Not a BAR nor a CAMP!

This past weekend was dominated by all things beer with the Tusker Safari Sevens and Tusker Project Fame finals happening on the same weekend, I wonder how the Tusker big brass were able to divide themselves between the two events happening on opposite sides of town. Despite the obvious temptation especially on the former I ended up in a different type of Bar which was not a Bar. With a nudge from a techie guru whom I know and  also happens to work with skunks I found myself spending the better part of Saturday at Barcamp. Despite my initial misgivings about what I presumed would be a very techie affair with acronyms and abbreviations being thrown left right and centre I ended up learning alot and having a good time to boot.

Alot of posts (More than 10 at last count) have been writen up about the content of Barcamp Nairobi including pictures where I have spotted my smug mugshot in the crowd! so I won’t attempt to try and go into the content of the presentations cos they have been covered my more worthy campers. Instead I will just state what I liked about it and what little more I would like to see added.

What I liked.

  • Democracy, people got to choose what topics would be included and because the sessions were going on concurently in 3 rooms you had a choice of which particular session to attend this was a true reflection of ‘people driven process
  • Participation, was not only expected and encouraged it was demanded, it was not just about a speaker talking for half an hour while we were watching the clock in fact most of the times I got a feeling that the sessions were ending too fast.
  • Networking, I was able to make the aquintance of several bloggers and persons in the blog and IT community who despite being ‘famous’ were all approachable and willing to engage all and sundry.
  • Ubuntu, not the software (although I noted that many of the poeple attending are big fans of FOSS) but the spirit of humanity where people were genuinely willing to be helpful, this puts a human face rather than the obnoxious geek image that people have of the techies.
  • Variety, It was not just about computer systems and develpment of software there was diversity in topics from setting up Ubuntu servers, rural lighting to Iphones and Blogging tips so I didn’t feel left out although quite a number of the topics were above me I could still find enoug sessions to occupy me all day.
  • Unconference, this terminology intrigued me and I wanted to know what it was all about but as the day wore on it impressed me, the informal nature of going about things, the lack of moderators, the diversity, the lighning sessions (I didn’t think it would ever be possible to keep a public speaker in kenya to a presentation of only 5 minutes!) and the lack of the usual evaluation forms at the end of the seminar. there was not even a guest of honour although the PS for information turned up he particpated and contributed like any other camper.
  • Mixed Grill,- not the food (there was none but I don’t think anybody missed it) All sorts of people turned up from IT specialists, Bloggers, Civil Society, Enterpreneurs, Students and even government policy makers and all mixing and participating as equals and wanting to share something.
  • HotSpot, thanks to Wananchi for some of us it was our first time to experience really fast, Unrestricted internet (really had to restrain myself from abusing the connection to do hefty downloads) connections and as the presentations went on we were able to google all the interesting facts that came up and I have a nice big BarcampNariobi bookmark folder full of juicy links to nibble over slowly with time.

Oportunities for Improvement

  • Space, I guess even the organizers did not bargain for such a big attendance especially on a cold July Saturday but the 3 rooms for most of the sessions were full to capacity, I can bet that next time due to the favourable reviews I have read so far they can expect even more people
  • Timing, ok this is personal! I really really really missed the rugby so next time tafadhali consult the KRFU calendar.
  • Publicity, the whole thing needs to be demystified so that we can have more people coming in especially as presenters cos alot of times people get intimidated by technology and think that it is only for experts.
  • Beer, si it’s a Bar ama? 🙂

so to the organizers of Barcamp this is my unofficial conference evaluation form in case you forgot!

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17 Responses

  1. Atii it was a cold July Saturday? kwani someone tore a page out of your calender on the wall? Dude, we are STILL in June- EXACTLY 6 MONTHS AWAY FROM CHRISTMAS.

  2. I know I noticed the July and I was like HUH? kwani Kirima lives where?
    This bar camp can someone explain to me exactly what it is couz I have seen like 20 posts on it…

    In short its place where cool techies, serious nerds, cool geeks, nutty bloggers etc meet and talk about anything under the keyboard etc but there is no beer, are you still interested?

  3. LOL good observation it seems in my vocabulary cold weather = july so I guess I’m a bit correct

  4. Sounds like something I shud do when I get back.

    Don’t miss it when you come back

  5. brilliant. nice to meet you there.

    Nice to meet you oh intelligent 1

  6. thanks dude!
    about the beer, its free as in freedom not free as in beer!
    sevens was the bomb will definitely be a regular now.

    Free beer? When? Where? 🙂

  7. it was nice meeting you..and other bloggers..i loved the informality of it all and can’t wait for next year…

    They shouldn’t wait for another year!

    @gitts
    perhaps i saw u, perhaps i didn’t but it was all a good experience..

  8. and yes, it has been really cold for june…july is supposed to be the cold month, but then with global warming and all that..

    Brrrrrrr!!!!!!

  9. Barcamp was indeed great. Good thing I convinced myself to get out of bed and into Westlands for it. Ended up staying till late! I’ll be sure to attend the next one.

    Nice you also brought Raul with you saw his work on flickr good stuff

  10. that was the biggest i’ve seen and the unconference format is great. imagine a seminar like that, where if someone drones on forever (just cause he’s the keynote – whatever that means) , people walk out .

    LOL indeed the format should be replicated more and more

  11. Bloggers tafadhali publicize the next one way mapema. I’m already looking forward to it.

    I almost didn’t go cos I thought it would be boring technical stuff so was pleasantly surprised

  12. Seems like a nice idea this Bar Camp. I had read lots about it before but it was not demystified. So thanks for this. Next time I’ll make a point of attending.

    Kirima there’re some querries for you on the other side.

  13. Again, brilliant write-up. This event sound informative to say the least…maendeleo naona!

  14. next post line?

  15. Kirima – I loved your post of barcampnairobi – I am one of the organizers for barcampafrica and was wondering if you would like to do a guest post similar to this one preparing some of our first timers for what to expect at a barcamp — would hate to disappoint those jammas who come for the kinywaji only .. hehe

  16. […] summarize’s his first BarCamp expericence from Barcamp Nairobi ‘08 in a post called “Not a Bar, Nor a Camp“. BarCamp Nairobi was held on June 21st, 2008 at the beautiful Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi, […]

  17. feminine armband tattoo,

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