Skip to main content

What is a Barcamp?

A cracking Barcamp description from Rob O'Brien (with a little editing from yours truly):
BarCamp is an ad-hoc Unconference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. Anyone with something to contribute or with the desire to learn is welcome and invited to join.

After conferences may people say that the best aspects of the event were the people they met and the impromptu hallway conversations they had. An unconference amplifies these connections and conversations.

Barcamps are unconferences organised by a community of interested individuals and participated by those same individuals. Anyone can organise a Barcamp around any area that interests them. There is no corporate agenda, no vested interests, no absolute authority and often no cost to attend. Instead Barcamps are a way for like minded people to come together, collaborate, innovate and make things happen.

Instead of providing a predetermined schedule the participants construct the schedule; typically on the day. The event starts with an introduction by the organisers articulating the purpose of the event, the guidelines for conduct during the day and any parameters such as session lengths.

The most important rule (and often the only one) for a Barcamp is:


If you are not learning or contributing it is your responsibility to respectfully find some place where you are. This is known as the Law-of-Two-Feet. Overall Barcamps are governed by these basic principles.

  1. Whoever comes are the right people.
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  3. Whenever it starts is the right time.
  4. Whenever it is over it is over.

In New Zealand a couple of successful Barcamps have been run to date: Barcamp NZ eGovernment, Barcamp Agile, Auckland Barcamp 07 and the first in Christchurch with BarcampChCh07.
There always others in the pipeline – see the Barcamp Wiki for more information on upcoming New Zealand based Barcamps (or do a Google search)

If you or your organisation care about innovation in your industry then the best thing you can do is attend, help organise or support these events and make things happen.

Barcamp - “It’s not a place for sheep!”