This past Saturday the first ever BarCamp Philly was held at the University of the Arts in Center City. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of BarCamp, it is a worldwide network of individually organized user generated conferences, with participating cities spanning the globe. The conference schedule is never prearranged—BarCamp attendees simply show up, and in a very low tech (but functional) organizational system, scribble their presentation topics on a grid of index cards set in certain time slots to create the day's agenda.
BarCamp sessions are known for their highly creative content and Philly's BarCamp was no exception. With 60 sessions throughout the day to choose from, there was more information available than any attendee could have hoped for. Since we humans can only be in one place at a time, many of us had difficulty deciding just what sessions to sit in on. Among the more interesting sessions I was able to attend was "Building Your Community, Sponsors, and Your Brand as a Full Time Brand Online" given by Walt Ribeiro, an amazingly energetic music man who has created a Pied Piper-like online following. Beth Harte spoke on brand management and proposed the concept of "emotional aftertaste," pointing out that people can't control their gut reaction and you can't force someone to love your brand. Kevin Fitzpatrick held a conversation called "Your Idea & Why It Hasn't Happened Yet," where participants offered insight as to overcoming the apprehension of getting your idea out there in the community, asking and answering questions like: "How refined does an idea have to be before you shop it around?" While every session is interactive, one of the sessions with the most participant driven subject was "The Philly Tech Scene—You tell Philadelphians what's going on in the city, blogs, hangouts, etc." This one could have turned into a free for all, but instead it was an hour long chat between about 40 people listing what there is to do and see in Philadelphia.
This wrap-up of the day does not fully put into words the energy that swirls all day long at BarCamp. Connections were made, ideas were shared, friendships were cemented. See you there next time.
There is an image gallery to this entry which you can view at Phillyist