BarCampDC 2007 – Part 2

This coverage of BarCampDC is Part 2 of 2. For coverage of the morning sessions, check out BarCampDC 2007 – Part 1.

Update:  Some of the presentations are available on the BarCampDC Wiki.

The first session after lunch (fifth overall) was a joint session between Jackson Wilkinson (pictured left) of Viget Labs and me (pictured right) on the "Mobile Web". We talked about some of the context and development issues that go along with mobile development and it turned in a lively discussion about the state of the industry, especially compared to other nations. The question that kept coming up related to how people currently use the mobile web and the sheer cost of it. We handed the discuss back and forth as we went and the questions were asked. Overall, I think we managed to balance the discussion well between the strategy considerations from Jackson and the development considerations from me. After reading a few reviews and comments, it appears that others liked the discussion handoff as well.

The second session was a "Ruby (not Rails) Crash Course" from Nikolas Coukouma. It covered the basics of the language along with some operators, etc that people often overlook. If you've spent more than an afternoon with Ruby, you've probably discovered all but a couple of them. Remember, you can subtract arrays.

I was a bit doubtful of the next presentation, it just seemed a little odd. The session – called "World of Warcraft as the new Golf" – from Tom Bridge described just that. How WoW has steadily become a place for people to gather, play a game, and meet up with others of a similar mind. As a result, he identified it as one of the "shared experiences" that other groups might have by going to a bar, getting together for the game, etc that just isn't possible due to distances, timezones, etc.

I find some of the social aspects of this interesting and quite similar to Open Source in general. In that sort of scenario, we group together according to common goals and tasks with people we may or may not have ever met. I have said it before and will restate it here: I only recruit out of Open Source Projects. Being able to look at their interactions – with code and people – over time is useful in weeding out the jerks and useful in identifying the clueful. I see quite easily how playing a game with someone over a long term could result in the same.

The third session was "Word of Mouth Marketing" and was a roundtable instead of a presentation. Early in the session, someone asked the difference between "viral marketing" and "word of mouth marketing" and it became a heated debate. Some people tried to parse the difference by who initiates it, some by the marketing budget, some by who picked it up, etc. After that discussion went nowhere for a while, we started talking about successful and failed efforts and what made them so. One of the most interesting aspects was that although we were all tech-types from the Mid-Atlantic and relatively well connected within our different communities, there were different campaigns that hit some of us but not others. The efforts may have saturated individual communities, but we were just different enough that they didn't hit all of us.

I skipped the last session to talk business development and planning with a small startup with some aspects which mesh nicely with our newest product. Unfortunately, there are a ways from launch, so in the meantime, I'll have to implement something else.

The night wound down with a Happy Hour and numerous discussions ranging from the object-oriented database design to the design and interaction breakthroughs related to the Nintendo Wii with Jesse Thomas to sharing old stories and talking small business with former collabator Martin Ringlein.

All in all, it was a good time and definitely worth going again. The only potential downside was the non-existant coverage of PHP but this was easily mitigated by the numerous conceptual and princple talks that apply regardless of the language.

In the meantime, I'll have to check out RefreshDC.