Top 5 Reasons Why I Liked Barcamp Miami 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
By Suki

The 4th Annual Barcamp Miami was held Sunday, February 20, in the very trendy Miami Design District.  Living in the rather quaint and subdued town of Deerfield Beach, seeing the bright colors and glass of the 4141 building made me feel surprisingly happy and made up for the fact that I had to wake up at 7 am on a Sunday for the long trek down to this ‘unconference.’

Barcamp Miami 2010

At Barcamp Miami 2010. Photo: Luis Casillas

Initially I was a little disappointed with the number of people I saw as we walked through the doors – last year I estimated close to 600 while yesterday’s event seemed a little under 100. As the day progressed and more people turned up (geeks don’t do early!) I’d estimate that there were closer to 200-300 people – keep in mind that I’m not very good at estimating unless I make a conscious effort so I could be a little off! That being said, in the end, the smaller turn out allowed far richer interactions and more meaningful connections, in my opinion. My metrics? Far more business cards exchanged and lots more twitter followers than last year! ;)

Here are the top 5 things I liked:

1. Pretty business cards – Working in the education industry I must come across some of the most archaic and stodgily designed business cards on the face of this earth. Not so, in the tech industry.  I’d like to particularly point out the business card of Jonathan LeBlanc – Technology Evangelist from Yahoo – it has his contact info in BRAILLE (he is also part of the accessibility lab)! How cool is that?

2. The people and the swag - In the space of about 8 hours I met someone working on making the world better though a voting application on facebook, a mom with an eco-themed gossip blog, an artist who paints portraits of tattooed women and a guy with a great smile who drove  all the way from Jacksonville! While I missed the T-shirts this year, Bob Baldwin from Facebook was kind enough to leave some Facebook stickers on a table after his talk and I was able to score four of them thanks to @panyvinito! This weekend I’m going to make a little care package and mail them to my young cousins in Sri Lanka – that should raise my cred with them a few notches!

3. No dens and no dragons – In the UK there’s a show called Dragon’s Den where hopeful entrepreneurs get to make a pitch and then get ‘eaten’ by a board of Simon Cowell clones. Not so at barcamp. I got to listen to my best friend and life partner do a 5-minute pitch of a new forum software he’s been laboring over in fits and starts for the past 2 years. We are both far happier in front of our laptops than we are in front of crowds, so this was an achievement. The crowd was nice and encouraging – a good “first-ever-pitch-crowd!” and I was happy he did it.

4. Barcamp is like a box of chocolates – The virtue and vice of barcamp is that nothing is ever 100% certain. So while I was bummed that Crisis Camp did not take place, I was very happy that I ended up (at the insistence of Alex De Carvalho, one of the principal organizers, and Patrick Barnes) helping to be a catalyst for the Social Media for Social Good session. Wasn’t quite sure if geeks would really want to ‘do good’ but Patrick said that if it was just Alex and him and myself that came, it would still be OK. In the end I’d say we had ten times that number (note my earlier reference to estimation skills!) and in a cramped corner of the second floor, stories about Haiti, Camilla’s House and Sri Lanka were shared.

But okay, all that aside, here’s the real reason I liked Barcamp.

5. Big neon sticky notes on poster paper - having grown up in Sri Lanka without sticky notes (let alone big neon ones) I consider these a luxury even now. Sad, I know. But there’s something about seeing that unconference schedule and all that black marker on neon paper to me it represents the quintessential idea of a perfectly-level playing field where any person with a crazy idea is given the opportunity to share their thoughts and dreams. Not everyone gets to present at FOWA or SXSW – but for a brief moment in time at Barcamp your peers will lend you their ears and minds… and sometimes that makes all the difference.

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3 Responses to “Top 5 Reasons Why I Liked Barcamp Miami 2010”

  1. Suki: Totally share your feelings about Miami BarCamp and sticky notes!

    I hope to hear your best friend and life partner do a 5-minute pitch of his new forum software at our Silicon Valley based, Entrepreneur Journey strategy round-table, we have these round-tables weekly, each Thursday, 11am It is online, he will not be facing audience in person, so it might be easier for him.

    I’d be happy to help him to prepare his pitch, or he can follow these guidelines to prepare himself:

    Hope to see you soon!

    Irina Patterson
    1M/1M Project

  2. Hey Suki! Great post… keep ‘em coming! & don’t forget to “hang out with the cool kids”

  3. Suki

    @Irina – thanks for the info! It looks very interesting. I’ve passed the message on to him.

    @Lina – why do you think I hung out with you at Wordcamp! BTW – my wordcamp is coming…stay tuned!


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