Sunday, April 1, 2007

HOWTO: BarCamp

The idea of BarCamp came up during discussions with Erik/Hash/WhiteAfrican. There was loads of different guys doing their own things - techies, developers, designers, bloggers, entrepreneurs ... and a forum such as BarCamp was needed to bring them all together.

We decided to keep this one simple ... test the waters. We didn't want to have any complicated budgets etc for it. And we just wanted to see how it would turn out ... pretty amazing for a first time. And boy was it really simple to put together :)


  • Get a venue ... turns out lots of students are psyked about this stuff - you can easily get a venue on campus.
  • Depending on size - get some minimum sponsorship for stationary & water etc ... (we got that from Wananchi)
  • Line up a projector & five backups (again, depending on size)
  • Publicize - put the word out there ... and be prepared not to expect your friends, but complete strangers mostly :)
  • Ways to publicize - we had bloggers, Genius, our own companies, and posters around campus. The blogging forums were pretty effective. Hugest turnout from universities. Viral marketing also works wonders.
  • Get WiFi
  • Setup at least 2 hours before setup to finish before start-time.

Lessons Learnt

  • Backup Projector is a must - Thanks Eric !!! you're a life-saver
  • Has to be a circle - the lecture format just automatically restricts how much discussion can go on.
  • Fewer Presentations ... turns out a lot of people barely got through presenting their idea in 10 mins ... and we had to stretch it to allow questions and discussion ... and started running really short on time. One of the ideas is to have smaller BarCamps focussed on specific issues - eg blogging, or content.
And then have a properly organized BarCamp that would be for bringing together all the chaos again in an entire longer weekend session. At a beach possibly :)

  • The above works out pretty well - the Skunkworks forums are actually mini-BarCamps every week ... and then once every quarter we can put together a massive event. We even got sponsors already ...
  • Get some kind of online streaming, blogging etc ... and publicize it well before the event. Was running a skype call with Vincent (Kenyamoto) but am sure a lot of ppl were awaiting feedback.
  • People don't get what "BarCamp" is all about still ... pole for some dude who came for wine-tasting.
  • Has to be more informal ... more chaotic ... with more breaks. That's why the next one is going to be in Mombasa - save your busfare.
  • Some more vinywaji for guys.


- The volunteers on site - Kiania, Sande, Linda, Edgar
- All the speakers and startups
- Ashok for WiFi
- Kenyamoto for the cameraman - we should hopefully have video out shortly.
- KBW and all individual bloggers for spreading the word - whiteafrican, mental, AfroM (our groupie !), Kenyan Pundit, KikuyuMoja, mashada, bankelele.
- Erik for the BarCamp logo - it caught so much attention !!!
- Genius (Harry) for publicity, and the lovely reception welcome :)
- Wananchi Online - for anything that required a budget - flyers, bottled water, stationary etc. Huge thanks.

Looking Forward

- all our tools are "open-source" - feel free to ask to use the barcamp-nbi GoogleGroups and the BarCamp Wiki is already open. The group contains all participants on Saturday.
- join skunkworks - i think you'll find a lot of our ideas also come up there ... specially the chillout sessions every other week.
- JUST DO IT ... anyone can organize this - so just take up the intiative. Be sure to let us know so we can attend.

Eric, Josiah, Riyaz, Timothy, David, Nick
This was so much fun !!!


simon said...

The BarCamp was great. Looking forward to better things in the future...
(I'm the guy who tried to connect to wi-fi via infrared port.)

Gitts said...

the barcamp was great though I came in late and missed a lot. Time was an issue though

digtabulous said...

yea, i liked the event as well. actually heard about it from another techie who worked in S.A.; then one of our project people sent me your link yesterday; crazy how word gets around. Looking forward to some drinks, less lecture, more mingling next time in Mombasa. kathleen