Two days later, I’m just now getting my life back to normal after BarCampMilwaukee. It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun, I learned a lot, and I think the session I led went relatively well. I posted my slideshow on Make Data Make Sense, mostly as a backup in case my laptop melted on the way to Milwaukee. I’ve never found slideshows very interesting without accompanying soundtracks or video, but I’ll leave it up there for future reference.

You can see photos of BarCampMilwaukee on Flickr or videos of BarCampMilwaukee on blip.tv. Just one video so far, from Pete Prodoehl. I have an almost frightening amount in common with Pete, which became clear early on as we both wore the same t-shirt on Saturday. The picture is me talking to Jordan Arentsen after his Ruby on Rails session, which was interesting, but I can’t say I was persuaded to start using Rails right now.

What I was persuaded to start using is Flash 9. I learned a lot about Flash 9 in an impromptu session led by Dustin DuPree, seen on Flickr just before giving his introduction, and just after I gave my own introduction, which apparently failed. (I thought I was all clever to note that the mic wasn’t working, only to discover I was the only person in the room who didn’t realize the mic was only for the video camera.) Not only is Flash 9 available as a free and unrestricted beta, but the new coding syntax is almost indistinguishable from Java, is tied into the open source Eclipse IDE, can be styled with a slight variant of CSS, and Flex interfaces look about as simple as XCode's drag and drop Interface Builder. I left the session feeling like I had to learn Flash 9, if only to understand what exactly I’m working against when I use open web standards.

I also enjoyed learning a bit about Drupal from Blake Hall, learning about robots from a guy whose name I’ve forgotten and can’t find on the wiki, learning about logo design from Mike Rohde, and learning about cell phones from an anonymous camper. But I think I enjoyed the less lecture-style sessions the most (despite my own being rather lecture-style).

I really enjoyed learning Werewolf from Tegan Dowling. It was also interesting talking about refuseniks with a group of tech heads who were surprisingly even less optimistic about the likely effects of technology on society than I am. And everything else was great too. I didn’t really go to any sessions that weren’t interesting. But I enjoyed the mash pit the most of all.

It was great to sit down with a group of geeks and flesh out a project without constraints like a business plan or any need to explain technical concepts or much of anything really. Except time. We didn’t actually get anything finished, but we got to a rough proof-of-concept (currently available at tenbytenbytime.org) by 3am (which made the 7am cell phone lessons very exciting). It was basically a few hours of what I dreamed my life as a web developer would be like back during the (first) bubble.

So BarCamp was generally fantastic, and I hope I will be able to attend another BarCamp within the next year. I don’t see any currenct planned very near where I live now, nor where I’m likely to live in the near future, so I might need to work on starting a new BarCamp. Meanwhile, next weekend Jessica and I are going to a wedding, and then two weeks after that I’m probably going to a re-wedding, so it will be a while before I really settle back into normal life, i.e. a weekend at home.

 

My plan for BarCamp was to follow up the session on microformats by showing something specific and cool you can do with microformats in the area of geohacking and online mapping. Specifically, you can combine Technorati's microformat search for finding hCard data, my new Auto Geo proxy for geocoding addressed hCards, Brian Suda's geo-to-KML service for creating KML documents from geocoded data, and Google Maps, for displaying the data in a nify map.

The whole thing was going to be pretty cool. You could search for "Bob" and get a map of people named Bob, and all Bob has to do is basically wrap his address in class="adr". That’s much easier than making your own Google Map, which is about as easy as it can be, or looking up your latitude and longitude, which is still needlessly cumbersome.

And I’m still working on making this whole process run a little more smoothly for Bob and his once and future friends who want to find him on a map. But I will no longer be talking about this in any depth at BarCampMilwaukee. The planned leader of the microformats session can no longer make it, which left me with a sort of microformats 201 session missing a microformats 101 session. So I’m now leading the microformats session.

That will be easy because I could explain microformats in my sleep, and there seems to be more interest in the general concept of microformats than the geo stuff. But I am a little disappointed I don’t get to demonstrate and explain something I find more interesting. For now, I’ll settle for showing you where I live on a map created by running a page with my street address through three different web services. That’s actually several houses down from where I live, but you get the idea.

 

I decided today to attend BarCampMilwaukee at the end of this month. Because BarCamp requires participation, and because I’m interested, I’ll be doing a session on "Online Maps, Mapping Tools & Geohacking." I had a project in mind that loosely falls under this title, which someone else had proposed as a session topic, so now I just need to make it and talk about it in the next couple weeks.

I’ve never attended, much less presented at, a technical conference before. I think BarCamp will be a good place to start. I have presented at and attended other conferences before on topics such as linguistics, gay rights, and general academic research, and I’ve read a lot about BarCamp and other tech conferences, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what I’m getting into.

I seem to have done something recently that landed me on a to-be-invited-to-conferences list. I’ve been working online for ten years and hadn’t been invited to a single tech conference until a couple weeks ago when I was personally invited to a more prestigious and expensive conference. Among other problems, the conference speakers list didn’t include a single woman (though I was assured it was not for lack of trying), which didn’t sound very interesting to me.

But then this morning Pete Prodoehl sent me a personal invitation to BarCampMilwaukee. I looked at it and it seemed interesting, it’s free, and it’s not too far away, so I’m going. I’ll flesh out my session in more detail after I’ve written the code on which it will be based, which hopefully won’t take long. But really with a word like "geohacking" in the title, how could it not be interesting?