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Looking back at a wonderful weekend at BarCampMediaCity

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Ian Forrester Ian Forrester | 17:48 UK time, Wednesday, 21 September 2011

From 1030 on Saturday 17th till 1600 on Sunday 18th September we hosted the BBC’s first ever BarCamp, in Quay house at MediaCityUK.

With 5 years of planning and 200+ attendees over 36 hours there were lots of great ideas, unique collaborations and interesting discussions.

BarCamps originated in the US and are ad-hoc gatherings born from the desire to share and learn in an open environment, something BBC R&D affectionately endorses. The feeling always was that the BBC could be the perfect host for BarCamp. We were not wrong, in fact, it was one of the largest BarCamps ever held in the UK.

BarCamp is all about the ideas and sessions. People came to MediaCityUK for this event buzzing with new ideas around technology, future media and a range of interests. No running order, no set agenda – just a big empty ‘Grid’ of 20-minute slots where attendees could post their ideas to present a session over the course of two days.

We shot a video through out the weekend of some of the great people involved in the BarCamp, but the video only gives a minor glimpse of what its all about...

A few trends were noticeable during the weekend…
Quite a few of the talks surrounded the areas of hardware hacking, inspiring the next generation, gamification, the balance of security and privacy and even the future of TV. Here are some of the session highlights around these themes:

Hardware Hacking:
Tips to build a 3D scanner; Hacking the kinect; Open frameworks and kinect hacking; Cloud robotics and Android.

There was quite a few talks related to hardware hacking (the legal act) and although quite tech focused, had enough broad appeal to rope in large numbers of people. R&D's own Matthew Shotton's tips for building a 3D scanner had a sell out audience, with almost 50 people.

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Inspiring the next generation:
Programming should be taught in schools – discuss; Media + Tech in Education; How kids play web games; A proposal for a BBC driven Code Lab.
The Code Lab proposal by Alan O'Donohoe, a computer teacher from Preston, was the most interesting but also answered the question of should programming be taught in schools? The proposal turned out to be a pitch for a serious idea, but of course not in any way connected to the BBC.

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Gamification:
Gamfication brilliant or balls?; Why don’t PC gamers scowl at Xbox players?; How do kids play web games?; Anatomy of a web game.
The Brilliant or balls talk was given by Lancaster's Paul Coulton and really got people thinking about good and bad uses of gamification. The rest addressed aspect of gaming not usually talked about.

Security and Privacy:
How to protect your website 101; How to break into a BankPrivacy and your identity.
These sessions were given by physical and network penetration testers and focused on giving out useful information about common mis-perceptions in security.

And finally the future of the TV:
What is HD?; Piracy is the saviour of Television?; How many screens do we need?; Connected TV apps.
Challenging sessions from individuals on the edge of the traditional TV world. Very similar to the kind of discussions had at the Edinburgh TV Unfestival 3 years ago.

All the talks were fascinating and ranged from open discussions to early presented research. It was great to see the group conversations and people pairing off into the corners of Quay House for a quiet talk over dinner.

It’s the nature of BarCamp that no one knows where these conversations will lead but I can certainly say that BBC R&D staff were actively involved in the these conversations. Expect to see these topics develop and morph into something in the near future.

And to end this post, I refer to Mike Furmedge aka, Mordizer's tweet

“Can’t really emphasise enough how impressed I was with #bcmcuk, never have I been so educated while also being so well fed and watered :)”

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