Monday, August 04, 2008

BarCampRDU 2008

This weekend I attended my first BarCampRDU, which was an incredible amount of fun. Each BarCamp is an "unconference" where the programs are not scheduled before the day of the event. For this BarCamp, hosted by RedHat, approximately 250 people registered to participate in a day full of lively, thought-provoking discussions with fellow geeks. It was tremendously fun hanging out with people I've known since college, people I've met through Twitter and other conferences and people I met this weekend, including at the pre-party at Tyler's the night before.

After the opening remarks, attendees wishing to propose topics for sessions wrote them out on sheets of paper and then pitched them to us in roughly 30 seconds.

The topics were attached to a giant schedule and everyone voted on which sessions they wanted to attend by adding check marks. Note that there were eight concurrent sessions. If you go to a conference and have trouble deciding between two or three sessions, then imagine what fun you would have at a BarCamp. The sessions satisfied a wide range of interests from technical discussions on Ruby on Rails plugins and encrypted filesystems to higher level topics, such as venture capital and even cross step waltz.

Just because nothing was firmly scheduled in advance doesn't mean that the leaders of the sessions weren't well prepared. Here you can see Nick Napp and Jim Meyer describing 10 Ways to Accelerate the Failure of a Startup, which was full of logical advice based on their experiences. I also attended sessions on markup for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), venture capital and a small informal discussion on higher education. I went to another smackdown session for Twitter lovers and haters, which was highly entertaining. Finally, I went to a late afternoon session on citizen journalism, led by Wayne Sutton and Debi Jones. Jones is leading the social media effort for the Republican National Convention and discussed a long list of tools that can be used for such efforts. I haven't met that many people who openly admit to having sold their soul.

Of course, another reason to be there was for the free food from Neomonde, generously provided by many of the event's sponsors. I enjoyed the chicken pita sandwich and the fresh fruit. They also had fresh bagels and fruit in the morning. There was plenty of coffee and there were sodas and water available throughout the day.

You can see more BarCampRDU photos.


  1. So I can't help but ask about the gender ratio. Looks pretty guy-heavy (not that there's anything wrong with that :)

  2. The ratio of men to women was extremely high. Of all the sessions, only two were proposed by women. That really didn't bother me a bit. ;)

  3. NickN3:58 PM

    Hi Lenore,

    Glad you found the presentation useful. I threw the original slides up on Scribd (see: or just search on BarCampRDU as a tag).
    I'll have to see what I can come up with for next year...

  4. Debi Jones8:52 PM

    Clearly you went to sleep during the session on citizen journalism. There's a universe of difference between "covering" the RNC and "working" for the RNC.

    There's a nifty little quote for this situation. "Better to be silent and have people think you a fool than to open your mouth and prove it."

    How it is that you think citizen journalists are selling our souls? I've covered the protests in St. Paul, the parties, and a few candidates. That's hardly the dark matter that you claim.

    Shame on you.

  5. I wonder if anyone else had the same impression that you were actually working for the RNC? As always, I welcome corrections and am often happy to find out that I am wrong.

  6. However, the nastiness in Debi's tone certainly sounds like a Republican.