Saturday, September 10, 2011

BarCamp Nashville 2011: Mountain Climbing and Porch Sitting

So, this is your first BarCamp? Excellent. Let me show you around.

BarCamp Nashville's version of the franchise is way bigger and more organized than the just-show-up-and-talk BarCamps of the pure original vision, but not yet a trade show with shiny booths and shinier suits. It's something inbetween.

And that seems to be the right thing, right place, right time.

The scheduled sessions go all day, and there are several scheduled in each time slot. If you want to speak, post a pitch by Sept. 18. (Do it! Do it!)

Please note: There's always drama around getting a speaking slot. The organizers are loath to simply choose (that's not how BarCamp works, say the purists), so there is annual tinkering with the process. This year, a lottery system is in place, emphasizing randomness. My .02 is that the process should combine crowdsourced voting for pitches (60 percent) and committee selection (40 percent). /soapbox.

There's also space for side discussions in the Impromptu Rooms that are there for the taking. If you don't get a slot, you can hold a session of your own on a topic of your choice; just show up. (That's the true spirit of BarCamp, say the purists).

How do you choose how to spend your time when you're there? Here's my advice:

  • Spend one-third of your time at sessions on topics you are familiar with. 
    You will experience both:
    (a) reassurance that you know more than the speaker, and
    (b) awe at the speaker's deeper knowledge

  • Spend one-third of your time at sessions completely over your head and out of your lane. You will have the stretching sensation of being a traveler unschooled in the local language. This will be good for you.

  • Split the remaining time between sessions put on by your friends, and shameless networking. Bring cards, chocolates, and mints.

  • Buy the meal plan, eat a nice lunch; maybe take a nap during the first afternoon session.

  • Also, the bar opens early (11ish?), and the lines get longer as it gets later.

By the time the afterparty starts, you will have climbed mountains, done some porch sitting, and be ready for the night out.

Follow: @Barcampnash
Fan: Facebook

Next stop on the BarCamp Nashville blog tour: Cal Evans.

P.S. The crew is still accepting volunteers, especially for day-of-event help. Sign up, and you will get a t-shirt and street cred. The event also accepts sponsors.

Do you want to go to there?

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