Over the last weekend I was at the Barcamp Oldenburg. Since one of the first things I learned at this Barcamp was that not even among technically inclined people everyone knows what a Barcamp is let me give a ultra-rapid introduction.
A Barcamp is a so called unconference, everybody who attends is not audience but integral part of the conference. Usually a Barcamp starts by everybody given a very short introduction of themselves. In the case of the Oldenburg Barcamp you had 7 seconds. So just enough to say: “Hi my name is Martin, I work at junge haie and the three topics I’m interested in are Offline First, Angular 2 and Getting Things Done”. Which was basically my introduction. After that everybody who wants to hold a session goes to the front and has about time for an elevator pitch to his session. So 30 seconds explaining what you would like to use a 45 minute slot. You can do anything you like with that time, give a talk, foster a discussion or give a workshop. Than by show of hands the audience votes on who wants to see your session. If there is enough interest you get to put yourself on the schedule somewhere. After that the day starts with sessions. On the following day(s) this game continues.
The Barcamp in Oldenburg, has two special features, the first being that since it is held in a hostel you can stay overnight. The organisers booked some rooms in advance and let you pay together with your ticket.
The second feature is that on the evening before the first day there is a BBQ for the overnight guests and those who want to come a day earlier.
The BBQ fostered some fun discussions between the participants in advance, among other things I had some long discussions about Webdesign/-development, IoT / SmartHomes / Smartgrids, and the Volkswagen scandal.
Last but not least it lead to me meeting someone else who is using GTD to organise his live and agreeing to hold a shared session on it the next day.
During the session planning I was quite happy with the diverse offering we had sessions more in a project and self management direction some for technical topics and e.g. one on bookbinding. It was also nice to see that every session proposed also got enough participants to be held.
The first session I attended was the session on GTD I cohosted. As usually with GTD, a lively discussion went on during us explaining what GTD is and how we modify and employ it in practice.
Personal knowledge management
Directly after GTD, I attended the session on personal knowledge management, which was actually a perfect fit for our GTD session. It outlined not tools, but more the way a personal knowledge management system should be structured, which all participants mostly agreed on. After that we went into some discussion on how this could be helped by tools. We found some solutions on knowledge gathering, filtering, storing and the retrieval, but came to the conclusion that there is at the moment no good tool for connecting the different items of knowledge.
After the lunch break on day on there was a session on IoT (Internet of Things) but it wasn’t a talk but a very lively discussion on advantages, disadvantages and what role artificial intelligence will play in it. I was very found of two points during the discussion. First it was very broad, since there where two computer scientists with a research background in autonomous traffic, a sociologist and a jurist among the participants. And second that the discussion wasn’t overtaken by those four people. With such a topic obviously we didn’t come to a final result so the discussion continued on during the remaining day.
Good Code / Bad Code
The second to last session on that day was on good and bad code. Which was a session not criticising some given code, but on holding yourself accountable for what you and your team produces. Obviously that is not the sole responsibility of the developer, but during the discussion one thing made it very clear where the difference is to other crafts. For example: No doctor would operate on you without washing properly, only so you could save cents on a hospital bill. But in software development this is basically what happens all the time, developers cutting corners to make a deadline or a budget. It was a good session, which was in times a bit painful since you got your own transgressions held in front of you.
The last real session of the first day for me was the one of my colleague explaining Symfony 2. Which wasn’t really news to me, but I only started working on productive projects with it 2 weeks ago. That session went really well. I learned some things I didn’t know before and some of the people in the room started installing and playing around with it before the session had even ended.
Code Secrets / Project Secrets
The evening show of the Barcamp came in form of a session on code and project secrets. During the whole day there were two boxes where you could put in the worst thing you ever did during the production of code or in project management. In the evening these boxes where emptied anonymously and the audience decided if your transgressions should be meet with forgiveness or damnation.
There actually where some juicy bits in there but obviously I won’t say anything.
How to fuck up a project
On the second day the first session I attended was how to fuck up a project, where the best ways to do that where presented. It was quite fun and very interactive, since everybody in the audience was able to give some more ideas on how to really sabotage a project.
The last session for me was the one by our apprentice about BEM (Block Element Modifier). A system to better organise your CSS. I actually had not heard about this before. But to me it sounded like a very good idea to use it. So good actually that I moved to implementing it first thing Monday morning on my current work project.
For me this Barcamp was fun and I liked the broad offering of sessions even though my selection went a bit more into the technical sessions.
What was also nice was that many discussions continued well beyond the end of the sessions and everyone seemed quite engaged.
For my own sessions, I was quite happy to see that it helped some people. And I hope that I will see more Offline First (web) applications in the future. I’m counting on you.
In the end what remains to say is that I’m looking forward to Barcamp Oldenburg 2017 and I hope I’ll see you there.