Personal Reflections Technology

My First BarCamp – BCD5

BarCamp Delhi 5 was held on 11th and 12th October 2008. My first BarCamp, and I can say that it was a truly exhilarating to be a part of this ‘unconference’.

By ‘unconference’, it means that the schedule of BarCamp is decided by the attendees on the day of the event itself. Everyone has an equal say in all matters related to organization (if they come forward, that is). Parallel presentations going on in multiple rooms – and anyone can give one.

The atmosphere’s really informal – you can ask questions in between a presentation (rather than waiting till the end, which is the usual case), walk out if you feel bored and want to attend something else. You can sit down and have a chat with anyone!

I’ve put up photos that I clicked at BarCamp Delhi 5 on Flickr, along with descriptive information about each. I thought that would make much more sense, than simply putting this stuff up here on my blog without ‘visual backup’. Initially my plan was to do live blogging from IIT Delhi (I expected that place to have Wi-Fi), but that wasn’t to be. (And I heard that was because of ‘possible national security issues of having unsecured WiFi networks’.)

Having organized events at the school on the ‘organized’ concept (and of, I guess, the same budget as BarCamp) it was interesting to see how with even such a seemingly ‘disorganized’ approach everything falls into place! Initial doubts that I had were rapidly dispelled as I got into the flow of BarCamp and enjoyed the sessions.

BarCamp is also a good place to socialize with like minded people. I never knew there were students as passionate about open source as Prateek Saxena and Pratul Kalia in Delhi! That, and the stories of the folks who came to BCD5 to talk about their startups. Most of them are people who are really passionate about technology and computers; yet, many of them ended up at nondescript colleges. Despite that fact they are pursuing their dreams of getting their creative ideas to achieve something big, and succeeding at it. Be it the CEO or the co-founder of venture or an employee at a big corporation, you can approach anyone and have free-ranging discussions with them on everything from colleges to company work cultures to open source philosophy.

Given the fact that so many (and varied) sessions were taking place I would suggest you to go through the Flickr link related to BCD5. If you want an even shorter story, a summary of the events follows.

Day 1

The allure of attending my first BarCamp did allow me to wake up before 9am. At 8am, in fact ( šŸ˜® ). Prashanth Kanduri tagged along with me (I guess he was much more excited about going to IIT than BCD). Was apprehensive about being late, but when I reached there I was relieved to find that the sessions hadn’t started yet. (I did miss getting the BarCamp T-shirt though.) Registered, got my ID tag. There were sandwiches for the hungry hordes. The day started off with a presentation on the Making of BarCamp Delhi 5. After that, the (simultaneous) sessions started. That itself makes you call for ‘tough’ choices – on which sessions to attend. The first one I wanted to was one on ‘Lightning Quick Programming Using Python’. We were kept waiting by an IIT professor who was taking some extra class, so this session started late – and the rest of the schedule had to be adjusted for that. Once again, the concept of ‘unconference’ came to the rescue as the schedule isn’t something rigid. Followed by a session on ‘How to Survive When You Startup’ by Piyush Gupta, founder of RouteGuru and among the principal organizers of BCD5. Followed by a ‘Facebook Monetization’ case studies. The session would have been more interesting if the presenter had used examples of Facebook apps they themselves had created and monetized, but then they are into making them for clients. Nevertheless, some of the examples given were good ones on how Facebook can help you Get Big Fast. Lunch consisted of a vegetable thali, which (thankfully) was non-spicy (so I didn’t have to go hungry).

‘Round 2’ of Day 1 went on, the first session I attended in that being DCE alumnus Paras Chopra giving a talk on how he built a web application in six days (really impressive!). Aashish Solanki (of NetBramha Studios – I know, it’s a weird way of spelling ‘Brahma’, isn’t it?) gave a presentation on the importance of designing a corporate logo that reflects the values of a company. Then, Tarun Bhalla of simplyLearnt gave his views on the future of online education in India. This one was interesting as I myself have used a lot of online testing services, and getting to know what goes on behind the scenes. simplyLearnt, for instance, has definitely come up an innovative idea when it comes to online testing – that of directly using content from coaching institutes (their content providers) as Flash objects.

The last session of the day was Twilight Fairy talking about her experiences, which, IMO, was kinda lame (and I’m pretty certain that certain other members in the audience thought that too). The day wrapped up with a feedback session, a Twitter meetup that wasn’t to be (because there was no Wi-Fi), and BeerCamp.

Day 2

Reached early that day only to find that just a handful of people had come. So with this small group of people it was much easier to do introductions, which we did. The crowd didn’t grow much, so we decided to have a short interaction session in the morning which quickly turned into a discussion on blogging. At one point, the issue of corporate blogging came up and I mentioned iTasveer’s blog, which I admire (among corporate blogs) for its frankness. Imagine my surprise when I found that Animesh Jain, one of the core team members of iTasveer was sitting in the audience! Really, it’s a small world!

The schedule for day 2 was a bit less populated, so most of them were held in the Dogra Hall itself sequentially, rather than in parallel at multiple venues. The sessions started after the morning interaction, the first one being some marketing fluff by the Art of Living Foundation – again, really lame. Then came the star attraction amongst the presentations of the day – one by Fabian Rodriguez, a senior support guy with Canonical who gave a talk on the basics of Ubuntu. He was in India to deploy Ubuntu for a client across multiple systems (he’s here as a consultant), and was planning to go to see the Taj Mahal, but Pratul convinced him to come to BarCamp. For those who think that open source isn’t a path for making money, sample this – Fabian worked (till 2003) as an IT administrator for Windows-based setups; and after switching to work for Canonical, he earns three times more than what he did earlier. His job description consists mostly of consulting business organizations who want to deploy Ubuntu and oversee training of employees.

The presentation on Ubuntu had quite a few people interested, but I really don’t think it will translate into something concrete. My impression (formed over the years) is that most people’s response to Linux is a bit like AIDS: they’ve heard about it, given an opportunity (like a seminar) would want to know more about it, but at the end of the day they don’t want to have it. I spent some time explaining a lot of stuff about Ubuntu to Ritesh Goel of and Srajan too. Much like an impromptu parallel BCD5 session!

Prateek and Pratul were organizing a Hackathon after that, which they did. I saw that quite a few IIT guys had turned up there, thinking that it was about breaking into email accounts and stuff. So this is what IIT folks think hacking is. Consider the fact that it was a class 12 commerce student and an IP University college fresher who were conducting the event.

Lunch on day 2 was pizza from Domino’s. The organizers could afford that because far lesser number of people had turned up. Reasonably fresh pizzas. Food at BCD5 gets a thumbs up. šŸ˜€ Post-lunch sessions consisted of talks mostly about the experiences of different people who started up their own companies. The day’s events wrapped up early, but I stayed back for quite some time chatting with the other people there and helping a bit in packing up. I learned a lot. A lot. Definitely going for the next BarCamp. šŸ™‚

Update: There are some more picture’s that you can view here on SlideShare, put up by the product manager of SlideShare (Amit Ranjan) himself!

3 replies on “My First BarCamp – BCD5”

@Vishesh: Thanks for the link! Definitely wanted to see that again, it was good. I added a link to it in the main article itself. šŸ™‚

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