BarCampNorthEast: Day 2

SundayRecharged by all I could eat from Newcastle’s finest only Mongolian-Chinese restaurant (it was very good) I headed back to the Art Works Galleries for day two of BarCampNorthEast.

I caught the second half of Tom Morris’ session on Citizendium. It’s like Wikipedia but with stricter editing rules and obligatory disclosure of editor’s real names. Articles are reviewed by experts in the appropriate field, written with different audiences in mind and attempt overall to have a higher quality.

While this sounds like a noble cause, there’s something about it which makes me feel uneasy. In my notes for the session I put “seems a bit like Starship Troopers“:

Service guarantees citizenship

Next up, Gareth Rushgrove led a discussion session “do you need to move to London to further your career?”

I found it hard to draw any clear conclusions – a lot of the people there who had lived or worked in London said it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but that it’s also possible to fill your week with tech meet-ups.

Mark Ng has moved out of London to Bournemouth and now won’t be taking any more work in central London.

What are my views?! Clearly I haven’t (yet?!) found the draw to London to be too great to resist. Working in the Higher Ed sector is probably different to commercial work, but the tech community in the North is vibrant and growing. BarCamps in Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle show there is the demand for and ability to organise good events. GeekUp meetings are now happening monthly in Liverpool, Preston, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield. The thing the North doesn’t have is any big digital agencies, but do we or the industry need them?

Lightening talks up next where several people talk for a short time. First part overlapped with the moving to London discussion so I caught a few towards the end. Rather than attempt to write up anything that makes sense, here’s a brain dump:

  • Calais
  • Tagaroo
  • FeedShaver by Mark Ng and symfony powered!
  • BBC tagging service – an internal system that they use. Should it be “radio1” or “radio-one” etc. Provides a vocabulary of tags.

Jure Cuhalev, Head of User experience and Community Manager at Zemanta gave a brief demonstration of their system. It takes your blog posts and suggests relevant links, photos, articles and tags. Quite cool stuff and worth watching. Jure’s also a bit of a professional conference-goer – check out his blog for reviews of BarCampLondon4, Thinking Digital, @media and that’s just in the last couple of weeks!

BarCampNorthEast co-organiser Alistair MacDonald gave an introduction to Geocaching. If you’ve not come across Geocaching before, it’s a treasure hunt game played all over the world using GPS to find caches. There are hundreds of thousands all over the world including a couple left by my Explorers 🙂

Last session for the day was Emma Persky (blog) talking about Hand Gesture Recognition. Using a webcam she demonstrated how hands (or anything else!) can be tracked around the screen. The movement can then be used to control systems such as TVs.

Tara Hunt's Photo CCSo that was all for day two – after a quick tidy up of the venue most people went across town (maybe – I had little concept of where I was!) to the famous Belle and Herbs where I had a heart-attack inducing Breakfast Club:

The Breakfast Club is big – really big – you just won’t believe how vastly, hugely appetite-quenchingly big it is.

Now you tell me!

Overall thoughts? Great event. Different to BarCampLeeds, but not in a bad way. The smaller number of participants led to a more intimate feel.

I did mention that I’d comment on how HE conferences can learn from BarCamps but I’m going to leave that for another time. Hopefully I’ll be posting soon about issues like Twitter, live blogging, use of Laptops at conferences and a whole bunch of other topics, but if I forget, give me a gentle reminder!

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