What is Bar Camp?

BarCamp is a loose conference format, with content and direction driven by its participants.

Central to the meeting is a board of sticky-notes, with rooms along one axis and times along the other. Participants may chair their own sessions by choosing a title and sticking a note in that slot. Usually each session will require a little introduction from the chair before opening up into group discussion. A session may take whatever theme the chair chooses- the aim being to share and enjoy a topic.

It’s unashamedly nerdy (though still open and accessible) and a great deal of fun.

BarCamp North East 2

Last year’s BarCamp North-East was my introduction to the format. I could only attend the Saturday, but the spread of talks included:

  • Social Media
  • Cloud Technologies
  • Brewing your own drinks on the super-cheap (tip: visit the grocery at closing time and ask for the stock headed for the bin!)
  • Dealing with procrastination


I presented a session, entitled ‘Bringing web design into the 20th Century‘ during which we formed an ad hoc nu-media think-tank dedicated to committing web design crimes of the nineties. What I’d intended to present in semi-lecture format quickly took a collaborative life of its own as the team gained enthusiasm!

Take home message of the session: We may well look back at our current direction with scorn in 10 years, so don’t be complacent.

Take home message for me: Don’t try to over-structure or control a session… let it evolve!

Alongside the main streams were breakout sessions, such as ‘Powerpoint Karaoke‘ and late-night parlour games.

Another write-up of last year’s event can be found on Caroline Mockett’s blog.

Come and join us!

BarCamp North East 3 will be taking part over the 20th-21st March weekend (yes, ‘over’ the weekend- people spend the night at the venue, hence the ‘Camp’ bit) and will take place at the Centre for Life in Newcastle. BCNE3 is being organised with flair by the inimitable Alistair.

I’ve got one fun session nailed (with competition prizes!) and am hoping to present a second, more serious, session too.

It’s a whole load of fun- and welcoming for newcomers to dive into, so get your ticket now!

Twitter Tag: #bcne3