I’m back from New York City where I attended BarCampNYC2, the unconference where everybody is invited, everybody presents, nobody wears shoes, the rules change at least twice a day, people understand what you do for a living, and you get to spend the night in a Microsoft conference room.
Barcamp is highly equalitarian: not for political reasons but for geeky effectiveness. Things work when ideas flow freely and build on each other without obstacles. The rules (everybody presents, no shoes, sleep-overs, and the “two feet rule” or “If you’re not interested, change the conversation or use your two feet to move to another one”) conjure a social environment where barriers between individuals and social hierarchies crumble down and the flow of ideas is nurtured.
The BarCampNYC2 discussions were about coding, privacy and openID, social software, open source, the future of web apps, and entrepreneurship. But they were also about creating humane work practices (such as coworking) that allow smart and independent young individual to work, earn money, and have a career without selling their souls or renounce beauty and freedom.
Thanks to the organizers who did an amazing job keeping things going, finding sponsors, and feeding us; and thanks to Microsoft, that graciously and generously accepted Barcamp’s friendly takeover and let us sleep on the grey carpet.