Following two planned days in Brighton last week I had the pleasure of staying on for an extra day to attend Brighton BarCamp 4 (Saturday 5th September). The first thing I must note about the BarCamp experience was the truly awesome venue!
Walkaround BarcampBrighton 4 (2009)
Original footage filmed and uploaded by Chris Keene
The rest of my thoughts form the remainder of this post – plus a brief mention of my trip to Tuttle in Royal Tunbridge Wells on Wednesday 9th (thank you all whom make me welcome!).
It was my 4th BarCamp of recent years, I’ve now attended three in Brighton and one in London. I’ve run sessions at three out of four, but ‘participated’ at all, as are The Rules of BarCamp =)
For those who may not be familiar with the BarCamp experience I offer a quote from ‘Man on the Moon’, the 1999 film based on the life of Andy Kaufman:
“The audience expects me to shock them all the time, and besides faking my own death I don’t know what to do.”
Replacing the word ‘shock’ with ‘encourage discussion and thought’ lacks the comedic genius of Kaufman but it does loosely describe both a) my consciousness every-time I sit down to write a blog post; and b) the BarCamp attendees role (focused mainly on shared participation and experience).
The beautiful part about a BarCamp (and to a large extent a Tuttle gathering) is that there’s no need for anyone to be nervous or fake their own death – all attendees are accepting, friendly, supportive and most importantly willing to share – you definitely get out what you put in! The key things to remember are that product presentations and sales pitches are not allowed, the ‘two ears one mouth‘ approach is a considered rule of thumb; and if you find that you’re not interested in a session or conversation you can simply use the two foot rule and walk onto the next without disruption or feeling as if you’ve offended anyone.
I view BarCamp and conversation as non-linear (they are threaded and dispersed, two-way or multi-channel, just like Web 2.0 social media and online community).
If you ‘the reader of this post’ have actually met me in person it is probable that you will already know of my respect for Dr Edward de Bono and his concept of PO and Six Thinking Hats methodology. You may also be aware of my fascination with the two hemispheres of the brain and how the left-brain is extremely process driven where as the right-brain is more dispersed and energy driven. I recommend watching Jill Bolte Taylor’s amazing TED talk for a better insight:
You may not be aware that I present much of my thinking relative to the mathematical theory of ‘Dispersed cross-sensitivity (in a self-organizing system)’ – which roughly speaking means:
“Water flowing down a river does less for the land than rain falling widely over the same area – this is why the Grand Canyon runs through a desert.” Edward de Bono
It is under this same principle, and with the same high regard for ‘creativity and innovation without boundaries’ that I scatter my thinking, my time and my energy, in a perhaps bold attempt to develop inspiration, understanding, thoughts and abilities (both within myself and others) – I continue this approach when I attend events like BarCamp and Tuttle.
A quick summary of BarCamp 4
I met and was introduced to at least eight new and truly interesting people – this was worth the journey alone! I also attended a host of sessions including a few geeky presentations such as ‘an introduction to the internet browsers new CSS3 standard‘ and ‘Andriod Mobile development made simple’, through to graduate employment discussions like ‘Is a qualification, or just plain enthusiasm, the most suitable requirement for getting a job in a creative/digital agency? by Sam Murray-Sutton‘ and even broader workshops such as ‘How to trace your family tree online by Rachel Clarke‘ – I trust this underlines my dispersed ‘rain falling’ analogy.
The diagram below is a quick attempt to demonstrate some of my developing thoughts relating to the ‘current’ social, technological and capitalist evolution (from an Industrial Age, towards a Digital Age), and an apparent acceptance/emergence of a dispersed approach – from linear (top-down) processes and policies, to dispersed (bottom-up) business models, communities and social networks.
Now, at this point, I must state very clearly that this post offers no answers, and on the day I attended BarCamp I did not intend to deliver answers, nor did I intend to present a linear series of questions, I simply set out to scatter some random thoughts amongst some open-minded participants in an attempt to discover if any of my concepts/mindset rang true.
Firstly his presentation title reminded me of a blog post I’d seen entitled ‘How to be a Samurai designer’, but Tom’s considered similarities between the martial art of Aikido and the complex art of software development went much deeper than a short blog post, covering key individuals such as Mary Poppendieck, to highlight some common cultural/philosophical values such as ‘keeping balanced in your approach’, ‘keeping a clean sword cut’ (code cleanliness and re-factoring), ‘keeping up regular practice and re-examination of technique’ – plus the importance of mastering the basics.
The presentation, and resulting participant feedback (from both Tom’s well delivered presentation and my own un-structured un-focused session), plus a recent trip to Royal Tunbridge Wells Tuttle (where I met yet more interesting and friendly folk) has provoked my thinking upon ‘the principles and learning of development systems'; which have since forced me to further consider our likely evolution from Industrial to Digital (or at least our acceptance/emergence of Digital Age values/practices).
From a perspective of martial arts, I find myself pondering the potential value in ‘protecting yourself whilst protecting your opponent’ and most interestingly:
During our move from Industrial Age to the Digital Age, we must be extremely mindful when transferring the weight from one foot to the other or else we risk falling over or being caught unaware by unforeseen opponents (circumstances).
Spreading our weight across both feet and being agile in both movement and thinking may allow us to defeat the toughest opponent.
Finally I digress once again, towards another TED talk on social dynamics and motivational drivers, to underline how some of our ‘Industrial Age’ beliefs are now proven to be fallacies – and thus there may be better ways to ‘learn, exercise and develop’ long-term value. See: Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation.
I do hope this post hasn’t been too unfocused/unstructured. I do hope you’ve got some goodness out of it and I look forward to any thoughts and constructive criticisms you may have on my latest babble =)