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Participants in the first BarCamp simultaneously comment, listen, and follow along on their screens.

BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants. The first BarCamps focused on early-stage web applications, and related open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats. The format has also been used for a variety of other topics, including public transit, health care, and political organizing.


[edit] History

The name "BarCamp" is a playful allusion to the event's origins, with reference to the hacker slang term, foobar: BarCamp arose as a spin-off of Foo Camp, an annual invitation-only participant driven conference hosted by open source publishing luminary Tim O'Reilly.

The first BarCamp was held in Palo Alto, California, from August 19-21, 2005, in the offices of Socialtext. It was organized in less than one week, from concept to event, with 200 attendees. Since then, BarCamps have been held in over 350 cities around the world, in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Australasia and Asia. To mark the one-year anniversary of BarCamp, BarCampEarth was held in multiple locations world wide on August 25-27, 2006. The second-year anniversary of BarCamp, BarCampBlock was held in Palo Alto at the original location, but also over a three block radius on August 18-19, 2007, and was attended by over 800 people.

[edit] Influence

By "open-sourcing" the organizational process of Foo Camp, that is, codifying it in a wiki and making that publicly available, BarCamp seems to have struck a chord. Beyond the BarCamp-branded network to which the first event gave rise, it quickly became a model for user generated conferences in other fields or for more specialized applications, ranging from WordCamp and PodCamp to Seattle Mind Camp, to name a few. There is even a new variant on this user-focused event called a MiniBarCamp. The involvement of key figures in the web development community, such as Tantek Çelik and Ross Mayfield, no doubt helped its adoption.

[edit] Structure and participatory process

BarCamps are organized and evangelized largely through the web, harnessing what might be called a Web 2.0 communications toolkit. Anyone can initiate a BarCamp, using the BarCamp wiki.

The procedural framework consists of sessions proposed and scheduled each day by attendees, mostly on-site, typically using white boards or paper taped to the wall. This is a form of the open-space approach and has been dubbed, with another play on words, The Open Grid approach.

While loosely structured, there are rules at BarCamp. All attendees are encouraged to present or facilitate a session. Everyone is also asked to share information and experiences of the event, both live and after the fact, via public web channels including (but not limited to) blogging, photo sharing, social bookmarking, twittering, wiki-ing, and IRC. This open encouragement to share everything about the event is in deliberate contrast to the "off the record by default" and "no recordings" rules at many private invite-only participant driven conferences.

[edit] Hosting and attending

Venues typically provide basic services. Free network access, usually WiFi, is crucial. Following the model of Foo Camp, the venue also makes space for the attendees, a.k.a. BarCampers, to literally camp out overnight. Thus, BarCamps rely on securing sponsorship, ranging from the venue and network access to beverages and food.

Attendance is typically monetarily free and generally restricted only by space constraints. Participants are asked, though, to sign up in advance.

[edit] Historical precedents

This form of self-organized user generated conferences are conceptually related to hackers' meetings in Europe, especially those nearer to anarchism and autonomism, happening since the '90s in Temporary Autonomous Zones or other occupied places. The procedural framework of BarCamp borrows some elements (particularly the Agenda Wall) from the Open Space methodology for organizing meetings. Also, the BoF sessions of IETF meetings may have provided inspiration. However, BarCamps lack the political motivations and are actually quite integrated with the mainstream ICT industry, often getting substantial sponsorships from major corporations.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

BarCamp locations
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