This is a guest post written by Chris McCraw, a Senior Systems Engineer at New Relic.
Once upon a time, Tim O’Reilly had a party and invited some of his geeky friends. It was FooCamp — the first unconference — where passionate people gathered for a few days, organically brainstormed a schedule, and then discussed the topics they’d just decided on. There was an unofficial rule that no PowerPoint was allowed, as these were discussions more than presentations.
In 2007, one of the attendees of the initial FooCamp decided to throw his own unconference — and in deference to geek traditions — called it BarCamp. Since then, there have been hundreds of BarCamps worldwide. The format is simple and the process has been open sourced on the website barcamp.org.
Portland has an especially dynamic technology community that is engaged and active. It is thus the home of one of the larger and more frequent BarCamps. The event has run (almost) annually in Portland since 2006, with an ever changing cast of characters organizing it. But it’s largely supported by local companies like New Relic who was one of this year’s lead sponsors.
BarCamp Portland boasts free food and drinks for attendees to facilitate networking and continued conversation over the breaks between sessions. It typically draws between 200 – 300 people who talk about a variety of topics — from gardening to garbage collection, knitting to kernel hacking, social media to startups. If it’s something people geek out about, it’s probably been talked about at BarCamp Portland. This year’s event saw almost 300 attendees, 44 individual sessions over the course of two days, and a lots of great conversations. The BarCamp team has posted notes with the archived schedule so you can see what was discussed. Or check out their Flickr stream to see pictures of the event.
Chris McCraw is a joy facilitator and community builder who’s already picking his topics for BarCamp Portland 7.