My friend Jay Cross (Informal Learning) wrote an article Geek Gatherings, in which he (as is typical for Jay) progresses from thought to thought, starting by defining and refining the word geek, but ending up at BAR Camp. (Also see barcamp in wikipedia.) It’s a great post that you should just go read — especially if you’re sick and tired of regular conferences full of (PowerPoint) presentations and looking for a new way of doing things.
What I like most is that these un-conferences incorporate many of the same ideas from “nomadic working” which I was describing in my original “I’m a Turtle” post. (Calling myself a turtle refers to carrying my work around with me in the computer like the turtle carries his shell, not to the pace at which I work.)
Jay says “Geeks are dedicated learners. They go to great lengths to stay ahead of the curve. Not content to merely implement the ideas of others, geeks are driven to invent the future. The way they meet, share information, and conduct their meetings holds many ideas for corporate meetings, starting with the fact that the geeks love to go to meetings like the two I just returned from.” The two meetings he describes are FOO Camp and BAR Camp.
And one thing I like about BAR Camp is that people go to it and actually “camp out” – they bring a computer, and wi-fi is provided for them, and they interact and are encouraged to be online and F2F all at the same time. I made some comments a while ago about meetings being no good if people weren’t online the whole time checking out the references and looking for new ideas. And so Jay’s description really hit the spot for me.
Also for fun here’s Chris Messina’s blog trail on Barcamp.
Jay’s book Informal Learning can be purchased from Amazon.
And one more reference to un-conferences – Take Your PowerPoint And… in BusinessWeek. (Thanks to Chris for spotting this.)