Barcamp Sheffield – A Barcamp Virgin's Impressions

Last weekend I attended Barcamp Sheffield 2.1 much fun was had by all. This was my first barcamp and I have to admit it had rather a profound effect on me (as some will have noticed on the day or from my tweets).

The barcamp format is unlike any traditional conference, there are no prearranged sessions or talks, its all arranged by the attendees there and then. This invigorates the event with such a dynamic social energy, everyone seems to be drawn to it. I knew what to expect from a barcamp, but I never expected the commitment, openness and friendlyness of all the attendees.

Barcamp Sheffield was a little different to many barcamps, there was no camping and the event ran from Friday to Sunday rather than Saturday to Sunday. Some barcamps use the Friday night as a pre-party, but this tends to preclude virigin attendees, Sheffield used this as an ideal ice breaker and created a big kick of activity ready for Saturday to start in earnest, which helped a lot seen as there was high proportion of barcamp virgins.

I know some of the oganisers, so I was asked to volunteer (disclaimer: this may make me biased, but everyone I met said it was excellent!), turning up just about on time on the Friday night, it wasn’t long before the event was in full swing with some very amusing adhoc presentation voice overs and much beer (some free) being consumed.

The sessions started in earnest on Saturday morning, after much coffee and necessary breakfast. I think I only attended 4 or 5 over the two days, all of which were very interesting. I’d completely forgotten how much functional programming blew my mind, found out how hard it is to organise a barcamp or train students in agile programming and how complicated friendship and language can be.

Equally as important as the organised sessions were the adhoc conversations I had all weekend, I can’t remember the last time I met so many interesting people, full of insights and amusement all in one weekend. I came away feeling refreshed in the spirit of the geek community and hopefully with a number of new friends (and some shocking tiredness, having fun and chatting takes a lot of energy).

Barcamp Sheffield confirmed two things for me, that self organising social groups can and are very effective and that Sheffield (and the UK) has a thriving geek society which I deeply want to become more a part of.

The only downside to all of this, is that I’m completely exhausted and craving more!

7 thoughts on “Barcamp Sheffield – A Barcamp Virgin's Impressions

  1. Dave King

    Totally agree about the random conversations in the corridors, really valuable. Especially useful was getting to get to know people in lots of local companies which I’d consider applying to once I’m done at uni, or for some kind of summer internship.

  2. Pingback: » Blog Archive » BarCamp Sheffield Diary: Sunday

  3. Ian Ibbotson

    Smart write up Marc, was a great weekend, many thanks for all your efforts.

    I don’t know if anyone knows this but Marc was so committed (alone) on the registration desk on sunday morning that by the time he got to eating there were only two rashers of bacon left. Not to self: Next year make it my duty to deliver food to volunteers *before* the rest of the campers get in on the action.

    Cheers Marc, heres to the next one! Bigger, Longer and Uncut! (as it were)

  4. Josie

    Hi Marc
    I didn’t realise you were manning the Sunday reg by yourself – bravo!
    I think I’ll stay over next time. Travelling to Leeds and back each day was tough.
    Echoing the drained but addicted feeling!
    Glad you enjoyed it too :)

  5. marcj

    Thanks for the comments everyone! Though Ian you are definately overstating my involvement, I merely played a very small part in something you and the other organisers put your heart and soul into.


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