’m not sure I have anything to present but there’s nothing like meeting new folks and discussing ideas and learning”

This statement bothers me less. Jay, Bryce, Deb, and I have been busting our buts to make sure there are attendees, sponsors, facilities, food, furniture, beer, projectors, electricity, a network, etc. There are NO TOURISTS! The rules of BarCamp are very simple:

  1. Attendees must give a demo, a session, or help with one. All presentations are scheduled the day they happen. Prepare in advance, but come early to get a slot on the wall.
  2. Presenters are responsible for making sure that notes/slides/audio/video of their presentations are published on the web for the benefit of all and those who can't be present.

When you come, be prepared to share with barcampers. When you leave, be prepared to share it with the world.

  • Craig Fitzpatrick

    <p>Here here!</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I've only been to one BarCamp so far (Ottawa), and am coming up for BarCampTdot. The thing that draws me to something like this is the interacting. It's the people that are passionate enough about what they are doing actually get out there and share it with the world. The last thing I want to do on a weekend is go to a classroom. Ick.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Step up people!</p>

  • mir

    <p>hey there Dave,</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Thanks for busting my chops.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I agree it's hard to try to run something as a participatory event and then watch everyone sit back while you do all the work.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>That's often how I feel teaching.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I think the problem with a fad though, is that suddenly newbies (like me) are at your homegrown event and it can be intimidating for them, I think I added my quid pro quo as a way of saying 'I don't know any of you, so I feel pretty shy & but I want to be involved.'</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>That's why I said dedicated. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>In defense of those of us who feel a little to shy to grab the mic. I learn the most from an engaged audiance. I gave a seminar on Social software to an undergrad class this semsetr and they were so involved and engaged I walked out feeling that I had learned more then they had. SO you need people like me (the dedicated audience) to help your presentations be awesome.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>nb: I will be helping out with the presentation on Bloghernorth so I won't just be standing around mouth breathing, which is kinda ironic after my heated defense of being an audience-member.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>looking forward to BarCamp.<br />mir</p>

  • David Crow

    <p>Hi Mir,</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>How do we lower the intimidation barrier? We need n00bies, veterns, people who aren't as cynical as I am. We thrive on conversations. It's the energy from others, the collision of ideas, the participation of the people (specially those that are new to the community) that make <a href="http://barcamp.org/BarCampTdot&quot; target="_blank">BarCamp</a> so valuable.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Participation is a funny thing. I don't tend to present a lot at these events, because I'm learning, I'm interested in the conversations that others want to have. But I try to participate in the conversation, the coordination, the vibe. The description of the 'Social Software' class is exactly the feeling we're trying to capture. You have people who convene discussions, not everyone can convene a session (though maybe they should), and you need to have participants for a conversation. I want to be excited, challenged, offended, intellectually stimulated, and happy to have spent my weekend with a bunch of interesting, engaging people.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>The <a href="http://barcamp.org/BlogHerNorth&quot; target="_blank">BlogHerNorth</a> talk interests me greatly. I'm going to participate. <a href="http://heeney.ca/&quot; target="_blank">Kristin</a> is starting to blog (albeit in a very business specific way) and she is going to come out and participate.</p>

  • Dan Perl

    <p>Dave, for the life of me I can't think of anything to present. And I don't know of anyone who will present and that I can help with. Can I still come? Or should I stay away so I don't end up being just a spectator? ;-)</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I have been at a couple of DemoCamps, but this would be my first BarCamp. So I'm not sure if this would be against the spirit of the camp, but how about posting some Help Wanted announcements? What could you use some help with? I know Deb has posted something like that on the XPToronto list but I can't help with that because I'm not an XPert (her term). What else is there?</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Hey, at least I am doing something by posting this message. Does this count towards being a PARTICIPANT in the BarCamp?</p>

  • http://www.devshop.com Craig Fitzpatrick

    Here here!

    I've only been to one BarCamp so far (Ottawa), and am coming up for BarCampTdot. The thing that draws me to something like this is the interacting. It's the people that are passionate enough about what they are doing actually get out there and share it with the world. The last thing I want to do on a weekend is go to a classroom. Ick.

    Step up people!

  • http://www.flinknet.com/theflink mir

    hey there Dave,

    Thanks for busting my chops.

    I agree it's hard to try to run something as a participatory event and then watch everyone sit back while you do all the work.

    That's often how I feel teaching.

    I think the problem with a fad though, is that suddenly newbies (like me) are at your homegrown event and it can be intimidating for them, I think I added my quid pro quo as a way of saying 'I don't know any of you, so I feel pretty shy & but I want to be involved.'

    That's why I said dedicated.

    In defense of those of us who feel a little to shy to grab the mic. I learn the most from an engaged audiance. I gave a seminar on Social software to an undergrad class this semsetr and they were so involved and engaged I walked out feeling that I had learned more then they had. SO you need people like me (the dedicated audience) to help your presentations be awesome.

    nb: I will be helping out with the presentation on Bloghernorth so I won't just be standing around mouth breathing, which is kinda ironic after my heated defense of being an audience-member.

    looking forward to BarCamp.
    mir

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ David Crow

    Hi Mir,

    How do we lower the intimidation barrier? We need n00bies, veterns, people who aren't as cynical as I am. We thrive on conversations. It's the energy from others, the collision of ideas, the participation of the people (specially those that are new to the community) that make BarCamp so valuable.

    Participation is a funny thing. I don't tend to present a lot at these events, because I'm learning, I'm interested in the conversations that others want to have. But I try to participate in the conversation, the coordination, the vibe. The description of the 'Social Software' class is exactly the feeling we're trying to capture. You have people who convene discussions, not everyone can convene a session (though maybe they should), and you need to have participants for a conversation. I want to be excited, challenged, offended, intellectually stimulated, and happy to have spent my weekend with a bunch of interesting, engaging people.

    The BlogHerNorth talk interests me greatly. I'm going to participate. Kristin is starting to blog (albeit in a very business specific way) and she is going to come out and participate.

  • Roland Tanglao

    <p>don't worry there will be plenty of participation from the Bryght guys. Be careful what you ask for :-)</p>

  • Dan Perl

    Dave, for the life of me I can't think of anything to present. And I don't know of anyone who will present and that I can help with. Can I still come? Or should I stay away so I don't end up being just a spectator? ;-)

    I have been at a couple of DemoCamps, but this would be my first BarCamp. So I'm not sure if this would be against the spirit of the camp, but how about posting some Help Wanted announcements? What could you use some help with? I know Deb has posted something like that on the XPToronto list but I can't help with that because I'm not an XPert (her term). What else is there?

    Hey, at least I am doing something by posting this message. Does this count towards being a PARTICIPANT in the BarCamp?

  • Kate Trgovac

    <p>David ..</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>You raise one of the key issues that I'm hoping to discuss, namely, how do we lower intimidation barrier!</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Frankly, if I were on the fence about coming to BarCamp and then read your post, I would scratch my name off, call up a good friend and go for a walk in the park on Saturday instead of coming to BarCamp.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Some people are just starting out, and either don't have anything to present, don't know <strong>what</strong> to present or don't know anyone to present with. Kristin is lucky .. she has an amazing mentor and a key contact in our industry to help show her the way. Not everyone has that. And not everyone is 'gung ho' about presenting.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I'm all for active participation, and I firmly believe that if people have a question, they should ask it. We all take responsibility for our own learning. But the self-confidence that seems to run rampant in BarCamp and DemoCamp isn't necessarily the norm, and I do believe that the lack of acknowledgement of it is a barrier.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Now, I certainly don't mean that BarCamp needs to turn into a 'hold-our-wombs, worship-the-moon and sing-kum-bah-ya' event . but maybe if we could do a shoutout to newbies, something like:</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>'And if you've never been to BarCamp, that doesn't matter. One of the first sessions will be 'How to BarCamp Like an Old Pro' … we'll have you joining in, shouting out and running the projector by the first coffee break'.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Something that says .. 'we were there once too, but this is an incredibly amazing opportunity and you will have a great time. Some come out, take a risk, we'll give you some survival skills.'</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>But chastising people who don't want to present .. that's not the way to build community. We're not all alpha-types and we take different types of encouragement. If BarCamp is <strong>truly</strong> interested in community, then we need to start acknowledging that. If we're just giving lip-service to community, well, that's a different story.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Cheers .. Kate</p>

  • David Crow

    <p>Now it's time for me to get my chops busted. <a href="http://mynameiskate.ca&quot; target="_blank">Kate</a> <strong>hits it right on the mark</strong>. I hadn't thought that my behaviour might be part of the problem with attracting certain groups of people. Definitely not my intention, and I'm sure that there are other things that we are doing that are impacting the decisions of others about coming out to BarCamp to learn and participate.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>BarCamp is a mechanism to facilitate community. The community is what emerges around BarCamp. We can only provide a venue and a time to gather. Maybe if we're lucky we can instill the community with some initial values. But it is the attendees who decide who the community is, what they are about, how they they progress, etc.</p>

  • http://rolandtanglao.com Roland Tanglao

    don't worry there will be plenty of participation from the Bryght guys. Be careful what you ask for :-)

  • siobhan

    <p>Thanks for your post Kate! I had the exact same thoughts after reading David's post.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I really agree with your point, 'We're not all alpha-types'. And if we were, Bar / Demo camp wouldn't be that interesting. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Its true that everyone should be ready to ask questions but a dedicated audience is also important. How else would you get the feedback on 'does anyone find my product / idea / business plan interesting?'</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>siobhan</p>

  • http://www.mynameiskate.ca Kate Trgovac

    David ..

    You raise one of the key issues that I'm hoping to discuss, namely, how do we lower intimidation barrier!

    Frankly, if I were on the fence about coming to BarCamp and then read your post, I would scratch my name off, call up a good friend and go for a walk in the park on Saturday instead of coming to BarCamp.

    Some people are just starting out, and either don't have anything to present, don't know what to present or don't know anyone to present with. Kristin is lucky .. she has an amazing mentor and a key contact in our industry to help show her the way. Not everyone has that. And not everyone is 'gung ho' about presenting.

    I'm all for active participation, and I firmly believe that if people have a question, they should ask it. We all take responsibility for our own learning. But the self-confidence that seems to run rampant in BarCamp and DemoCamp isn't necessarily the norm, and I do believe that the lack of acknowledgement of it is a barrier.

    Now, I certainly don't mean that BarCamp needs to turn into a 'hold-our-wombs, worship-the-moon and sing-kum-bah-ya' event . but maybe if we could do a shoutout to newbies, something like:

    'And if you've never been to BarCamp, that doesn't matter. One of the first sessions will be 'How to BarCamp Like an Old Pro' … we'll have you joining in, shouting out and running the projector by the first coffee break'.

    Something that says .. 'we were there once too, but this is an incredibly amazing opportunity and you will have a great time. Some come out, take a risk, we'll give you some survival skills.'

    But chastising people who don't want to present .. that's not the way to build community. We're not all alpha-types and we take different types of encouragement. If BarCamp is truly interested in community, then we need to start acknowledging that. If we're just giving lip-service to community, well, that's a different story.

    Cheers .. Kate

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ David Crow

    Now it's time for me to get my chops busted. Kate hits it right on the mark. I hadn't thought that my behaviour might be part of the problem with attracting certain groups of people. Definitely not my intention, and I'm sure that there are other things that we are doing that are impacting the decisions of others about coming out to BarCamp to learn and participate.

    BarCamp is a mechanism to facilitate community. The community is what emerges around BarCamp. We can only provide a venue and a time to gather. Maybe if we're lucky we can instill the community with some initial values. But it is the attendees who decide who the community is, what they are about, how they they progress, etc.

  • http://siobhan.blogware.com siobhan

    Thanks for your post Kate! I had the exact same thoughts after reading David's post.

    I really agree with your point, 'We're not all alpha-types'. And if we were, Bar / Demo camp wouldn't be that interesting.

    Its true that everyone should be ready to ask questions but a dedicated audience is also important. How else would you get the feedback on 'does anyone find my product / idea / business plan interesting?'

    siobhan

  • Jen

    <p>Great comments. I felt very intimidated when <a href="http://chrisnolan.ca/&quot; target="_blank">Chris</a> asked me to BarCamp come last year. I said 'but I don't have anything to present'. Now that I have been to a BarCamp and I better understand the environment I am willing to share my not-fully-cooked ideas.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I agree that participation is mandatory, but what about giving everyone one 'get out of jail free' card when it comes to presenting. i.e. tell people that they have to participate (ask questions, discuss, be involved), but they don't have to present at their first BarCamp (unless they are a sponsor).</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Another option would be to have a panel containing all first time attendees. Let them introduce themselves, say what the are working on, and why they came to BarCamp.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Jen</p>

  • Tantek

    <p><a href="http://barcamp.org/TheRulesOfBarCamp#therules&quot; target="_blank">The Rules of BarCamp</a></p>

  • http://mewren.com Jen

    Great comments. I felt very intimidated when Chris asked me to BarCamp come last year. I said 'but I don't have anything to present'. Now that I have been to a BarCamp and I better understand the environment I am willing to share my not-fully-cooked ideas.

    I agree that participation is mandatory, but what about giving everyone one 'get out of jail free' card when it comes to presenting. i.e. tell people that they have to participate (ask questions, discuss, be involved), but they don't have to present at their first BarCamp (unless they are a sponsor).

    Another option would be to have a panel containing all first time attendees. Let them introduce themselves, say what the are working on, and why they came to BarCamp.

    Jen

  • http://tantek.com/ Tantek
  • Rehan Zaidi

    <p>I think Dave Winer's <a href="http://scripting.wordpress.com/2006/03/05/what-is-an-unconference/&quot; target="_blank">description of an unconference</a> (thanks for the link from the Rules of BarCamp page, Tantek) is less intimidating to newbies than statements like 'Attendees must give a demo, a session, or help with one' or 'If this is your first time at BarCamp, you HAVE to present'. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>And I also like what Winer posted <a href="http://www.bloggercon.org/II/newbies&quot; target="_blank">here</a> for the BloggerCon unconference: 'We don't have speakers, slide shows or panels. Repeat that please. No panels, no PowerPoints, no speakers. We do have discussions and sessions, and each session has a discussion leader.' To me, that makes a lot of sense and seems the kind of participation that works well. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Maybe that's the intent of BarCampTdot anyway (I didn't attend the first one, so I don't know how it all turns out in the end). But if that's the case, then perhaps the wording should be closer to what Dave Winer has written about unconferencing.</p>

  • Rehan Zaidi

    I think Dave Winer's description of an unconference (thanks for the link from the Rules of BarCamp page, Tantek) is less intimidating to newbies than statements like 'Attendees must give a demo, a session, or help with one' or 'If this is your first time at BarCamp, you HAVE to present'.

    And I also like what Winer posted here for the BloggerCon unconference: 'We don't have speakers, slide shows or panels. Repeat that please. No panels, no PowerPoints, no speakers. We do have discussions and sessions, and each session has a discussion leader.' To me, that makes a lot of sense and seems the kind of participation that works well.

    Maybe that's the intent of BarCampTdot anyway (I didn't attend the first one, so I don't know how it all turns out in the end). But if that's the case, then perhaps the wording should be closer to what Dave Winer has written about unconferencing.

  • Connie Crosby

    <p>I've been signed up for Mesh for weeks, but this is the first that I have happened upon a discussion of BarCamp for Toronto. Too bad they haven't advertised this from over on their site. The TorCamp wiki doesn't give enough information about what this is for those of us who haven't been following the progress of the various Camps. I had to dig around to find information about it, and finally found this discussion in your blog. You might want to post a summary about what BarCamp is about on the TorCamp.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Thanks!</p>

  • http://conniecrosby.blogspot.com Connie Crosby

    I've been signed up for Mesh for weeks, but this is the first that I have happened upon a discussion of BarCamp for Toronto. Too bad they haven't advertised this from over on their site. The TorCamp wiki doesn't give enough information about what this is for those of us who haven't been following the progress of the various Camps. I had to dig around to find information about it, and finally found this discussion in your blog. You might want to post a summary about what BarCamp is about on the TorCamp.

    Thanks!

  • Randy Charles Morin

    <p>Sorry wasn't able to make it today or tomorrow. A wife thing.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I was looking for a 'this is Spam' checkbox, but didn't find one. So, I picked 'this is not Spam' instead. A white lie.</p>

  • http://www.kbcafe.com/toronto Randy Charles Morin

    Sorry wasn't able to make it today or tomorrow. A wife thing.

    I was looking for a 'this is Spam' checkbox, but didn't find one. So, I picked 'this is not Spam' instead. A white lie.