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.