Crowd at BarCampBlock by daveandsima If I was to capture magic and make it an event, it would have been BarCampBlock for me. Sure, I may seem biased, being one of the organizers (alongside Liz Henry, Chris Messina, Ross Mayfield and Tantek Çelik - with Tara "2.0" Anderson as our star volunteer), but in truth, I usually hate the events I am involved in organizing. The combination of high expectations, energy output and amplified negative feedback (I have a habit of hearing the bad stuff more than the good stuff) leaves me feeling like a big loser almost everytime.

Except for BarCampBlock.

So, what was different about it? Well, for me, a big difference was that I let go of responsibility and enjoyed the event. I think I finally did a better job of balancing responsibility and delegation. But it wasn't just an internal shift...people at BCB were really, really, really awesome. Everyone stepped forward and helped and made the event theirs. I didn't encounter a single person who walked by someone in need. In fact, although nearly 600 people were participating on Saturday, it never felt like more than a handful. At the beginning of the opening ceremonies, I asked who was at a BarCamp for the first time and the majority of people put their hands up. Yet, it seemed that everyone had done this many times before. It was totally great.

Number two, we provided a great deal more 'guidance' up front. Not rules. Not structure. Guidance. We created a 'Welcome to BarCamp' handout that provided 'Stuff to Know about BarCamp:'

  1. BarCamp is ABOUT YOU. This isn’t one of those conferences where you sit back and wait for something to MAKE stuff happen! Pitch in! Lead a session!

  2. BarCamp is NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about everyone here. Be ready to share all of the cool stuff you are working on, but also be prepared to listen to what others are doing. BarCamp is about relationships, not selling.
  3. Take a chance and present! What do you have to lose? All of us here feel the exact same apprehensions. This may be your lucky break!
  4. You will learn more here than you have ever learnt anywhere else...if you make yourself available to it. Go to as many sessions and meet as many people as possible. Even better, go to sessions you know nothing about and by people you don’t know.
  5. The beauty of an Open Grid is that we also get the chance to practice our negotiation skills. If someone has a similar talk or has put themselves in a time-slot you covet, talk to them about switching or merging. It’s all about collaboration.
  6. Everyone participates. Ways to participate: volunteer to help, give a session, record your notes on the wiki, clean up, etc. BarCamp needs both giving and receiving to function.
  7. You, too, can throw a BarCamp. After it’s all over, just go to the wiki, copy some ideas and roll your own! [made possible by the fact that thousands of BarCampers before you have recorded everything on the wiki...which is why it is important to document everything today]

Several people approached me throughout the event to tell me how they experienced entire paradigm shifts by being at BCB. I think our clarity and positive nudges in the direction of openness and creating the culture of inclusion and generosity made a huge difference to how people approached the weekend.

Number three. Liz mentioned the Kid's Room in her post, which I believe is one of the most important parts of BarCampBlock. It's where I'm proud we went and where we also fell short (as Liz points out). I'd like to see more of the attention to diversity and needs of families and moms in all BarCamps as well as with our coworking spaces. Leisa Reichelt just sent a timely message to the Coworking list about this very subject. We talk about kids as this free, creative energy source, yet we isolate them from our creative 'adult' spaces. I'd love to see them incorporated more. I brought Tad down to help at the registration (he did an awesome job), but I would have loved to see more teens there encouraging him to do a session on his latest passion: scripting for WoW.

Many of the things I would have done differently are in Liz's post. Her summary is totally kickass. And thanks to Kirrily Robert and Kent Bye for doing such awesome thought summaries of the weekend. Summaries that lead to many experiences that really capture the feeling of the event. share with you some of the 'stats' of BarCampBlock (only important after you read the stories, of course):

  • 564 of you checked in on Saturday
  • 260 of you came for a second day (Sunday)
  • 386 of you blogged about it:
  • 1,885 of your photos tagged barcampblock showed up on Flickr
  • 350 of you joined the BCB network and made 1,188 connections
  • 92 of you held sessions
  • 105 of you sponsored it so that everyone could enjoy it for free

I want to also shout out to the many volunteers and point out individuals such as Yohannes Wijaya (who sat at the registration table all day Saturday, cleaned garbage, moved tables and was absolutely dedicated and awesome)! And the attendees (listed at Eventbrite)! Without all of you, we would have been sitting at SocialText with hundreds of pizzas, playing foosball alone.

Oh...and as a last minute bragging point...check us out in Wired Magazine! Lane Hartwell took amazing shots (as usual) for that spread.

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