On October 18-19, Barcamp Berlin 3 took place. It was organized in the impressive Berlin Representative Office of Deutsche Telekom. Over 800 people attended, a true bee hive of creative tech people from all walks of Internet life.
BarCamps are a special kind of conference, sometimes even called an “unconference”:
BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants — often focusing on early-stage web applications, and related open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats.
BarCamps live and breathe Web 2.0, not only in what they are about, but also by adopting its user-driven style in how they are organized. There is much attention on participatory process, or, rather, on providing an overall infrastructural framework, while making participants responsible for what topics are going to be discussed and in what way.
Traditionally, BarCamps are rather small and informal events. This one was huge, and very well organized, infrastructure-wise. It was also amazing how they managed to offer all of the considerable facilities for free. The contrast between the large scale/professional setting, with the creative/anarchistic BarCamp culture was interesting. Although some were not so amused by this, I think it’s testimony to the multi-faceted, evolving nature of the BarCamp concept, that it can live in so many different skins. I agree with the claim that “‘You are BarCamp!’ and everybody has to take part in making each edition a success”. My compliments to the organizers for getting this most stimulating, very well organized event off the ground!
An open question is still to what extent, apart from organizing the infrastructure, these unconferences need organization of content. Personally, I think many sessions could benefit from some form of preparation, although there should be sufficient space for “emergent organization” to keep the inspiration and flow of the moment.