BarCampMilwaukee 12 - 14 Oct 2007

If you're a tech enthusiast in the Midwest you won't want to miss BarCampMilwaukee, taking place 12 - 14 October 2007.

If you know what barcamps are, go immediately to the registration page and sign up! The registration fee is hard to beat -- Free! If barcamp is a tech term new to you, read on...

Barcamps are tech 'unconferences', informal and somewhat chaotic gatherings of tech enthusiasts with the agenda, sessions and overall tone of the conference meant to be driven by the barcamp participants. There are no 'attendees' at barcamps, only participants, and all participants are expected to both learn and share.

Barcamps were started in 2005, partly as a spin-off from the O'Reilly Media Foo Camp, which Wikipedia describes as "the wiki of conferences." Someone who had previously participated in an O'Reilly Foo Camp but had not been invited to Foo Camp 2005 decided they and some of their friends in the Silicon Valley region should start the informal equivalent of Foo Camp. With minimal money and only one week of event organizing, the first ever barcamp was launched on 19 August 2007 in Palo Alto, California, USA with about 200 people participating. That first barcamp catalyzed numerous other unconference-style events, often called camps, around the world in which thousands of people have partipated. The best thing about the camps, though, is the amount of interaction and learning and sharing that goes on between event participants after the camp is over. Because the camp participants are passionate about the central topic of the camp, they are usually ecstatic to connect with others at the event who share their passion. Because of this, there is tons more post-event interaction between barcamp participants than there would be following a standard industry tech conference that had well-known speakers and had many attendees at the event simply because their company paid for them to be there.

In the CM3/I-94 region of the Midwest USA (Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis), Minneapolis was the first city to hold a barcamp (MinneBar) followed by Chicago (BarCampChicago). After participating in BarCampChicago in 2006, Justin Kruger was so motivated by the experience that he registered the domain barcampmilwaukee.com the day after he got home from BarCampChicago. Working with Pete Prodoehl and other Wisconsin tech enthusiasts, Justin led the organizing and implementation of the first BarCampMilwaukee in 2006. BarCampMilwaukee, held in the fall of 2006, was naturally followed by BarCampMadison in the winter, for which Ken Rheingans was the lead organizer and which Justin, Pete, Blake Hall and others helped make a reality. Once spring arrived, MinneBar rolled around again, so Justin and I ran up to MinneBar 2007 to complete our year of attending quarterly CM3 barcamps. We've enjoyed seeing the differences each region brings to their barcamps, and it's great that a quarterly rotation of these tech unconferences has serendipitously evolved, with Minneapolis in the spring, followed by Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. With the I-94 highway tying the four metro areas together, it's a pretty easy drive to make it to any of the four events. Very few stop lights...

(Luke W. has suggested TarCampCM3, an idea that I'd love to see happen. TarCampCM3, or TarCampI-94, would be a barcamp where half the sessions occur on the road and the other sessions are held in the four cities. So we'd have the event kickoff and first few sessions in Chicago, then jump in a convoy of vehicles surrounded by an internet cloud, do a couple sessions on the road to Milwaukee, do several sessions in that city at somewhere like Bucketworks, then lather/rinse/repeat all the way to Minneapolis, where we'd have the last few sessions and the wrap-up discussion.)

That's a little background on barcamps. For more info either do some searching on the web or send me an email, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have about BarCampMilwaukee, about barcamps in general, or about starting a barcamp or other type of unconference in your area. There have been WineCamps, iPhoneCamps, MobileCamps and other flavors of camps -- the idea is to get people passionate about a particular topic, whether it is technology or something else, together to learn and share at a very low cost and in a participant-driven setting.

Hope to see you at BarCampMilwaukee in a few weeks, or at some other tech, innovation, entrepreneurial or collaboration event in the near future!



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