Recap: BarCampEdmonton2

Yesterday was the first really beautiful day of the summer here in Edmonton, with temperatures near 30 degrees and sun all day long. It was also the day we held BarCampEdmonton2, at the World Trade Centre downtown. The weather probably had an impact on the attendance, because we had less people than anticipated (around 80). Despite that however, I’d say the event was still a big success! It was another demonstration of the fantastic tech community we have in Edmonton.

Reg setting up the scheduleBarCampEdmonton2

We had three tracks each with 20 minute timeslots for sessions followed by 10 minute breaks. In true unconference-style, we started by having everyone who wanted to lead a discussion or deliver a presentation put their topic and name on a sticky note. Reg then arranged them all on the schedule.

I ended up with two timeslots. First thing in the morning, where I talked for a bit about Foundations for an Open Edmonton and led an interesting discussion about open cities, and second at 2pm, where I talked about Edmonton Transit’s recent Data for Developers announcement. Some of the other sessions included: The Perfect User Experience by Peter, New Interfaces in Visual Search Refinement by Reg, How To Not Raise VC $ by Shaun, VOIP+SIP: A Primer by Slepp, Chocolate Monkey Heads by Chris, and Licensing Tech from Universities by Brant. Of course, lunch time and the many breaks throughout the day provided lots of opportunities for ad hoc discussion, and that’s really what BarCamp is all about!

Perhaps the session I was most looking forward to was the one by Rob Davy and his colleagues from ENTS, the Edmonton New Technology Society. They’re working to create a “collaborative and social technology workspace” here in the city, akin to hackerspaces and collaborative workspaces in other cities. I wrote about Workspace in Vancouver last fall, and wondered why Edmonton didn’t have something similar. Now we will! I’m really excited about it. You can visit ENTS tonight from 6-7pm at 10575 114th Street for an open house.

Pizza time!BarCampEdmonton2

Maybe we’ll do the next BarCamp in the winter, when it’s cold outside and everyone will want to come inside! Before that however, is a new event called UX Camp, taking place on July 18th from 9am to 5pm at MacEwan.

Thanks again to sponsors TEC Edmonton, iNovia Capital, and Smibs, and to everyone who came out to BarCamp yesterday! You can see the rest of my photos here.

Foundations for an Open Edmonton

Today at BarCamp, I led a discussion around building an open Edmonton. Inspired by the great things happening in Vancouver, I wanted to stimulate the discussion here. I started with two fundamentals:

  1. The City of Edmonton must have the desire to be an open city.
  2. The primary audience is the Creative Class of Edmonton, the secondary audience is all citizens.

Next, I shared what I feel are the five basic foundations of an open city:

  1. Free – both financially and philosophically
  2. Permissive Licensing – things like Creative Commons, should be public domain
  3. Open Standards – formats that anyone can read and write
  4. Plentiful Data – make as much data available as possible
  5. Timely Access – eliminate delays and give everyone equal access

After my five slides (a photo for each of the above) we got into a great discussion about the idea. Here are some of the questions that came up:

  • Are citizens ready for so much data?
  • Why would City Council not want to be an open city?
  • What is the current state of progress on the idea in Edmonton?
  • How does privacy & security factor in?
  • What are some great examples of other cities doing this?

All things that we need to explore further. I’m not sure what the next step is, but eventually, I think it would be great to make a presentation on becoming an open city to Council.

In the meantime, Edmonton has already made some data available – a Google Transit data feed – and some other examples include London’s mySociety. Also, be sure to read Vancouver’s Open City Motion.

BarCampEdmonton2 – June 13th

Almost an entire year has passed since our first BarCamp in Edmonton! We’ve had no shortage of events during that time, but nothing is quite the same as BarCamp, which is why I’m really looking forward to BarCampEdmonton2 taking place later this month. Here are the details:

Date: Saturday, June 13, 2009
Time: 10am – 5pm
Location: 6th floor, World Trade Centre (map)
Cost: Free

We’ve only got room for 110 people, and over 70 have already signed up. Make sure to add your name to the list! This is one event you definitely don’t want to miss. If you’re new to the idea:

BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering of people in and interested in the Edmonton tech community. BarCamp is a series of loosely scheduled 20 minute presentations/discussions about whatever the community is interested in.

The unique things are that the attendees are also the presenters, and the agenda is created first thing in the morning. You don’t need to present anything though, so feel free to simply attend (though I think you’ll get more out of it by participating). Lunch and drinks will be provided, and you’re sure to learn something new. It’s a great opportunity to meet others in the Edmonton community!

Be sure to use the #BarCampYEG hashtag on Twitter.

See you there!

Recap: BarCampEdmonton1

barcampedmonton Today was the big day – Edmonton’s first BarCamp! And I think it’s safe to say that BarCampEdmonton1 (BCE1) was a big success! About 100 people attended, and the schedule was packed with three tracks of 20 minute presentations separated by 10 minute breaks.

The event got underway at the World Trade Centre downtown at about 10 AM. We passed around sticky notes for people to write their topics on and then started to build the agenda for the day. After a few quick opening remarks and some thanks to sponsors TEC Edmonton and Nexopia, city councillor Don Iveson read a proclamation for BarCamp Day in Edmonton. The first sessions got going at 11 AM. You can see the schedule we came up with here. There was quite a range of topics – everything from Financing An Idea to Why Are Fundamental Programming Skills Second to Framework Knowledge.

Lunch consisted of sandwiches from Sunterra, and lots of beer from local brewery Alley Kat. The venue was excellent for this kind of event as it offered lots of little areas to break into discussions, and attendees definitely made the most of them. The afternoon’s sessions finished at about 4 PM, after which a bunch of us headed over to Pub 1905.

I presented my talk on Twitter and also presented a session on Wireless in Edmonton with Eric. The wireless for the event was powered by a bunch of Eric’s Open Mesh devices, and for the most part it worked quite well. I think our presentation was very well-received, and I hope it got people excited for wireless in our city.

I know there were a few people taking photos and recording video, so watch for those to appear over the next few days. Check out the tag BarCampYEG at Twitter, Flickr, and Google Blog Search. You can see a partial list of attendees on the wiki – feel free to add yourself if you’re missing.

If you have feedback on today’s event or if you’d like to get involved with upcoming events, please let us know. You can leave a comment here, or on the BarCampEdmonton blog. Or you can email or Twitter or otherwise message us – we’re fairly easy to track down!

Thanks to everyone who attended today, and of course to everyone who volunteered their time and helped to make BCE1 a success. We’ll likely have a few DemoCamps before the next BarCamp, but I’m already looking forward to it!

Reminder: BarCampEdmonton1 is tomorrow!

I’m quite excited for Edmonton’s first BarCamp tomorrow! Over 100 people have signed up to attend, and hopefully many of them will have things they’d like to share or talk about. I’m planning to talk about the state of wireless Internet access in Edmonton, and why I think Twitter could take over the world. Should be good.

There are about 20 spots left, so if you are still sitting on the fence – sign up now! You’ll meet lots of great people, and I guarantee you’ll learn something new.

If you’re participating tomorrow, please use BarCampYEG when tagging photos, videos, posts, and other digital media. On Twitter and other microblogging services, be sure to use hashtag #BarCampYEG. That way it’s easier to find everything:

See you all tomorrow!