Barcamp Bangalore 4 concluded last week. It was easily my best event yet, and appears to have gone down well with the crowd too, given the level of engagement we’re seeing both before and after.
Scheduling is top priority on the agenda for improvements for BCB5. Several participants came to BCB4 with high expectations for the sessions they’d be partaking in, fueled no doubt by pre-event online discussions. At the event however, it turned out a lot of it was running in parallel, or worse, was off the charts because there was no clear place to list it.
There are several ways in which scheduling could be improved. Here is one such proposal. Because this proposal runs counter to the spontaneous order of a Barcamp, I will not call this a proposal for scheduling in Barcamp. Consider this a proposal for an entirely different event.
The proposed event will be more like a conference than an unconference, but with a significant community element. There will be a single track at this event, with all schedules pre-defined. The event will run over a regular two day weekend. If you want to speak, the audience must vote for you. Voting is done in the months/weeks preceding the event. Speakers may campaign for votes, but campaigning may only be in the form of explaining their presentation. Merchandising (giveaways, etc) will not be allowed.
In effect, to get to speak, you must first deliver the pitch online with sufficient effectiveness so as to outshine the contenders. It is expected that this process of honing the pitch will ensure high quality during the actual event, and further, because many in the audience will already be familiar with the material, will lead to the session being more discussion of material-oriented than presentation-oriented.
Why have an offline event at all then, if the important bits are online? Because the offline audience will likely be significantly different from the online audience (and also likely not having the bandwidth to engage and vote online), and because the event in real life will form an anchor around which to organise things.
An earlier draft of this idea was sent to the Barcamp community mailing list. You may want to follow up there.