On a gloriously sunny Saturday I headed down to Bournemouth University to take part in my first barcamp experience. When walking into the event a whole mixture of feelings were rolling around inside of me. I was excited at being around like-minded people, curious at what to expect, and also nervous knowing that I'll be doing my first bit of proper public speaking later in the day.
The whole concept of an un-conference was new to me so I really had no idea what to expect. How many people would be there? Are they all going to be professional industry folk? Will there be any other students? My past experience has been with much bigger and more organised conferences like dConstruct. Most definitely the biggest difference is that absolutely anyone can walk up to the schedule and add their 45 minute presentation or activity. The cool thing about this is that everyone is free to have a say and talk about what they want. On the flip-side, however, there is a clear element of competition between speakers about positioning of their talks so they don't clash with other potentially popular talks. I wasn't too worried about this myself, seeing as it was my first talk, but I know that there is a certain unconscious aspect that a bigger audience equals a more popular talk.
My nerves and excitement hit fever-pitch at 3:15pm when it was my turn to present. I'd been preparing my talk on HTML5 canvas for the last few days and hadn't practised it. Luckily, after some initial technical difficulties, the talk went well and even encouraged a few questions at the end. The highlight of my talk was when a young fellow in the front row fell asleep. I now know why they call it the graveyard shift. If you're interested in seeing why I believe HTML5 canvas is the future of graphics on the Web, then have a flick through my slides which I've included below.
Still, the day was great fun and I enjoyed all the talks that I attended. Here is a quick overview of my favourites:
- Angela Barnard's plea to recognise the importance of content strategy. I found this particularly interesting as I'm currently battling with the content for Rawkes and how to organise and approach it in future versions.
- David Burton's humorous and thought-provoking overview of creativity and his 10 tips for better brainstorming. He also highlighted how different people have different traits when it comes to being creative. Personally I see myself as a fact-finder with a little bit of organising thrown in for good measure.
- Damian Proctor's beautiful presentation on design principles. It included a wide variety of examples which highlighted his points perfectly.
I've no idea if they would but I'd definitely like to see all three do their presentations again in front of my course at university. Not only were the presentations amazing, but the fact they come from people involved in the industry will inspire a lot of the students.
Overall, it was a fun day and I'll definitely be attending any future barcamp events in the area. I would advise anyone else who wants to get involved in the industry to do the same.