BarCampRDU 2008 was a lot of fun. According to the official website (http://www.barcamp.org/BarCampRDU):
A Bar Camp is an unconference where people interested in a wide range of technologies come together to teach and learn. Unfamiliar with the un-conference format? Heres the idea in a nutshell. Rather than having scheduled speakers, everyone pitches sessions the morning of the BarCamp. Those sessions are put on a schedule, and lots of little groups form for intense group learning. Everyone is expected to teach, to talk, to participate. Yeah, its different from a regular conference – but it works!
The idea of an unconference came together when people realized the best times they were having at conferences were the times between sessions – where people with like interests could meet ad hoc. The goal of BarCamp is to facilitate this type of interaction for an entire day. We supply the food, the space, the wireless, the projectors – you show up to teach and learn.
Much of the discussion at the event involved startups and early-stage projects.
It is important to note that many (if not most) of the attendees at BarCamp are involved in the software, either online or shrink-wrapped. Our firm normally deals with physical projects that involve long lead times and very high prototyping costs. At BarCampRDU many of the projects, or concepts being discussed, revolved around software products that could be prototyped in a weekend. This is a stark contrast to the extremely high prototyping costs that we see associated with many mass-produced physical products.
There was definitely an excitement to the conference that showed through in the interactions between the attendees. This is the type of event that provides encouragement, advice and resources for budding entrepreneurs. It is my opinion that we need more of this type of event to help fuel imaginations and sheer force-of-will behind the next wave of product-driven companies.
Montie Roland is President of the Carolinas Chapter of the Product Development Management Association. Roland is also President of Montie Design, a product development and prototyping firm in Morrisville, NC and the RTP Product Development Guild. You can reach Montie by email at: email@example.com