My Amazing Weekend Part 2: Barcamp DC2

Content

October 20, 2008

First, before I get going let me say that Barcamp has nothing to do with a bar or drinking and it is not done in tents either. Barcamp is a play on the programming term foobar which is a place holder word to use when mapping out, diagramming, or explaining coding concepts. There is a Foo Camp out there in the world so I'm guessing someone dubbed it Barcamp as a quip retort, I overheard someone say also that Bar stood for Bay Area Rejects representing some people who were not invited to Foo Camp, but who knows. What I do know is that, again, it is not about drinking alcohol or even held at a bar.

So what is Barcamp already?

It is an web unconference. Still confused? It is a thought that web designers and developers all have something important to share that can benefit each of us. So you show up, with no set agenda, people sign up to speak about what they have to share and the conference begins. That's about it.

My recap

Barcamp was amazing. If you want to meet web people things like this are the things to go to; I came home with about 50 business cards in my pocket from people I chatted with (and I met many more than that). Moreover for myself I'm displaying the sessions that I attended in the table below:

Session Session Title Presenter(s)
1 Social Media's Influence on Politics
2 Design for the Non-designers Samantha Warren
3 Web Education Me
4 Is your website accessible? JFCiii
5 Juggling and Regular Expression unknown
6 SQL Basics and SQL Injection Attacks Greg Lavelle
7 Sharing Ideas corbet3000

I definitely wanted to hear Samantha Warren speak as I missed her Refresh Bmore Typography presentation. It was just as she mentioned a very strong intro to design concepts but it was still fascinating to hear it. She offered rich examples to support each element of art and principle of design and discussed each.

My web education chat was a lot of fun and focused on the very large gap between what's needed in web industry and whats being taught in secondary and higher ed institutions. There were a few educators in the audience including Samantha Warren who teaches a design course at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University DC Campus and Martin Ringlein who teaches a design course at MICA in Baltimore. It was intriguing to hear their thoughts on whats being taught and where it should be, others offered some great insight. If you are interested more about this topic see later blog posts or read reactions here or here.

Is your website accessible? No really, is it? Chat with accessibility guru John F Croston III proves that chances are you've forgotten something important. Some highlights from his presentation were access keys either over used or not at all. A good point I learned about access keys is to set tab order in groups of ten, that way if you forget an input field or need to reorder you don't have to change every tab order. Other items that are important that we forget when sighted are returning the user to the main content section on your results page, saving the screen reading user from listening to the header and nav all over again. Worth while and definitely something everyone could use a brush up on.

I wasn't sure if Juggling was for real or not so I had to give it a chance, and it was for real.

SQL basics was a really good speech for my students to hear so I spoke with the presenter and asked if he would be willing to speak to my students. It was nothing dramatic and mostly examples so it would lend itself nicely to a presentation to high school students. He showed the very simple ways to perform as SQL injection attack.

During the last session people started drifting off and it was small but it was interesting. The group was discussing idea sharing. For example, someone has a great idea for a web app but no time to execute it, somehow they could open that idea up to the DC community for others to execute, mold, and shape the idea with no or minimal obligation to the original idea owner. Some very progressive stuff.

My take away

Networking is everything. You can do the best you can to get the word out to people by sitting behind your computer in your office for ever, but it will never reflect the amount of influence you will have when your standing in front of people talking. It was so much fun to spend a day with other people who are extremely passionate about everything web. It's not something I get to do so often.

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Jeff Brown
Montgomery County Public Schools
25921 Ridge Road
Damascus , MD , 20872 USA
(301) 253-7062