Thursday, March 26, 2009

SXSW: Barcamp 4

I didn't get to see much of Barcamp. Because Steve had classes that weekend, I stayed home with Erika most of Saturday. I got to BarCamp close to 5 pm. Since it started at 9 am, I missed most presentations. The few remaining ones that were still going on were by various companies (startups, probably) demonstrating their products. Most of them were specialized websites (e.g. a travel website) with a social networking element. None of them really intrigued me, but maybe I was too tired to pay full attention. I was more fascinated by tattoo artists plying their trade right there at BarCamp. They've set up a little shop in a corner of the room, and were doing brisk business. They tattooed 3 clients in about half an hour (and that was just while I watched). One guy got a barcode on the back of his neck. Must have been a pun on BarCamp? Not that anyone would recognize it in the outside world. The "victims" seemed fairly relaxed -- none of those people were screaming or writhing in pain, or even gritting their teeth. It made me even wonder if I should spontaneously get a tattoo as well. But no, I'm really not that spontaneous. :-)

Aside from product demos, there was a presentation on "death of advertising". But as my experience shows, a talk or an article touting the death of advertising is really just about new ways to advertise, and this one was no different. I don't know if the whole BarCamp was like that, but product demos and conversations about marketing are not why I would go to this event. Learning about other companies' products is not the kind of techie learning that would bring me to a BarCamp. But really, I can't judge it, having caught only the tail end of it. Still there were a few people around -- both old acquaintances and new ones -- to chat about our Twitter strategies and what not. :-)

I really liked the "bar" in which BarCamp took place -- the former Paradox night club, which is currently vacant. Our devoted organizers set it up with plenty of folding chairs and tables to put laptops on. I had no trouble finding an extension cord to plug my laptop into -- but maybe only because it was half empty at the moment? It turns out a nightclub can work very well as a conference room. All its interior details -- balconies, stages, little side lounges -- separate the room into many cozy spaces for groups to hold conversations. And we had sponsors that provided free (though mediocre) fish burritos for lunch, and munchies with a curious name "dillodog" for dinner. The name lead to a goodly number of puns. But really it was just a hotdog with bacon crumbles... I think. That's as far as I could tell in the dark. :-)

Pictures from BarCamp and other SXSWi events are in my photo gallery.

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