Wellington Barcamps - do we need an "overseer"?

It's been posed to me a few times from differing sources that maybe the "Wellington Barcamp scene" (for want of a better phrase) should have a sort of "committee" or "go-to gang" that can assist those wanting to run a Barcamp.

I have to say I'm not really for the idea. I believe the community (i.e., you and your mates) should get amongst it and arrange the Barcamp as they see fit in the manner they are comfortable with and no 'overseeing' committee dicating "best practice" or "standard process" [shudder].

Also, the coordination and "getting the word" out was partly addressed by the http://barcamp.org.nz site ... wasn't it?

Having said that, if the "go-to gang" has the focussed energy they could help with:
  • finances - holding and passing on of profits
  • maintain a list of venues - the sticking block for many
  • Buzzy Bee sponsorship - can be lengthy and frustrating. Then again, you don't need it!
  • "how to run a barcamp" - mentoring and passing on traps for young players
Maybe the image is more a nurturing, caring parent than a stuffy government committee.

I dunno though ... HOWEVER, it's not about me ... what do you think?
Leave a comment ...

Oh, and Barcamps may already be getting a feeling here in Wellington of being 'sooooo last year' - be aware if you're thinking of arranging one soon.

Oh x 2, and I think we in Wellington would benefit from a generic Barcamp not along any theme a la Auckland 2 Barcamp (12th July - sign up). AND I see there is one being touted, on ya Brenda

Oh x 3 - why are Barcamps limited to geek stuff ... ??? I want to run one that is totally unconnected with computers - suggestions to go alongside entertainment, movie making, transport and "Wellington"?

Leave your thoughts on any/all of the above ...

Comments

  1. but.... no-one responded with interest in the Vanilla barcamp idea as yet....

    --Brenda

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  2. Who have you told?

    I think you're relying on people using barcamp.org.nz ONLY ... you'll have to blog it, get others to blog it and get the word out to see what people want to do. If, after that, nothing .. then nothing doing

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  3. On the topic of venues. A friend and I are looking at establishing a coworking space in the middle of the CBD. Ultimately, we want to be able to offer the space to Barcamps and usergroups out of office hours. Hopefully this will mean the venue issue gets a whole lot easier .

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  4. That's very cool Pete!

    Let us all know when you're ready to entertain guests - barcamp.org.nz is probably the best lace but leave comments here as well :-)

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  5. Isn't an organising committee / "go to gang" the antithesis of adhoc?

    I appreciate this idea is mooted in the spirit of passing on experience in organising an event, but it may have a significant down-side: implied ownership. I can't help but feel Committees of the non ad hoc variety are about control, however benign that control may be.

    I question the value of barcamp.org.nz, bca.geek.nz and buzzy bee branding. NZ events are now effectivly splintered from barcamp.org and the international barcamp scene. Multiple web sites may create confusion for new comers. Having to promote an event in multiple channels and deal with branding concerns is a barrier to organising and ad-hoc event. I suspect these points are the drivers behind establishing Agile Bar meetups.

    Why not just add your experience to the barcamp.org wiki? That's what it is there for and it already has a lot of information about organising a barcamp right there on the home page.

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  6. @terrencewood, I agree with almost everything you say.

    Not so sure about the "splintering" from the international scene by not using the centralised 'barcamp.org' though, that's just one site that might be of use, not necessarily the only way - up to the organisers to use whatever tools they deem most apprporiate. The same for the Buzzy Bee logo - there's no manual that says one has to use either that or the "barcamp swoosh/flame thingy".

    As for "adding my experience" - sure, will be posting/linking/adding what I've experienced when I get some time. But this wasn't a post about me but raising a question that others have mentioned over the past few months.

    As I said I'm not really a supporter of the idea but it's good to get the ideas out there.

    And finally, yes, the Agile bar meetups are probably a better example of how these sort of things can go than a "committee"

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  7. Hey Mike,

    I too have been thinking that barcamps are a little too splintered.

    I agree with the core thought process behind them that there is no leader and everyone participates, but my experience thus far has been slightly hit or miss because these are very disorganized.

    I also don't think a centralized leadership has to conflict with that core idea.

    One thing we have to remember about New Zealand and especially about Wellington is that because of our size we are forced to go to the same people over and over again. It's why we tend to be generalists. The community of interested parties in Wellington probably only numbers in the 100's. Think about that compared to Palo Alto where the idea of Bar Camps originated. The Infinite Loop (Apple) has a larger base to pull from than our entire city.

    What that means is that we need to be very organized about how we do this. Three barcamps in three weeks is never going to be a good idea because they all have a very similar core audience to chose from.

    We can't do it the same way as everyone else.

    A centralized committee could deal with many of these issue.

    Things a committee could do:

    * Keep a centralized database of venues. (If my experience with Mobile is any indication, we are running very low on venues and need to be strategic about them)
    * Help space them out so we do not burn out our user base or donators (big issue). It wouldn't be up to a committee to plan anything, but they could keep a schedule and suggest that UI barcamp happen in July and the Education one in September for example.
    * Help maintain momentum. Everything loses its "trendiness" after a such a initial push of enthusiasm. It's up to the community to create longevity. Again, being organized about these things can help.
    * Give community members a centralized method of helping. I know everyone is supposed to participate, but lets face it, some participate more than others. That is unavoidable. This would give everyone a chance to do their part and not put too big a burden on a small number of people.
    * eventually give experienced advice and help planners focus on what they are trying to achieve.

    Things a committee should not do:

    * Dictate what subject bar camps cover.
    * Plan the events themselves - they can offer assistance where possible, but the planning should be left to the organizing community members.
    * Deal with money - this issue is something that probably needs a separate discussion thread. Money = taxes

    No one need sit on this committee for a very long time. It would merely be a group of people who are committed over the next 6(?) months to keeping a steady organized momentum for barcamps in Wellington. Think about it, if everyone that was at the Agile bar camp (just an example) was either on the committee or helped plan one barcamp each year, not only would barcamps never be "so last year" but they would likely continue for many years. Without any kind of organization in such a small place the chances of them fizzling out as quickly they started are almost inevitable.

    I think barcamps are a great idea especially in a place like Wellington, but we need to realize that if we want to get true benefit from them, we need to think about them in relation to our situation, not that of other communities.

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  8. Was thinking about this the other week - and would like to see UP.org.nz take a more active role in community events like barcamps. Leveraging the existing executive and sponsors - Unlimited Potential could (with some extra executive committee members or event subcommittees) start to organise more events more often. We already have extensive experience in running events, and as the size of our events grows we likely need to start splitting things into smaller more focussed events, targeted to the niches in our 1000+ membership.

    Just a thought at present, but I see potential benefit for all in the wider Wellington and nz community

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  9. You need:
    (a) a mailing list for would-be and past barcamp organizers to collaborate and mentor.
    (b) a wiki on barcamp.org.nz where all organizers can maintain venue lists, prospective/actual dates, etc.

    I fear and loathe "coordination committees" because they have a tendency to be filled by people who talk rather than do. If you belonged to the mailing list by virtue of having run a camp ... that avoids a whole pile of the "I'm going to be a pain in the arse even though my opinion counts for nothing" complications.

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  10. I agree.

    We have b) http://www.barcamp.org.nz/wiki-home

    And now we have an a) http://www.barcamp.org.nz/organisers
    (curently a closed group but I'll make everyone admin and it can be opened up as we see fit)

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  11. great post as usual!

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  12. nice post. thanks.

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