Barcamp Gent 3

Barcamp Gent 3, the one that took place yesterday is probably going to be my last Barcamp in Belgium. I already had my doubts upfront when looking at the suggested talks, but once there I realized it was much worse than I expected.

Lemme repoint you folks to what I wrote about the first Barcamp in Belgium back in 2006

Maybe my expectations on what kind of people / talks to meet and see there were a bit wrong.. when looking at other barcamps where people such as whurley and Moshe were present, I was maybe hoping for a bit more of system level innovation etc. or at least more technology innovation rather than Bloggers meet and talk about Blogging tools. I wasn't sure on what I should talk about as most of the topics I usually speak about would have been so out of scope and probably wouldn't have reached any potientiel audience.

So for 3+ years I kept hoping for change, there's always an amount of interesting people that show up that make the day interesting, but yesterday there were timeslots with no relevant topics for me at all. Don't get me wrong ... I really liked Ine's presentation preparing to travel and work for a year, but that's not why I go to Barcamp. Maybe it was because people that normally wouldn't give a presentation were forced to give a presentation and came up with these kind of topics, or maybe it's because Barcamps have changed, luckily there were different other talks tackling the Semantic Web, Hackerspaces etc that did catch my attention.

But maybe the majority of Belgian Barcampers needs to realize that what they want is not a Barcamp but TwitCamp, Blogcamp or maybe even LifeCamp, For me topics such as Pension Plans, Makeup, Beer, Travel Advice, etc don't belong on a Barcamp. I`m not part or the Belgian Twitter and Bloggers community, I`m part the Belgian Tech community, blogging on Open Source and new technologies . But when someone tells me "Hey there the Paris Hilton of the Belgian Bloggers" my reaction is ,wtf is Paris Hilton and why should I care

The best talk of Barcamp this year was a talk titled "Where are my Keys" , Elise was running around with a problem, and a partial solution, the discussion and input during that talk could have lead to actuall building something and nferis nferis
I'm not alone with this opinion, Some people already gave their opinion about the Belgian Barcamps buy just not showing up anymore ... and in other parts of the world other barcamps seem to have the same problems.

Barcamp has had his different spinoffs. There's GovCamp, MobileCamps, CaseCamp, NoSQLCamp, SQLCamp, CloudCamp, DemoCamp, LAMPCamp , WordCamps, DrupalCamps and many more ... and you'll probably bump into me on the more specialized ones .. given enough Android topics you'll see me at a MobileCamp, you'll see me at LoadAys (a new conf on Linux and Open Source Administration topics), DevopsDays . I hope to be able to go to the new and upcoming Hackerspaces a bit more

Unless the next Barcamp heads back in another direction :)

But until long thnx for al the fish


Adam Fletcher's picture

#1 Adam Fletcher : BarCamp Boston


My experience at the Boston, Massachusetts USA BarCamp over the years has been:

year 1: All sorts of VCs looking for anyone with a web 2.0 idea, people speaking about getting funding, maybe 5 tech talks over the 2 days. The VC people and talking about startups wasn't what I was looking for.

year 2: More technical, less VC, but still more web-2.0 ideas/not enough technology for me.

year 3: Much more technology. I think the web 2.0 people got to implementing and found all the neat problems that go on when you move from idea to product. I also think the venue for year 3 (MIT) was a big improvement and helped bring the nerds out.

Year 3 also brought people doing talks on stuff like Sous Vide cooking and other non-computer topics. I liked the mix, but if it became all non-computer I'd just start another series of un-conferences. Which is what you should do - DevOpsCamp. :)

Dimitri Van Heucke's picture

#2 Dimitri Van Heucke : I agree with Wolf. BarCamp

I agree with Wolf.

BarCamp is evolving towards a more general audience and thus sessions are evolving to more mainstream topics.
This evolution will eventually push away the people who are interested in the original BarCamps. Those people will find a way, most likely spinoffs, to get their boxes ticked.

If the topics are forced back to the tech direction, other people will be disappointed and find/create spinoffs for their interests.

For me the mix of all topics and people is what makes these things worth while. The community will find its ways an when (as in: now) the need people will create the opportunity for more specialized events.

Amedee Van Gasse's picture

#3 Amedee Van Gasse : DevOpsCamp

I promise you, if I ever find a suitable location in or around Sint-Niklaas, I will announce it as DevOpsCamp.

whurley's picture

#4 whurley : Each camp will be different, still...

Yo Kris, and hello Belgian Barcampers :)

It's important to remember that every camp will be different. However, if you're calling something just "BarCamp" that does usually imply that there will be more than one focus. i.e. it's a generic that's usually modified when you're talking about a specific focus. For example preDevCamp (for Palm Pre Developers), iPhoneDevCamp (for iPhone Developers), and events like "ARCamp" (focused on Augmented reality) all give the attendees an idea of what to expect at the event.

While I think it's great that there is a Barcamp Gent 3. There's an important reminder I'd like to make to everyone reading this post. BarCamp's are inclusive, not exclusive. That means that the event should be representative of the local community and community interest (if it's called generically "BarCamp X), and not of the instigators/organizers interest. If the community of Belgian Barcampers is primarily made up of bloggers, then it sounds like this event hit the mark. However, from Kris post (and a few other things I've seen) it sounds like there are probably a number of people feeling "left out".

Now there is a simple remedy to all of this:

If Barcamp Gent 3 is primarily bloggers, etc. then perhaps you should consider calling it "BlogCampBelgium" so that people know what to expect when they come there. Likewise, Kris (and anyone else for that matter) can form something like TechCampBelgium (or something better sounding) so that there's an event focused on what they care about. You see that's the great thing about BarCamp, it's a community mark and it's something anyone can do.

Remember, it's not important that you have 500 people at your BarCamp, only that you have the right 5. So if there are 30 people who want a very tech focused event, just start one. :)

Wolf's picture

#5 Wolf : Yes

Barcamp has evolved into a less tech oriented event. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. I had a blast.

Kris Buytaert's picture

#6 Kris Buytaert : Not a bad thing


I never said it was a bad thing ... it 's just not my thing anymore :)

elise's picture

#7 elise : thanks, I did enjoy your talk

thanks, I did enjoy your talk too, devops is still fairly new to me !
I thought there were a fair amount of tech talks though - I went to the Haskell presentation, steffest'one was about tinkering as well, devops, heard about jolicloud, and iso9001 for a (relatively) small business is also fairly relevant i think ...
(the only really non-tech ones i went to were pizza and improvisation)
it would be a shame for people like you to stop showing up :) i don't know.
the cynical side of me also notes that there might be customers and potential subcontractors at such events that you won't find at uebergeeky spots.

Kris Buytaert's picture

#8 Kris Buytaert : some indeed

There were some techtalks ineed.. but it was a minority :(

I missed Stef's talk coz I wanted to see Bruno's too..