In today’s fast moving world, it is a challenge to stay up to date. Traditionally, there are a number of formats for updating knowledge, including conferences, training workshops (in-house and external), certifications, books and more. Arguably, those formats involving being taught by real people are more expensive, ranging from cheap (on-line webinars) to moderate (conferences) to expensive (workshops). Today, we’d like to introduce yet another format which recently gained in popularity: The Barcamp.
What is a Barcamp?
A Barcamp is a conference format where the attendees are also the instructors. Barcamps often take place on a weekend and are moderately priced. This is a clear signal to invest time (rather than money), and addresses people who are truly passionate about the topic on hand.
So – how can this work? When the event starts, a large, empty agenda is usually mounted to a wall. Usually there are a few parallel tracks, like in a normal conference. The event starts with a planning session, where attendees write their topics on cards that they pin to the agenda. As one card after the other is placed (and the topic briefly introduced by its owner), the agenda fills up.
Once the agenda is complete, the event is similar to a regular conference, where attendees pick one of the parallel sessions to attend. But in contrast to a regular conference, you won’t get a presentation that puts you to sleep. Instead, the person who suggested the session is moderating it in a workshop-fashion, and the attendees are expected to participate. The resulting discussions can be extremely stimulating.
Also, expect not just to receive knowledge, but also to give it. There are sessions for sharing new ideas or techniques, but also sessions posing open questions, hoping to get answers or inspiration from the attendees. In fact, this is the greatest value of a Barcamp. People who bring a question that resonates with others are usually those benefiting the most from the event.
Barcamps for Engineering Knowledge
There are Barcamps for all kinds of topics, but for the readers of this blog, acquiring engineering knowledge probably has a high priority. Formal Mind actively supports the community. We helped organizing a Barcamp on Modeling in November, and support the System Engineering Barcamp this coming Saturday (December 3rd) in Hamburg, Germany.
Systems Engineering Barcamps have a long tradition in Germany, this one being the sixth. In fact, the format has become so popular, that the format is now overseen by GfSE, the German chapter of INCOSE. This will ensure the neutrality of these events and will help to coordinate the organization across Germany.
We look forward to seeing you at a Barcamp, maybe already this Saturday in Hamburg.