This past weekend saw a first for IBM South Bank as it played host to Barcamp London 7, the seventh time a the Barcamp unconference had been held in London (I know this, because I asked @thehodge why it was called Barcamp London 7, and he said it was because it was the seventh one… cunning!). South Bank is not often used for events at the weekend, and certainly not for events of 200 excited techies, creative types and those wanting to run their own talks on subjects as diverse as Failure, the TV series Lost, CSS design, niche bands you should be listening to, a photography project involving a rubber duck, life drawing, and Enterprise Software Patterns.
The IBM side of the event organisation was largely the effort of Zoe Slattery, although a host of us volunteered to help support the external organisers, and several IBM folks attended. Attendance at a Barcamp is free and the event is supported and funded by sponsors. It was great to mingle and chat with people I’d met at similar events, friends, and others I was connecting with for the first time.
The way that a Barcamp is organised is that there is no set agenda – attendees turn up and volunteer to speak for 20 minutes on a topic of their choice (and these topics can be very diverse). We used something like 12 or 13 rooms and I believe we had nearly 200 available session slots spanning the 2 day period from 10am on Saturday through until 5pm on the Sunday. By the end of Saturday almost the entire session “grid” was filled. It is a Barcamp tradition that first timers are expected to give at least one session… in the end, I gave two.
There’s an event on Slideshare where the decks for those that used slides are being collected, but there was a huge range of different topics and styles (including my own favourite, Ben Fletcher’s Fingerspelling lesson, which had us learning the alphabet in British Sign Language at increasingly higher speeds!)
The overnight stay went well – there were a few party games and many, many discussions on Saturday evening. A good time had by all, judging from the tweets and photos.
The staff at South Bank were exceptional, working the weekend and remaining in great spirits, helped by the sunny dispositions of the Barcamp attendees. All in all it was a great success, and I hope that we’ll be able to get involved in more of these kinds of events!