Jay Cross
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BAR Camp
Monday, August 22, 2005
This weekend I attended two geek events:
  • BAR Camp, a complete conference for a hundred geeks put together, from concept to opening the doors, in six days. The first "flash conference."

  • OPML Roadshow, a product introduction conducted at Berkeley's Hillside Club, attended by digerati celebrities.
I'm gathering material for my book on Informal Learning. The way the geeks transfer information to one another and build social networks is more effective than the way corporations execute the same functions. I attended as both geek and anthropologist, and just finished writing up my notes.

I'd love to get your thoughts on this first draft of a chapter covering these events.


Anonymous Guy Dickinson said...

Hi Jay - long time, no comment... I was waiting for your post on the opml meeting (as it's berkeley, I knew you'd be attending :-) but didn't expect such detail - fantastic. Here are some thoughts for what they're worth. In an outliner, no less.

* on motivation:
bar camp was ostensibly a response to foo camp, not in a negative way, but the meme of the idea was there
attendess can identify around a common cause and goal...positive reaction to the limited numbers etc. of foo.
the camping story is fantastic - people are here because they LOVE what they do
Also, on a day to day basis, geeks don't get to geek out as they would like - these conferences have the hippy love vibe because everyone gets to release pent up idea, rants, interests and proudly show off projects to fellow believers.
* knowledge 'show offs'
Authority is decentralised - and respect is gained from provable knowledge sharing, not dick swinging.
Intellectual prowess not aggressiveness earns the stripes.


* Unconferencing
Interesting notes on unconference - agree entirely, and it's a superb antidote to meeting sickness, except they often require a benevolent dictator to kick start and enforce.
* Benevolant Dictator needed?
Listen to the audio from BloggerCon (Winer's original 'unconference') - it requires a heavy policing of the 'no commercials' rule - reminds me of the stories I've read about the hippy conventions...and how to deal with pollution from less than 100% believers.
People attended opml show because of the cult of personality around winer, his ideas and you know it's going to be a fun evening. If the meeting was the demo only, minus Winer, would it be as popular? In companies, personalities are subsumed and hidden unless at c-level. Until companies
* Lessons for corporates?
This is a toughie - being a bit cynical and british, I'd say that most employees simply don't care enough about their stuff to develop the passion that we're seeing in the events above, but actually that would be untrue (and lazy). I just don't think companies have management confidence. What you've shown is that managers need to 'move the furniture out of the way' for their people to collaborate.
* Managers as enablers- what can companies do to 'fix' collaboration?
Management has a role to play to enforce the democracy, ensure that people don't revert to powerpoint and provide the tools to share. Managers can play a powerful enablement role.
* Rally around a cause
The meetings you've highlighted reacted/congregated around a straightforward goal (balls to foocamp, winer/opml is interesting) - but meetings in companies often don't try and generate a shared goal or develop a camaraderie.

* By the way, I loved browsing Winer's photos + ambient sound you linked to..fantastic...

* I really ought to move to the West Coast...

6:23 AM  

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