BarCamb 3: Bringing Cambridge together with geekery

BarCamb 3 in Cambridge

On Monday morning, my arms, legs and brain felt like jelly. There was a sleeping bag and some schwag strewn across the living room. And I couldn’t stop smiling. Must’ve been the morning after a BarCamp!

For those who don’t know, the past few months have been spent organising BarCamb with a few other volunteers. The aim of BarCamp events is to bring people from a variety of fields of interests together to do short talks, exchange experiences and generally geek about. For more on this, I’ve written a BarCamp Virgin’s guide last year.

Since this weekend, I’ve recovered so I thought I’d gather my thoughts and write a wrap-up post before my goldfish brain forgets all the best bits.

This weekend included:

  • 54 presentations
  • 10 sponsors
  • 26 trays of sandwiches
  • 45 litres of fizzy drinks
  • 30 pizzas
  • 100 BarCamb mugs & tshirts
  • 1 episode of Doctor Who on the big screen
  • 2 knackered organisers & some sleepy volunteers
  • half a dozen games of Werewolf
  • a few months of preparation
  • 80 or so people who hopefully had a great time!

As an organiser, I attended more sessions this time than with the previous two BarCamps I organised. Probably mainly due to having a fantastic co-organiser, Lee, and a brilliant venue provided by Red Gate in the Cambridge Business Park.

When we kicked off the event, I asked for a show of hands to see how many newbies we had – I was both thrilled and worried that we had nearly 50% newbies. Why worried? Because usually newbies are a bit nervous of presenting and leave the board looking a bit bare for the first day. I couldn’t have been any more wrong because as soon as I invited people to put their topics up on the board, it was like the IKEA stampede and I had to flee the area!

Saturday went by like a blur, attending a few good sessions, feeding over 70 ravenous BarCampers at lunch, more sessions in the afternoon including my own on baked-in virality. As we stretched into the evening, it was comedy to see a group huddle into one of the rooms to religiously watch Doctor Who over pizza and beer.

As all good BarCamps must do, the evening turned into a night of Werewolves, Settlers and the occasional snorer in the corner…

On Sunday, the turnout was smaller but the sessions were still great. We finished mid-afternoon, cleared up the Red Gate office and many of the survivors headed to the pub. (I was pooped, I went straight home!)

You can find a few of the presentations of the weekend on Slideshare, with more coming soon, I’m sure. Some of the presentations topics are listed here, and we’ll aim to add the full list in the near future. There are also some great (and some not so great) photos in the BarCamb Flickr group.

A few attendees asked whether Cambridge Geek Nights were being revived and, in the light of how much interest there is, I suppose we might just have to do that! Beers, geekery and chatting coming soon to a Cambridge pub near you.

[Photo credit: Networking through the day, photo by Martin88, All rights reserved]

SocialMediaCamp London 09: A Few Lessons Learned

New mothers apparently say that after they hold their newborn in their arms, they forget almost all the pain of the laborious process (literally!) that preceded. I think this week, I can see what they mean.

On Saturday, April 25th, the second SocialMediaCamp London was held at Wallacespace St Pancras after a long gestation period. The event itself is fairly simple; BarCamps are “unconferences” and therefore there are no speakers to book and manage. smcstart-1The venue is fabulous and the team there make my life incredibly easy by being such a well-oiled machine. The only pain was the sponsorship issues I encountered, which was resolved by making the event a single day instead of the original intended two days.

In general, the event was fantastic; there were some stellar presentations, on topics ranging from “What to do with a corporate Twitter account?” to “Porn & social media: A practical guide to working with ‘adult’ content” and a discussion on LARP to one on how to help PR agencies collaborate better with bloggers (“PR agencies want your soul”). The weirdness of presentations can pretty much be summed up in a single photo by Neil Crosby.

The day was topped off by what I hear was a comedy Scavenger Photo Hunt, organised by Kat Neville. “I hear” because by that point, my knees had turned to Jell-O and so had my brain, so I had to skip on the photohunt, as brilliant as it seemed.

A few days from the event now, and I’m still basking in the glow of a great day, filled with new and known faces, creative ideas & suggestions. I’ve pretty much forgotten about the faff of the weeks leading up to the event and am already thinking about doing it again.

As  far as the homepage of my blog is concerned, this is where the post ends. If you’re interested in a few contentious aspects of the event, then read on.

Continue reading

Events Galore: SMCLondon & Cambridge Geek Nights

Since organising the first SocialMediaCamp London in October, I’ve been trying to convince myself that I don’t have the event planning bug. No no no, I don’t need to spend time organising events. Must focus on running my new business. Right?

Well… it’s not working, I’m finding myself daydreaming about hearing more people’s views on the weird and wonderful industry we spend our days (and nights, and weekends) immersed in. And somehow, I’ve found myself leading two upcoming events:

First, a second SocialMediaCamp London, which we’ll be holding at the same gorgeous Wallacespace St-Pancras venue as last time on 25-26th April. The first round of tickets went out on Thursday morning, disappearing in all of 9 minutes. I feel like a mother who has to choose between her children, being contacted left, right and centre by people who didn’t manage to get a ticket but want in! Thankfully, there’s another round of tickets on Monday. I simply can’t wait for our two-day event, as last time, not only were presentations great, but the people I met were also brilliant. The challenge is to survive two days!

The second event is only just beginning to take shape; Cambridge Geek Nights. There have been Geek Nights in Oxford for some years now, and replicating the evening gathering concept here in Cambridge seems to have some potential. No venue or date has been decided yet, but it will hopefully become an opportunity for geeks, entrepreneurs and freelancers to get together to exchange ideas, meet potential new connections and people to work with. I view it as an opportunity to get together, without suits or sales pitches. Plus it involves drinking beer. Geeks are always up for beer.

In fact, if you’re interested in CGN, leave a comment or @vero me and I’ll ensure we keep you updated when we pick a date for the first one!

I suppose it’s a bug I can’t fight – I love getting people together, whether it’s for dinner parties or social events, so hopefully you’ll join me at either of the above. But for now, I need some sleep!

SocialMediaCamp London 09: Rallying the troops!

smc_small

Earlier this week, I announced that the planning for the second SocialMediaCamp London was beginning to take shape.

In October 2008, 100 geeks, creatives and social media’ites gathered for the first SMCLondon, which was both a success and a hell of a lot of fun. So we’re doing it again in April, and we need you!

Find out more about what’s happening on the SocialMediaCamp blog, but if you want to get involved, here are some of the responsibilities to be assigned; Sponsor wrangler, Backchannel boss, Venue scout, T-Shirts & Stickers master, Food czar, Badges & signs design artist, Evening drinks & Saturday night happenings rockstar, Video streaming guru, Event cheerleader & promoter, etc…

If you want to help out, email me on vero@thatcanadiangirl.co.uk with a note on what you’d like to do, and remember that all help, whether beforehand or on the day, is welcome! I’ll be posting the sponsorship information soon, so if you think your boss (or you, if you’re the boss!) want to contribute a bit, get in touch and I’ll send you the sponsorship pack.

Last time, tickets went like hotcakes and all hundred were gone in under 3 hours, so if you want to attend, be sure to sign up to the newsletter (in the left sidebar) so you can be first to find out when the tickets will be released!

SocialMediaCamp London: A Look Back At The Many Themes

Do you ever look back at past achievements and feel yourself swell with pride because, with hindsight, you now realise how well you and others did?

This morning, poking around Flickr, I came across Tom’s photo of the schedule board at SocialMediaCamp London, which was back in October. We gathered 100 attendees, many of which chose to present on a topic of their choice, kicking off interesting conversations and collaborations amongst participants. Since I didn’t get to attend every presentation, some titles still puzzle me, but here is the full list of panel/presentation/discussion topics:

socialmediacamplondon_schedule

  • How to write awesome headlines – Tom Whitwell, The Times
  • Social Media as Community Activism: From International Networks to a local perspective – Salford Social Media Centre
  • Love is in the air – Jonny & Jayme, Glue
  • How/Why Moderate Masses (180,000 users) – The Sun Online
  • Social Media: How Not To Get Fucked – Girl With a One Track Mind
  • How to Replace CNN with Something Nicer: IPTV
  • How Hedgehogs can Inspire Social Media – Carl @Fellowcreative
  • Entreprise Microblogging is More Than Twitter: A First Look at Brand New Microblogging System – Communote.com
  • Lifestreaming your Life Online – Ande Gregson & Paul Kane, Sky
  • Buzz Management For Startups: How to Build Workflow so Everyone Knows What’s Going On – Jure C
  • Relationship Counselling for PRs and Bloggers – Paul Borge
  • Legal Aspects of Social Media – Victoria McEvedy
  • Digital Yoga & The New Religion of the Web – Rohan
  • One (wo)man Social Media Empire-Life! – Lloyd Davis
  • Twitter for the Environment – Carmen
  • Man Boobs, Incest, Sarah Palin and The Times: How We Do SEO @ Times Online – Mariana Bettio
  • The Social Graph: Who Owns It? What Is It?
  • DIY PR: How to Get PR For Your Startup (Please Fire your PR Firm/Agency)
  • Native To a Web of Dudes – David Thompson
  • How to Present to Big Scary Companies (And Look Like You Know What You’re Doing) – Terence Eden, Vodafone
  • Alternate Reality Games
  • Social Media For Good: Respite For Carers, A Project in Development (Discussion)
  • We’re All Chemicals: Social Objects on the Social Web, Socialising – Dan Donald
  • 6 Degrees of Separation Now – Benjamin Ellis
  • Programmer-Journalists or Journalist-Programmers (Group Discussion) – Mark Ng
  • How to Use LinkedIn To Get a Better Job
  • TV III Branding: The Management Of Television Brands in The Digital Age – Will Prestes
  • Staying Pseudonymous On & Offline
  • Scrumping 2.0: A Model for Wider Community Involvement?
  • Digital Footprint
  • If you Work in Marketing or Advertising, Kill Yourself Now – Chris Applegate
  • Data Portability – Ben Godfrey
  • The Web of Babel: Managing Languages on the Web – Chrys
  • Akoha: The Social Reality Game – Emma Persky
  • Online Reputation Management: It’s Not All Bad
  • Ideas Into Action: Developing a Toolkit for Collaborative & Community Projects – Alison
  • Print & Online Social Media: Can You Make It Work? – The London Paper
  • Measuring Engagement of Social Media Websites in the Web 2.0 World
  • Managing Online Identity & Personal Brand – Vero Pepperrell
  • 7 Secrets to Facebook Fundraising
  • Blogging Breakdown & How to Avoid It – Annie Mole
  • Social Media Bingo Session

A few presentation notes made their way on the SMCLondon blog and quite a few have been posted to Slideshare under the tag “smclondon08” so, if like me you want to reminisce, or didn’t have the chance to attend, have a look!

I can’t help but wonder what trend similarities and changes we’ll see at SocialMediaCamp London v.2.0… Want to get involved in the second SMCLondon? Drop me a line as the planning is only just beginning and we always welcome an extra pair of hands!

A new year, a new beginning & a new challenge

It’s been radio silence on that canadian girl for the past few weeks, but certainly not because I haven’t had anything to say. These past few weeks have been some of the most eventful ones of my life, in fact.

Just over a month ago, I officially became my own boss, kicking my social media consulting work up a notch. Then, during our week-long holiday to Menorca, I turned 27, realising I’m a year older – and hopefully wiser.

At the beginning of 2008, my themeword was exploration and it couldn’t be any more relevant today.

I wanted to explore my own abilities, and chose to organise SocialMediaCamp London, a one-day BarCamp event covering topics surrounding blogs, podcasts, lifecasting, community, using new media cleverly, marketing ethics, social networks now and in the future. The event was this past weekend, and I have to admit, I’m unspeakably happy about it. I’m thrilled with how the day went, I’m proud of the level of participation from the attendees and I’m excited about the opportunities for future events.

So ahead of me lie many new challenges, but you know what? I can’t wait to bite into them over the next few months.

The BarCamp Virgin's Guide: Making the most of your first BarCamp

What is a BarCamp?

Wikipedia’s description is BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants — often focusing on early-stage web applications, and related open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats.”

Got your head around that one? Yeah, it’s a bit dry. This post should demystify a little what happens at a BarCamp event, and what you can get out of spending your weekend with geeks rather than chilling out at home.

Totally different to regular conferences, BarCamps are more open and less structured. This means, when you arrive, you’re likely to see this kind of grid, where you can jot down what you’d like to talk about. It’s an opportunity for people from all backgrounds and all skill levels to have a go at sharing some knowledge.

Sounds scary? It’s not essential that you present in front of a group using a Powerpoint presentation and a laser pointer while wearing a suit. In fact, suits are definitely not recommended.

Where do I find out about events like this?

Check out the BarCamp homepage for events in your area, look out on Upcoming.org or ask fellow Twitter users for suggestions.

Keep a close eye on registrations since tickets tend to go quickly, with gatherings ranging from twenty to hundreds, depending on how brave the organisers are and how large the venue is.

How can I prepare?

  • Have a think about the general theme of the event & associated topics that interest you: Could you talk about any experiences you’ve had, questions you’ve answered by either successfully completing a project or, if you’re brave, through a failure you’ve gone through.
  • Look at the list of attendees, which should be public… Anyone you’re burning to meet and get to know? The day will fly by so be sure to go say hi at the first opportunity!
  • Have an open mind: Join a session on a topic you know nothing about, play a game of Werewolf with new friends or start a conversation with the next stranger you meet.
  • Arrive on time: Come early if you want/can help with registration and setup, but don’t show up too late or you might miss on some of the social activity and goodies.

Tackling your first presentation

Presentation slots are generally 30-40 minutes, so you don’t need to do a doctorate thesis. It’s definitely not all about monologuing in front of the group for the full half-hour, it’s about sharing your experiences, asking others to pitch in with ideas or just leading a useful conversation.

  • Present something simple that people with less experience, who are new to the industry might be interested in.
  • Not sure what level of knowledge others will have? Present something completely wild and silly (“how to make the perfect margarita” was a hit at a past BarCamp I hear)
  • Nervous about being in front of people? Do a shared presentation with someone who complements your skills well. You’ll have someone to lean on when you’re not sure what to say next, and it’s more fun together.

But I’m not a spotlight kind of guy/gal…

Still getting cold feet? You can still help in a number of ways. The organisers are volunteers and (generally) have only two hands each. So if you’re not too keen on doing a presentation, why not lend a hand with registration, coffee breaks, cleaning up or setting up the A/V system?

One of the best bits of a BarCamp is the memories you take home with you. But if you’re like me and you have the memory of a goldfish, the key is to capture the event in some way. So why not offer to blog or record the event on video or in photos? If you’re a podcaster, create a VoxPop clip with the participants.

What do I need to pack?

Wherever possible, you’ll be able to stay on-site overnight for the BarCamp. You’ll find yourself staying up late chatting, coding or playing games. If that’s the case, you’ll need some of the following:

  • Laptop if you want to blog or take notes during the event. Don’t forget your charger (and adaptor if the event is abroad!) and your screen adaptor if you need to plug into a projector.
  • Business cards: Moo cards come highly recommended. Make sure you have somewhere safe to store the cards you’re given.
  • Scribble notebook & pen: You might not want to have your laptop out at all times, so pen and paper is essential.
  • Power strip: If you can, bring a power bar to plug into the much-coveted few outlets. It’ll allow more people to benefit from power during the day.
  • Video/photo camera: Immortalise the day in video and photos. Be sure to upload your content and tag it with the event’s hashtags (eg. #smclondon08 for SocialMediaCamp London 2008) and put a Creative Commons friendly copyright.
  • Money: Some events provide food, thanks to the sponsors, but others don’t, so come prepared to go buy lunch somewhere nearby.
  • Materials: Bring your presentation or demo (if you have one) on a USB stick or CD.
  • If the BarCamp is an overnight one, you’ll probably want to pack a sleeping bag and pillow.

What some BarCamp veterans say…

Tara ‘missrogue’ Hunt, Citizen Agency co-founder, public speaker & blogger, says:

“Personally? BarCamp was an exciting idea for me, but at first I was afraid to stand up and talk… just wanted to observe and have one on one conversations… maybe ask a few questions from the audience. After a while, though, I decided to take the leap and put myself on the speaking schedule.

I’m glad I did, because it started my career! I went from speaking at BarCamps… Really getting my chops wet and practicing my skills. I got stronger and stronger as a speaker. One day I was approached by a conference organizer who asked me to give a workshop on my ideas. Next thing I know, I’m speaking all over the world and have WAY more professional confidence than I’ve ever had. That all started with BarCamp. It gave me the opportunity to really push myself into the next level.

Mel Kirk, social media gal extraordinaire says:

My first experience of a barcamp was during SXSW and was BarCamp Austin… Totally awesome! We heard some people chatting about it and decided to drop in… I still have my pass and lanyard as it was one of my highlights. They had this awesome T-shirt station where you could buy a t-shirt and then have a number of different designs printed onto it. I didn’t have enough cash to buy one but I really wish that I had, they were gorgeous.

There was a whole buzz about the place – it was in a really cool bar – totally laid back and relaxed and I met some amazing people that I would never have otherwise have met. Because it was a lot more laid back than a normal conference-type set up, people feel more relaxed to ask the presenters questions which leads to much more of a conversation type feel rather than content being pushed to the audience.

I’d recommend a BarCamp to anyone – it’s filled with amazing talented people willing to share and discuss their knowledge… where else can you get something like that?

Nik Butler aka Loudmouthman says

“don’t let anyone convince you they are not the werewolf”

Got BarCamp stories to share? Suggestions for new attendees? Leave a comment below!

Oh hello there!

I'm Véro - a crafty, knitty, spinny gal who enjoys making (and drinking) a cocktail or three. If you've stumbled here, you might enjoy browsing some of my older posts with the tags over to the right or finding out more about me.

Say hi in the comments or on Twitter! :)

Archives