Entrepreneurs, Bloggers, and Geeks Meet At Barcamp Miami
If you think Barcamp is a boring meeting among geeks, think again. To be sure, the original concept behind Barcamp involved some very high-ranking geeks. Tim O’Reilly, famed publisher and supporter of open code sharing, held exclusive Foocamps (Friends of O’Reilly) for an elite roster of attendees and as a result, a those who felt shunned created the first Barcamp “unconference” in just six days, held in California, August 2005.
Since then, Barcamp has reproduced like binary bunnies all across the globe, culminating last year in its first anniversary Barcamp Earth in multiple locations worldwide.
This year, South Florida will finally get its first taste of Barcamp on February 21, 2007.
Geeks are people too
Barcamp is an international phenomenon that will hopefully develop a distinctive local flavor in Miami. Although this inaugural meeting will bring together some new Miami-based internet start-ups such as Scrapblog, where Alex de Carvalho has been recently hired to work as Community Guy, he hopes the gatherings will involve a diverse group of people who use technology. “You don’t have to present anything but I do encourage people to just come and listen or share ideas.”
Barcamp could be associated with brainy geeks hunched over their keyboards in dark rooms typing code all day, or top-level executives hawking their wares and visionary ideas, but Alex tells me that association reveals a degree of misconception. Alex has an impressive career under his belt that includes internet and technology marketing, strategy and business development for major American and European companies and yet he doesn’t fully embrace the geek label.
“I don’t mind being called that. But non-geeks are on the internet too. I’m not a developer, actually. I’m just someone who likes to write and take pictures. I produce and consume information. My motivation is to connect with people. Barcamp is open to anyone who is interested in this process and not just geeks.”
Connecting with people: could it not be argued that this is the main motivation behind all personal blogs? Who are we speaking to when we write about our lives? That humble blog is as profound as the invention of the printing press. By clicking this button, I not only give voice to myself, but also essentially command the technology that enables me to communicate with others from around the world.
At one point in our conversation, Alex turned the tables and asked me how I had come to blogging and if it had changed my life. The question forced me to look at something I was quite familiar with and yet had taken for granted: the publish button had indeed changed my life even though I never lay awake at night thinking: OMG, I am an end-user invested in technology!
I started my blog because it was free and provided, from a writer’s perspective, an easy tool to exercise the craft; I would’ve never imagined that in a matter of months I would’ve been swept by the tide of social media, making new friends and clients in the process.
People are geeks too
While a number of Miami bloggers have made an effort to meet socially, even once under the sponsorship of Stormhoek wine’s viral marketing campaign, there has never been a meeting of both producer and consumer in the same room, which begs the question: aren’t consumers also producers of media?
As Alex explained, the line seems to be blurred in other cities. He recently resided in Paris and experienced a thriving social scene where it appears there was life outside the blog. “In Paris, all kinds of different people involved in blogging would get together. There was something to do every single night of the week. I’ve seen this happen in the West coast too.”
The idea of bringing together disparate clusters of Miami’s blogging community offline is intriguing, considering that I had never heard of Barcamp and that Alex had never heard about other informal gatherings organized by the local blogosphere.
Alex’s enthusiasm and love for the social media is quite understandable. I’d like to keep an open mind and dip my toes in geek waters, if only for a few hours. If a geek is telling me it’s ok to put my blog aside and share ideas face to face, I have to wonder: who is the real geek?
Based on my experience as a Miami blogger, I think that for many of us who don’t work in the technology trade, gatherings such as Barcamp may miss the mark. Yet it’s incredibly ironic that someone like Alex, who works in the trade, should suggest creating a life offline that is as natural as life on it. Think about that: must our online personalities and publications be divorced from real life? What is more real, your blog or your life?
Yes, there’s a bit of geek in all of us, even if we don’t want to admit it, because to the average person who doesn’t blog, anyone who blogs that much is a geek. There’s no denying that whether or not we work in the trade, we are very much a part of that world that produces and consumes media via shared technology.
Details, links below
BLOGGER DINNER—A blogger networking dinner will take place on February 7. Speakers from the international WeMedia conference will attend. The dinner is open to the public at $25 per person with space limited to 40. WeMedia is major event that “explores and fosters the use of digital media to build and improve real communities in a connected society.” The conference is quite costly so the dinner represents a great opportunity to meet these speakers and network with other bloggers.
BARCAMP MIAMI—Barcamp Miami is scheduled place Wednesday, February 21, 2007 from 6 – 9 PM at the University of Miami School of Communication.
REFRESH MIAMI—RefreshMiami held its first meeting this past January. The gatherings bring together designers and developers “working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of New Media endeavors in their areas.”
SCRAPBLOG—New (and fun!) technology on its way, tentatively scheduled to launch at the end of February. “We are defining ‘scrapblogging’ as a new medium for self-expression. Our goal is that Scrapblog will empower everyday people to express themselves online and in the real world.”
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