What is BarCamp?

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sfradkin

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Dec 6, 2007, 10:06:45 PM12/6/07
to BarCamp
For a potential BarCampMadison promotional opportunity I was asked to
write up a little "What is BarCamp" to try to describe to someone who
has never heard of BarCamp what it is. After I ran it by a fellow
BarCampMadison organizer, he suggested that I post it to the BarCamp
list.

So, here it is. Feel free to use it and modify it if it is useful.

Scott

-------------------

What is BarCamp?

BarCamp is a technology oriented un-conference. Picture a conference
where everybody participates; with no preset schedule; where
discussions occur on-the-fly in an organic manner; where collaboration
on esoteric topics is not uncommon.

BarCamp is open to anyone who is interested in participating.
Attendees consist of programmers, engineers, managers, students,
artists, photographers, and everyone in between. The main tenant of
BarCamp is that everyone must participate. Participation options
include leading a session, helping clean up trash, helping setup,
helping at the registration table, and more.

As diverse as the attendees of a BarCamp, the sessions are just as
diverse as they are completely driven by the attendees themselves. An
attendee at a BarCamp may find sessions such as learning a new
programming language, taking a photo walk, discussing open source
tools, discussing the role of technology in a Utopia or Dystopia, or
hack sessions.

Funding for BarCamp is from solicited cash donations from various
corporations. Donations from each entity are limited so that each
cash donator is equal. Other in-kind donations of supplies,
equipment, and food are solicited from corporations and individuals.
Time and energy donations from many volunteers are also needed to put
on the event.

Most of all, BarCamp is about meeting new people, sharing knowledge
and learning new things, and having fun.

Tegan Dowling

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Dec 13, 2007, 1:11:50 PM12/13/07
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Copy-editor's observations
---------------------------------
Near-homophone alert -- this: "The main tenant of BarCamp is that
everyone must participate."
should be: "The main tenet of BarCamp is that everyone must participate."
---------------------------------
Change "cash donator" to "cash donor"
---------------------------------

Other than those house-keeping matters, this is very good -- thanks
for your work on it, and for sharing!

Chris Messina

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Dec 13, 2007, 6:01:55 PM12/13/07
to bar...@googlegroups.com
After more than 2 years after the original BarCamp, and with minimal
participation of the original founders, I find it quite incredible
that this description, written as an original document, is still very
much supporting of the original goals and ideals that BarCamp was
intended to support.

Nice work!

--
Chris Messina
Citizen-Participant &
Open Source Advocate-at-Large
Work: http://citizenagency.com
Blog: http://factoryjoe.com/blog
Cell: 412.225.1051
IM: factoryjoe
This email is: [ ] bloggable [X] ask first [ ] private

Julius

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Dec 14, 2007, 5:16:24 AM12/14/07
to BarCamp
Hi there,

I am Julius and new to to the Group.

I run a blog on event management and recently I interviewed Harrison
Owen on Open Space Technology which he theorized and is now the basis
for barcamps, foocamps and unconfernces.

I don't know if I could post the link because I am not sure which is
your policy with links and I don't want to be accused of spamming.

Let me know if you are interested and I'll address you to the link

Cheers

Julius

On 14 Dic, 00:01, "Chris Messina" <chris.mess...@gmail.com> wrote:
> After more than 2 years after the original BarCamp, and with minimal
> participation of the original founders, I find it quite incredible
> that this description, written as an original document, is still very
> much supporting of the original goals and ideals that BarCamp was
> intended to support.
>
> Nice work!
>

Chris Messina

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Dec 14, 2007, 2:04:19 PM12/14/07
to bar...@googlegroups.com
Hi Julius,

Thanks for asking! Given the subject-matter, I think it's pertinent to
this group and would be interesting. Of course we all have day jobs
and whatnot, and in the course of that work, we certainly come upon
things that have value and are worth sharing so even though you do
event planning, as you described it, it doesn't sound like your intent
is purely self-promotional.

So... with that outta the way... where can we find this interview? ;)

Chris

Tantek Çelik

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Dec 14, 2007, 3:04:04 PM12/14/07
to bar...@googlegroups.com
On 12/14/07 2:16 AM, "Julius" <toju...@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> Hi there,
>
> I am Julius and new to to the Group.

Welcome Julius!

> I run a blog on event management and recently I interviewed Harrison
> Owen on Open Space Technology which he theorized and is now the basis
> for barcamps, foocamps and unconfernces.

This "Open Space Technology ... is ... the basis" assertion is false.

Unfortunately this is a common misconception, the "Open Space" crowd often
takes credit for both Foocamp and BarCamp. It pops up every few months.

"Open Space Technology" (OST) is related to BarCamp and Foocamp (in that
some mechanics are similar), but is not the basis for them. I won't comment
on "unconferences" other than to say it is a very poor term (defining as a
negative), and heavily overloaded/diluted.

BarCamp was reverse-engineered from Foocamp by a former Foocamp attendee and
then constructed *from scratch* by the BarCamp Founders.

Foocamp itself is Tim O'Reilly's invention, a natural growth, iteration, and
evolution of the informal BOF sessions that he held during O'Reilly
conferences. Many conferences (e.g. the W3C plenary week) hold "BOF"
informal sessions, often during lunch, and this practice goes back many many
years.

One major difference with OST for example - use and focus of/on wikis.

Tim added the use of an online wiki for participants to use as part of
Foocamp. BarCamp put the wiki front and center, and made it the main method
of planning, coordination, scheduling etc. The top level official site for
BarCamp is a wiki.

Another analogy: Tim O'Reilly also references Burning Man which has some
similarities.

http://wiki.oreillynet.com/foocamp05/index.cgi

"It's a little like Burning Man in that there are no spectators, only
participants."

But that doesn't mean that Burning Man was the basis for Foocamp either.


> I don't know if I could post the link because I am not sure which is
> your policy with links and I don't want to be accused of spamming.
>
> Let me know if you are interested and I'll address you to the link

I'd like to see the link at least so that possibly false claims about the
origins/basis of Foocamp and BarCamp can be openly debunked.


> On 14 Dic, 00:01, "Chris Messina" <chris.mess...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> After more than 2 years after the original BarCamp, and with minimal
>> participation of the original founders, I find it quite incredible
>> that this description, written as an original document, is still very
>> much supporting of the original goals and ideals that BarCamp was
>> intended to support.
>>
>> Nice work!

I agree with one modification. Drop "un-conference". Replace it with:

user generated conference

per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BarCamp

Thanks,

Tantek

Chris Messina

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Dec 14, 2007, 3:57:09 PM12/14/07
to bar...@googlegroups.com, Sara Winge
On Dec 14, 2007 12:04 PM, Tantek Çelik <tan...@cs.stanford.edu> wrote:

> This "Open Space Technology ... is ... the basis" assertion is false.
>
> Unfortunately this is a common misconception, the "Open Space" crowd often
> takes credit for both Foocamp and BarCamp. It pops up every few months.
>
> "Open Space Technology" (OST) is related to BarCamp and Foocamp (in that
> some mechanics are similar), but is not the basis for them. I won't comment
> on "unconferences" other than to say it is a very poor term (defining as a
> negative), and heavily overloaded/diluted.
>
> BarCamp was reverse-engineered from Foocamp by a former Foocamp attendee and
> then constructed *from scratch* by the BarCamp Founders.

Actually Tantek, your history is somewhat incorrect.

Sara Winge of O'Reilly is actually the one who deserves credit for FOO
Camp (it's unfortunate that Tim, as a male, automatically gets the
credit when Sara did all the work).

Sara was a student of Harrison Owen when he was initially conceiving
of the Open Space Technology concept. She took ideas and practices
from his work in helping to flesh out the design of FOO Camp, indeed
bubbling up the types of interactions that place in BOF sessions,
common to O'Reilly events.

BarCamp resulted from the invite-only and limited-attendance aspect of
FOO Camp, providing an open and inclusive alternative that sought to
provide, openly, the blueprint for the event so that others might be
able to participate or run their own event, benefiting from the
lessons that we learned, just as the founders benefited from the
lessons of FOO Camp, as passed on by a former attendee (Tantek).

It's fair to say that BarCamp is not a direct decedent of Open Space
Technology; indeed, none of the founders had ever heard of it when
BarCamp was originally planned. But to say that FOO Camp was not a
derivative of that work is patently false, considering that Sara was a
student of Harrison Owen!

And, if any of this telling is false, perhaps Sara (CC'd) can correct me.

Chris

> I agree with one modification. Drop "un-conference". Replace it with:
>
> user generated conference

I might even modify that to suggest "participant-created conference"
but I guess "user generated" is in vogue.

Chris

Tantek Çelik

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Dec 14, 2007, 4:22:35 PM12/14/07
to bar...@googlegroups.com, Sara Winge
On 12/14/07 12:57 PM, "Chris Messina" <chris....@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> On Dec 14, 2007 12:04 PM, Tantek Çelik <tan...@cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
>
>> This "Open Space Technology ... is ... the basis" assertion is false.
>>
>> Unfortunately this is a common misconception, the "Open Space" crowd often
>> takes credit for both Foocamp and BarCamp. It pops up every few months.
>>
>> "Open Space Technology" (OST) is related to BarCamp and Foocamp (in that
>> some mechanics are similar), but is not the basis for them. I won't comment
>> on "unconferences" other than to say it is a very poor term (defining as a
>> negative), and heavily overloaded/diluted.
>>
>> BarCamp was reverse-engineered from Foocamp by a former Foocamp attendee and
>> then constructed *from scratch* by the BarCamp Founders.
>
> Actually Tantek, your history is somewhat incorrect.
>
> Sara Winge of O'Reilly is actually the one who deserves credit for FOO
> Camp (it's unfortunate that Tim, as a male, automatically gets the
> credit when Sara did all the work).

Chris, I'm assuming you're correct about Sara's design/invention of FooCamp
and thus I apologize to Sara for not properly giving her credit in my
previous email. I think Tim gets the credit because the event bears his
name and brand, not because of his gender (I'm refusing to accept your
gender-baiting statement).


> Sara was a student of Harrison Owen when he was initially conceiving
> of the Open Space Technology concept. She took ideas and practices
> from his work in helping to flesh out the design of FOO Camp, indeed
> bubbling up the types of interactions that place in BOF sessions,
> common to O'Reilly events.

In that case, I'll leave it to Sara to clarify how much such ideas and
practices were shared etc.

I'll also point out that some of these ideas and practices that were key to
Foocamp and BarCamp predate OST as well with the other reference I made,
Burning Man, and thus reiterate that it would as it would be incorrect to
state that Burning Man was the basis for Foocamp or BarCamp, so it would be
incorrect to state that OST was the basis for Foocamp, unless Sarah says
that's what she did.


> BarCamp resulted from the invite-only and limited-attendance aspect of
> FOO Camp, providing an open and inclusive alternative that sought to
> provide, openly, the blueprint for the event so that others might be
> able to participate or run their own event, benefiting from the
> lessons that we learned, just as the founders benefited from the
> lessons of FOO Camp, as passed on by a former attendee (Tantek).
>

> It's fair to say that BarCamp is not a direct descendent of Open Space


> Technology; indeed, none of the founders had ever heard of it when
> BarCamp was originally planned.

Right. Neither direct nor even indirect descendents, related/similar things
can be in the same tree without having to be ancestors/descendants, e.g.
siblings, cousins etc. Evolution of species as well as human families
demonstrate this.


> But to say that FOO Camp was not a
> derivative of that work is patently false, considering that Sara was a
> student of Harrison Owen!

Being a student of someone does not mean that that someone's projects are
then the basis for all your related work. I think that's an unfair
implication.

Clearly ideas were borrowed. But the assertion that "OST" (the system,
principles etc.) were the basis is still untrue unless Sara says she used
"OST" by name, rather than just ideas she happened to share with Harrison
Owen during the "initial conception" as you stated.

Rather, from what you're saying, both OST and Foocamp are partially based on
discussions Sara and Harrison Owen had many years ago. OST / Foocamp are
siblings, cousins at best. Neither is a parent (a basis) for the other.


> And, if any of this telling is false, perhaps Sara (CC'd) can correct me.
>
> Chris

Thanks Chris for adding these historical clarifications. That helps explain
why this keeps popping up so often. Hopefully yes, if there are any
additional clarifications, Sara can fill us in.

>> I agree with one modification. Drop "un-conference". Replace it with:
>>
>> user generated conference
>
> I might even modify that to suggest "participant-created conference"
> but I guess "user generated" is in vogue.

Yes, either of those works, and certainly much better than the u-word.


> Chris

Thanks,

Tantek

Christopher St John

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Dec 14, 2007, 4:25:20 PM12/14/07
to bar...@googlegroups.com
On Dec 14, 2007 3:04 PM, Tantek Çelik <tan...@cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
>
> > I run a blog on event management and recently I interviewed Harrison
> > Owen on Open Space Technology which he theorized and is now the basis
> > for barcamps, foocamps and unconfernces.
>
> This "Open Space Technology ... is ... the basis" assertion is false.
>
> Unfortunately this is a common misconception, the "Open Space" crowd often
> takes credit for both Foocamp and BarCamp. It pops up every few months.
>

Arguing about who deserves "credit" seems against the spirit of the thing, no?
And a bit misguided, since it's clearly the _participants_ who deserve
the credit
for making the events what they are.

But for the record I can say with certainty that the initial Dallas Bar Camp was
influenced by OST, because I discussed it with Jesse Chan-Norris (one of the
organizers of NYC2) and used the feedback in Dallas. The "Law of Two Feet"
was especially helpful.

Bar Camps are definitely not OST events, but they've certainly influenced at
least some Bar Camps (and I suspect many others indirectly through people
who are aware of the ideas but not the origin).


--
Christopher St. John
http://artofsystems.blogspot.com

Tantek Çelik

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Dec 14, 2007, 4:51:23 PM12/14/07
to bar...@googlegroups.com
On 12/14/07 1:25 PM, "Christopher St John" <ckst...@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> On Dec 14, 2007 3:04 PM, Tantek Çelik <tan...@cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
>>
>>> I run a blog on event management and recently I interviewed Harrison
>>> Owen on Open Space Technology which he theorized and is now the basis
>>> for barcamps, foocamps and unconfernces.
>>
>> This "Open Space Technology ... is ... the basis" assertion is false.
>>
>> Unfortunately this is a common misconception, the "Open Space" crowd often
>> takes credit for both Foocamp and BarCamp. It pops up every few months.
>>
>
> Arguing about who deserves "credit" seems against the spirit of the thing, no?

On the contrary, encouraging discussion is the spirit of BarCamp. OTOH,
discouraging discussion is against the spirit of the thing (even
discouraging disputed discussion i.e. "arguing").

As far as the point of "basis" being contested, it's important in all
endeavors to call out when you think false or inaccurate claims are being
made.

Misconceptions propagate and hide behind perhaps excessive or misguided
politeness.


> And a bit misguided, since it's clearly the _participants_ who deserve
> the credit for making the events what they are.

Agreed.


> But for the record I can say with certainty that the initial Dallas Bar Camp
> was
> influenced by OST, because I discussed it with Jesse Chan-Norris (one of the
> organizers of NYC2) and used the feedback in Dallas. The "Law of Two Feet"
> was especially helpful.

It's not surprising that two similar methodologies are colliding and
producing hybrid or derivative events that use both.


> Bar Camps are definitely not OST events, but they've certainly influenced at
> least some Bar Camps

Thanks for these clarifications Christopher.


> (and I suspect many others indirectly through people
> who are aware of the ideas but not the origin).

See the Burning Man example. As well as the sibling/cousins analogy.

Shared ideas or even components do not necessarily imply origin/derivation.

Thanks,

Tantek

Christopher St John

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Dec 14, 2007, 5:48:44 PM12/14/07
to bar...@googlegroups.com
On Dec 14, 2007 4:51 PM, Tantek Çelik <tan...@cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
>
> > But for the record I can say with certainty that the initial Dallas Bar Camp
> > was
> > influenced by OST, because I discussed it with Jesse Chan-Norris (one of the
> > organizers of NYC2) and used the feedback in Dallas. The "Law of Two Feet"
> > was especially helpful.
>
> It's not surprising that two similar methodologies are colliding and
> producing hybrid or derivative events that use both.
>

Uhhh, wait. A "hybrid or derivative" event? No. It was a Bar Camp. It was
because I (and the rest of the participants) said it was. And we're part
of the definition. As are the participants in all the Bar Camps since then.

Perhaps it would be more correct to say that the original Bar Camp in
Palo Alto was just one influence among many on the amazing variety
of Bar Camps that have sprung up since then.

It's a big tent[1] and a moving target, with a definition that emerges from
the practice of the thing, not by fiat.


-cks


[1] I'm not arguing that there _isn't_ a tent. There clearly has to be for
the term to have any meaning. It's just a very fuzzy tent defined by a
sort of rough consensus among all the participants.

Tantek Çelik

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Dec 14, 2007, 6:01:47 PM12/14/07
to bar...@googlegroups.com
On 12/14/07 2:48 PM, "Christopher St John" <ckst...@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> On Dec 14, 2007 4:51 PM, Tantek Çelik <tan...@cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
>>
>>> But for the record I can say with certainty that the initial Dallas Bar Camp
>>> was
>>> influenced by OST, because I discussed it with Jesse Chan-Norris (one of the
>>> organizers of NYC2) and used the feedback in Dallas. The "Law of Two Feet"
>>> was especially helpful.
>>
>> It's not surprising that two similar methodologies are colliding and
>> producing hybrid or derivative events that use both.
>>
>
> Uhhh, wait. A "hybrid or derivative" event? No. It was a Bar Camp. It was
> because I (and the rest of the participants) said it was. And we're part
> of the definition. As are the participants in all the Bar Camps since then.

Thanks Christopher. Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that it wasn't a BarCamp,
merely a BarCamp that also explicitly included at least one of the OST
principles (Law of Two Feet) as you said, and thus conceptually a hybrid,
iteration, etc.

I've also seen other events occur (not named "BarCamp)" that explicitly said
they were combining aspects of OST and BarCamps.

> Perhaps it would be more correct to say that the original Bar Camp in
> Palo Alto was just one influence among many on the amazing variety
> of Bar Camps that have sprung up since then.
>
> It's a big tent[1] and a moving target, with a definition that emerges from
> the practice of the thing, not by fiat.
>

> [1] I'm not arguing that there _isn't_ a tent. There clearly has to be for
> the term to have any meaning. It's just a very fuzzy tent defined by a
> sort of rough consensus among all the participants.

Agreed. I'll even go so far as to encourage experimentation with variants,
as many "mutations" of the original BarCamp have been quite interesting and
amazing in their own right.

Tantek

KateC

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Dec 14, 2007, 5:01:39 PM12/14/07
to BarCamp
Scott
This is a really nice summary that I will use - thanks very much!
cheers
Kate

Julius

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Dec 15, 2007, 7:01:55 AM12/15/07
to BarCamp
Hi all,

Thank you for your welcome and sorry for the late reply. I am in Italy
and time zone do not facilitate a prompt discussion.

Thanks for clarifying the subject. I feel I have a more thorough
understanding of the genesis.

I must admit that I have been a bit superficial with the ontology of
OST, Barcamps and Foocamps as I've relied solely on Wikipedia as a
source.

Anyway I'll post the link to the interview. I must say that Harrison
Owen has been a very kind and nice individual. He has given complete
and inspiring answers to my questions.

Here's the link for you.

http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/2007/12/open-sourcing-your-event-a-featured-interview-with-harrison-owen.html

cheers

Julius

Chris Messina

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Dec 15, 2007, 3:35:28 PM12/15/07
to bar...@googlegroups.com
Wow, this is a TERRIFIC interview! I love this:

- What is the role (if there is one) of event coordinators in Open
Space Technology (OST) events?

Pretty much the same as in all other events - taking care of space,
logistics, and meals. But it is a lot simpler because the meeting
basically runs itself (self-organization) and the participants take
responsibility for their needs and actions. Even with very large
gatherings (1000-2000+) this is true. In a curious way, the real trick
is NOT to do stuff.

Great advice — and whether there's a direct link from OST to BarCamp
or not (it certainly seems like there's more shared genes than not!) I
think Harrison Owen has some great thoughts and framing for
understanding why BarCamps work.

Thanks for sharing, Julius.

Chris

--

heather...@gmail.com

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Dec 17, 2007, 12:10:30 PM12/17/07
to BarCamp


On Dec 14, 3:01 pm, Tantek Çelik <tan...@cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
I've been experimenting a lot with the event organization concepts I
picked up from Barcamps and many OST principles. What it comes down to
is what the participants what and facilitating what they want to
create. Take from everywhere and utilize what your community would use
best.

Startup-LA was a mash-up with standard conference sessions and an
"unconference"/OpenSpace and it got very interesting feedback.

It really depends on what audiences you're hitting. The barcamp/
unconference style makes some people uncomfortable. And others want to
be in total control of the event as it is happening. The challenge to
organizers, is to know your audience/participants, what they are
trying to accomplish, and make it as easy as possible for them to
succeed. And sometimes, that's sending out the invites, ordering the
food and reminding everyone to have an open mind.

Cheers,

-Heather

abraham

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Jan 18, 2008, 8:18:16 PM1/18/08
to BarCamp
I threw this up on http://barcamp.org/About for quick reference with
suggested modifications.

abraham

On Dec 17 2007, 11:10 am, "puiss...@heathervescent.com"
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