(Already crossposted to facebook – with a couple comments there.)
So I went to BarCamp Vancouver 07 last Saturday. I was… underwhelmed.
Having never attended a BarCamp before, I was pretty excited, since everyone I know who has gone has always spoken quite highly of them. But I just wasn’t feeling the love and/or usefulness.
I suppose this makes sense if, like me, you actually enjoy traditional conferences. I like seeing the conference theme, session briefs, schedules. I like planning ahead to see what’s coming up and scheduling my conference experience. Hyper-organization thrills me in a special way.
BarCamp, being an “unconference” is the antitheses of this. While some sessions are determined ahead of time, much of the content and the entirety of the schedule is done up “on the fly” – set the morning of the gathering with the potential to change during the day.
I’d seen a couple sessions I was definitely interested in on the Wiki – but after the “scheduling jam” was held, they all turned out to be after 2:00pm.
Considering I’d shown up at 8:30 for breakfast, session and scheduling jam and introductions – by the time I found out what would be taking place when (settled at 10:00am), I wasn’t really in any mood to hang around.
I did attend one of the first presentations of the day and was mostly interested – but 11:00am – 2:00pm felt like a LONG four hours to fill. I could’ve hung out and tried to make friends – but I’m a bit useless in large groups like that. My socializing and networking abilities seem to dissolve in groups larger than about 20.
Also, generally when I attend a conference, the sessions and presentations are organized around a central theme. There are usually a few sessions I’m really interested in, and some that only tangentially touch on stuff I want to know. But at least they’re 90% relevant to the theme of the conference.
Since BarCamp is an all-inclusive unconference, the sessions only follow the theme of “are you interested/expert enough in something to talk about it? then do so!”
That’s a huge draw for some, but not really for me. It meant that sessions ran the gamut from social media to ADHD to Drupal theming, to open source business development to apple widgets to social responsibility using the web to mainframes to cameraphones to advertising.
And most of that stuff, well I just don’t give a damn about it. It might be interesting stuff to many attendees, but not to me. Actually, not true. Had there been an “intro to Drupal” session, I might’ve attended – but why would I attend a session on Drupal theming when I hardly know what Drupal itself is? Same with the apple widgets. Cool, but I use a PC/Linux setup.
So yes. I left. And didn’t return for the sessions I wanted to see in the afternoon, because by then I was tired and didn’t feel like the 30 minute bus trip back across town. I’m sure I missed out. But I’m not that worried about it.
I came, I saw, and I’ve decided that BarCamp just isn’t for me. Anyone else feel that way, or am I the oddball in this one?