Barcamp Graz 2010 – A weekend in review

You might have noticed the sparse updates on this blog in the last few weeks. I have been involved in many time-consuming activities, one of them being a member of the organisation committee for Barcamp Graz 2010 as part of the Wissensmanagement Forum team. The barcamp took place last weekend (May 7-9) and consisted of four individual camps, dedicated to design, politics, iphone and ipad, and knowledge management.

I am proud to say that the event was a huge success: an estimated 250 participants over the course of three days contributed to the close to 50 sessions throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not to mention the fantastic location, and a line of catering that outmatched most conferences I have been at so far. I would like to thank all participants, co-organisers and sponsors for their contributions!

Barcamps are participant-driven “un-conferences” in a sense that there are no papers submitted beforehand and that there is no predefined schedule. The timetable is determined only at the event; planned topics can be posted earlier in a wiki though. That does not mean that you come unprepared: since there is no distinction between presenters and listeners, everyone is required to contribute and share his or her knowledge.

Barcamps are traditionally mostly visited by practitioners. Since the goal of the Wissensmanagement Forum is to foster exchange between science and practice, we set a bit of a different focus for the Wissenscamp (“knowledge camp”), which was one of the four camps comprising Barcamp Graz. We invited researchers from the field of knowledge management as well as practitioners, and dedicated a whole afternoon on Friday to this subject only. And I must say the experience was overly positive. There were a lot of dedicated sessions that combined interests of researchers and practitioners. The around 70 participants came from disciplines as diverse as business administration, pedagogic, and software engineering; their organisations ranged from universities, over start-ups to large companies. This sparked many inspirational discussions on topics such as “Enterprise 2.0” and “Knowledge management in corporate communications”.

Barcamps are also a showcase for the use of Web 2.0 tools and technologies: the whole event is covered to great lengths on Twitter (#bcg10 was the top trending topic for Austria throughout the whole Saturday on Twicker), a wiki is being used for organizational purposes, and blog posts are written about single sessions or the whole event. In that sense, Barcamp Graz was also an experiment in the field of Science 2.0.

There are still some things that we can improve for next year, especially spreading the barcamp idea even further to lure more participants to the event. We will also try to attract more session proposals beforehand to give participants a better feeling what the camp will be about. We are also looking into ways to document the sessions better. Additionally, we will be guiding the newbies a little bit more with an introductory session to give them a head start into the barcamp experience. I can’t wait for Barcamp Graz 2011!

Below you can find the presentations of the two sessions I held.

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