BarCamp Earth – Toronto

Next weekend marks the first anniversary of the series of “unconferences” called BarCamp. The concept originally started as a complimentary event to Tim O’Reilly ultra-exclusive CampFoo, his annual gathering of a hundred or so people who he’s identified as the top “thought-leaders” etc. in various, typically tech-oriented, industries.

As part of the anniversary the plan was hatched to do “BarCamp Earth” to coincide with the anniversary. BarCamp Earth will be a weekend where simultaneous (or as close as possible) BarCamps will be held all over the world. From the first BarCamp in San Francisco last year the event has spread like wildfire and, at last count, there will be BarCamps happening in no less than 19 locations, many in North America but some in Europe, as well India. There’s even a virtual BarCamp happening online.

BarCamp is called an “unconference” as it operates a little different then any typical conference you might go to There’s no big corporate sponsors (sponsorship is limited to $250/organization or person), no keynotes and, until the morning of, no set schedule except for a start & end time, and some breaks throughout the day. Everyone who attends is expected to “participate”. Participation takes a few forms but typically it’s either delivering a presentation, leading a session/panel or assisting with the previous two options. At the start of the morning the proposed sessions are brought forward and scheduled on the fly based on the amount of interest in each topic and the “unconference” begins. Did I mention it’s generally free to boot?

So far it’s been a pretty good success – as you can probably see just by the scale of BarCamp Earth one year later. It’s also spawned a series of other events such as DemoCamp (a Toronto creation), which is how I came to learn about BarCamp.

In a moment of weakness about 3 weeks ago I volunteered to help organize the Toronto version of this event. (Because between a start-up business and a 22 month old the one thing I have too much of is free time :) ). Myself, James Woods, Ryan McKegney, Dmitry Buterin, Bryce Johnson, Maria Smirnova and Dave Forde have been working at putting the event together since that point and everything is starting to fall into place.

The event is going to be held next Saturday, August 26 and Sunday, August 27 and Microsoft Canada has kindly agreed to let us use their downtown MSN Canada office as the venue for this event. The registration form went up yesterday and we’ll be posting some more information on format and timelines today. If you’re interested in helping build up Toronto’s tech community, meeting a great network of people and willing to jump right in and participate please consider signing up.

New for this BarCamp (this is the third Toronto BarCamp) we’ll be adding a bit of a “BarCamp Newbie Orientation” first thing in the morning where anyone who hasn’t been before can wade in and ask all the questions they want to calm any fears about looking foolish (hard to do – it’s a friendly bunch), not knowing what’s going on or understanding what is expected of you as a participant. (Heck – I’m a first time BarCamper myself)

Drop me a comment or email (in profile) if you’re planning on attending so I can be sure to meet you on the day. I’m personally going to try to put together a session on translation & localization, what developers need to be aware of as they wade into these areas and the importance of considering them when developing applications.

– Ryan

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