BarCamp? What's a BarCamp?
Last weekend we did something a bit different at the BBC. On Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th September we hosted the BBC's first ever BarCamp, in our northern home at MediaCityUK.
'What's a BarCamp?' I hear you cry. Well, it's been described as many things from an 'un-conference' to a 'catered conversation'. But really BarCamp is all about the ideas. People came to BBC North for this event buzzing with new ideas around technology, future media and a range of different interests including gaming, social media and... country music.
Right off the bat I felt that our new creative hub at MediaCityUK could provide BarCamp-ers with the perfect venue. So we opened up the spaces and brand new facilities in BBC Quay House to over 200 participants for a weekend of discussions, demos and interaction. 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. Highlights included: Should we Teach Computer Programming to Schoolchildren?; Tips to Build a 3D Scanner and even a debate on 'How to be Happy'.
Of course we paused the sessions for regular food and drink intake, plus the obligatory 7.10pm mass screening of Doctor Who on BBC One, with popcorn! As the evening drew on the games began. There were marathon X-box games, PowerPoint Karaoke and rounds of the parlour game 'Werewolf'. In the early hours people left to catch a few hours sleep and some - christened the 'magnificent overnight 7' - even pulled an all-nighter. Many returned for another round of innovative sessions on the Sunday.
At BBC North our aim is to find new ways of working and it's events like BarCamp that will really help the BBC become a more open and collaborative organisation. We were proud to host the BBC's first BarCamp and judging from the feedback, it's the kind of thing we should be doing more of.
Ian Forrester is a Senior Producer in BBC Research & Development, BBC North Lab
- More about the first BBC BarCamp from Ian on the BBC R&D blog.