April 2nd, 2009

Wow. Just: wow. This BarCamp was completely different than all the previous ones I’ve attended. Why? Because instead of being a regular attendee, I offered to volunteer during (and one day before) the event. Instead of that diminishing my BarCamp adventure (which I think most people would expect), it has only intensified it and heightened the overall experience; this BarCamp felt so much more greater and satisfying just because I was finally able to give something back to the wonderful Barcamp community.

Uber kudos have to go to the amazing BarCampLondon6 team! Emma, Kevin, Dan, Caz, Leeky, Tom, Cristiano, Dirk, David, Eva-Lotte, David, Mary, Paul and Jan have all been working for the past 4 months on creating such a great event. My two-day contribution is minor compared to the time and effort they’ve put into this and without them this BarCamp would never have happened.

BarCamp Lego Logo

For me, this BarCamp started on Friday evening, when I headed with Cristiano to the Guardian offices to help with setting things up. Together with some others I was appointed the tasks of arranging the swag bags: filling them with goodies, hanging name tags on them, adding the personalized Spreadshirt T-shirts and alphabetizing it all (not an easy and quick task for 150 bags and more than 1500 “goodies”).

Part of this work carried on to the Saturday morning; it’s a bit blurry to remember exactly which of this stuff happened on the Friday and which on the Saturday. After that I was set on the registration desk for 3 hours, checking in people and keeping track of the overall number of attendees. There was a fantastic turnup; I’m guessing things like the personalized Spreadshirt T-Shirt, the donations and the ‘confirm you ticket’ email, all helped to combat the no-showiness of people. 

The rest of the two days I could easily attend sessions, interspersed with bouts of helping out during food deliveries, clean up and stuff like that. Here are a couple of the sessions I went to:

The first session I went to was Cristiano’s and mine joint session about how to play Carcassonne. We had a great turn out and were lucky that Sheila showed up with her box too. We split into two groups to explain the rules and managed to get both games finished within the time.

Playing Carcassonne

Social Games
I went to this session thinking it would be about Werewolf and those type of social games. It wasn’t, but it turned out to be an interesting discussion about games that allow you to portray and play with relationships, like Facade or The Sims.

Miracle Berries
Reinier had brought special miracle berry tablets with him that alters your taste; after sucking on them until they dissolve, everything you eat tastes sweeter. Lemons aren’t sour anymore, off-season strawberries taste delicious and no-sugar yoghurt tastes sugary. At least in theory: it seemed to work for everyone but me. The lemons were suckable, but everything else for me was pretty much the same.
While I’m still pretty skeptical about “treatments” like this, I have to admit my body felt better after this session. I’m almost convinced that it’s because of this session that my legs didn’t hurt at all during the entire two days. 

Ancient Techonology
Jane described this session to me as an experiment with a potato and a pencil. How can you not go to a session like that?! It was all about how to create your own spindle: stick a pencil through a potato, wind some string in a certain way around it and start spinning! Jane had actually brought wool with her too, so everyone was spinning and spindling as crazy.


The Saturday evening was of course spent playing Werewolf and other games. Tom and Dom held another of their Geek Quizzes, this time it was tricker than the one my team won in Liverpool. We also managed to convince more people into playing Carcassonne and it seemed like everybody enjoyed it. I only got to play two rounds of Werewolf this time, and of course the one round where I was a werewolf I got lynched because of my past reputation.

The entire weekend was great fun and I’m sure I haven’t even covered a quarter of what happened in those two days. Next week (this Saturday) we’ll be heading down to BarCampBournemouth, which is sure to be great too. I’m already psyched though for the next London; hopefully I can help a bit more this time. Anyone else interested?