Last weekend I attended BarCamp Leeds at Old Broadcasting House. I’m not going to talk about the sessions – I hope to cover that on my personal blog sometime this week, but I was trying out a new Twittering technique.
I’ve said before that one of the best uses of microblogging services like Twitter is at conferences and I’ve got quite a few on this year so I’ve been thinking about how best to use the service during live events. I have quite a varied set of followers – everything from geeks to journalists (who I’ve come to realise are actually just another set of geeks!) – so a large proportion of what I tweet about won’t be of interest to everybody.
The solution I tried out last weekend, and plan to continue is to split my Twitter accounts. Many people separate their professional and personal lives, but I’ve not been keen on doing that. My work influences who I am and vice versa. I came across an alternative solution employed by Martin Belam where he maintains two accounts – @currybet for regular use and @currybet_live for use during events. It seems to have worked well – one place to see everything about an event without annoying followers who aren’t interested.
So for BarCamp Leeds I created @MikeNolanLive and used it to post messages, photos and video from the event. I mentioned it a couple of times throughout the day from my main account to remind people where I was and at the end of the day I signed off and pointed people back to @MikeNolan:
It seemed to go pretty well so I plan to repeat the exercise at tomorrow’s SOLSTICE Conference and other conferences during the summer.
This weekend I took a trip up the M62 to Leeds. No, not for the SSWG shopping trip, I went for a day of technology! That’s right, I experienced my first BarCamp!
BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants.
BarCamp is a network of unconferences organised all over the world. They’ve been going for about two years and are growing in popularity. Yesterday was BarCampLeeds, held at Old Broadcasting House, the former BBC studios now owned by Leeds Met University.
Since BarCamps are presented by and for the participants, and this being my first BarCamp, I “had to” do a session. After racking my brains all week I ended up finishing a presentation at 1:30am on Saturday morning. The subject was basically an introduction to symfony and why you should use it, combined with some case studies of the work we’ve done here at Edge Hill (with some slides borrowed from Alison’s IWMW talk!)
With nine timeslots and up to four rooms in use at any one time there was a wide variety of subjects ranging from entrepreneurs imparting their experiences to Live Coding demonstrations of Ruby. I tried to mix some business talks with stuff about web technologies and found it all pretty enjoyable.
The highlight for me was Tom Smith talking about “Stuff I Know”. The slides are online but they’re unlikely to make much sense. The line that sums it up was “pair programming is a bit like bran… you know you should eat it but you don’t really know why”. Apparently if you don’t have a real person to pair with, talking to the teddy bear is a good substitute.
I’m glad I went and I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in technology (not necessarily a web focus). Thanks to the enormous generosity of the sponsors the whole weekend was pretty cheap for me (although the Etap Hotel proved that you really do get what you pay for… not impressed) so the journey was well worth it.