BarCampMelbourne 2009 was, in a nutshell, awesome!
The event generated ideas, promoted discussion and got people thinking about what’s possible with technology, why it’s possible and how to make things happen.
BarCampMelbourne was held at UrbanCamp, a facility designed primarily for school groups located in Parkville, next to the State Hockey and Netball Centre. UrbanCamp was chosen for the presentation spaces it offered, along with its close proximity to public transport, and the fact that it offered hostel-style accommodation.
Around 50-60 people participated in BarCampMelbourne – from all facets of the technology industry. There was strong representation from the open source community, and several attendees were heavily into Arduino, many of whom attend the Community Connected Hackerspace group.
The presentations ranged from entertaining and comedic, to downright scary. My personal favourites included;
Paul Fenwick’s talk on Facebook privacy: Paul demonstrated, using the Perl Facebook API, how you could ‘dark stalk’ someone even if their privacy settings were set very strictly – by following the activity of their friends to find gaps in information. He used a number of Facebook Query Language examples to illustrate the incredible amount of information held on individuals within Facebook. Incredibly informative and incredibly scary – and if you haven’t tightened up your Facebook privacy settings – do it now!
Tara’s talk on what technology means to her: One of the most inspiring talks was from Tara – at just thirteen she was by far the youngest presenter at BarCamp. Her presentation was on what technology means to her – how it is now an embedded, expected part of everything she does – her hobbies, education and relationships. While listening to Tara, I imagined her in 15 years, running her own BarCamp (or whatever BarCamp evolves into in the future), and wondered whether she would have a generally positive or negative view of technology; whether she would simply accept the value that it adds to everyday life or wonder about the implications of humankind becoming so dependent upon it.
Donna’s talk on Zing collaboration: Donna Benjamin, executive director of Creative Contingencies, showcased the Zing collaboration software, and facilitated a discussion on how technology could be harnessed to aid journalistic reporting of natural disasters such as bushfires. This allowed us to elaborate on a number of the themes raised in Wolf Cocklin’s presentation. Everyone contributed to Zing through the use of wirelessly connected keyboards, so the collaboration occurred in real-time.
Wolf’s talk on Social Media for Disasters: Wolf Cocklin, from the ABC, shared with us his experience in using social media such as Twitter with the ABC to provide coverage of natural disasters, such as the Black Saturday bushfires. He illustrated the ethical dilemma of broadcasters such as the ABC receiving information from listeners, and being torn between re-broadcasting the info via tweets, thus helping people to make evacuation decisions, and finding a method to verify the information.
Josh Stewart’s discussion on home automation: Josh Stewart led a discussion on home automation – a topic close to my heart at the moment because I’m doing a lot of work with the Audio-Visual and Videoconferencing team at work, and part of their responsibility includes automation through things such as room control panels. Josh demonstrated some of the available equipment for home automation, such as Arduino. The key hold up to this taking off is the lack of available standards, and the lack of compliance to existing standards from manufacturers. I would love to be able to control my air conditioning remotely, or send an SMS signal to the garden to water the plants during a hot summer day. My assessment at this stage is that home automation is in its infancy; however there exists a strong set of requirements that will only grow stronger as more electronic devices are added to homes – this is definitely a growth area.
BarCampMelbourne would not have been made possible without these kind sponsors. Their generous assistance meant that BarCampMelbourne was free for all attendees.
- Linux Australia: http://www.linux.org.au
- SitePoint: http://www.sitepoint.com.au
- Open Start: [URL is top secret! Stay tuned!]
- OSDC: http://www.osdc.com.au
- Open Query: http://www.openquery.com
- Perl Training Australia: http://perltraining.com.au
- Creative Contingencies: http://www.cc.com.au
- Strategic Data: http://www.strategicdata.com.au
- MD Web Hosting: http://www.mdwebhosting.com.au (Awesome hosting deal at http://www.mdwebhosting.com.au/web-hosting-special.html)
- James Turnbull: http://james-turnbull.net/books.htm
- LUV: http://www.luv.asn.au
- Sputnik Agency: http://sputnikagency.com
My own talks were on;
- Why ITIL Problem Management is your friend (a reworked version of the StixCamp talk)
- Introduction to CiviCRM for donor and volunteer management
We also managed to capture a number of photos of both BarCampMelbourne and the UrbanCamp venue – they’re mostly up on Flickr;
So, when will the next BarCamp be? It’s likely to be a StixCamp style event, but the location has not yet been decided.