Here's what I presented this afternoon at BarcampSG 3.
My session started with 5 people. Then more streamed in. In the end, there were maybe 25 to 30 (wish I'd taken a picture at the end).
I polled the audience during my talk. About a third of those present played some musical instruments. Only three (three!) had some intention to record their music onto their computers. Two-thirds were Mac users but maybe one-sixth had actually explored GarageBand on their Mac (gasp!)
Maybe after today, more will start recording their music in GarageBand and publish their music online.
When I ended my 20 minute talk, I asked them "This is my first Barcamp. So what happens after the talk ends? 'Cos you all seem to be just waiting for something."
That got some laughs. And this guy in front said, "If we're bored, we'll walk away. We're still here."
Something like that. :)
Here are the related barcampsg3 Tweets, Slideshare presentations, and Flickr tags.
HYBRID BARCAMP STYLE
BarcampSG was an eye-opener for me.
The Singapore barcamp adopts a hybrid format, where some of the talks are pre-scheduled, leaving the rest up for voting on the actual day. At most other barcamps, all talks are determined only the day itself and through public votes.
Preetam (one of organiser) tells me this was sort of an "easing in" towards a full voting format. However, I think a hybrid model may work just as well and perhaps something uniquely Singaporean.
MINDSET SHIFT REQUIRED
The average age of attendees seem to be around late 20s to early 30s. I'm kinda considered the "older crowd" I think, though I spotted maybe one or two blokes a lot older than me.
Speaking as an "oldie" who's more used to the traditional organised/ scheduled conferences, the barcamp 'Unconference' format was a refreshing change. But it can daunting. The main reason, I feel, is in how Barcamp presentations are "selected".
In a traditional conference, speakers get endorsed by a select group of panelists. Only successful abstracts are selected and participants won't know who and what have been rejected.
At a Barcamp, any one who wish to speak can submit their topic and have others vote for it. This also means if your topic isn't popular, it's publicly known. To an 'Oldie', I'd imagine this requires a mindset shift. And it takes guts to submit a topic.
This is an example of a topic put up for voting:
If the topic receives enough votes (I think it's benchmarked against other topics) then it'll go onto the official programme schedule (updated real-time using whiteboard markers, heh):
The advantage of this Barcamp format is that the participants have a say in the speakers they want to hear.
The disadvantage is that participants tend to vote on the basis of the title only, 'cos speakers don't circulate abstracts. There's no guarantee that the content would match the 'interesting-ness' factor in the title.
In truth, I'd be pretty hesitant to plonk my topic on the board for people to vote. But as I said, it requires a mindset shift.
The public voting format acts like a messy but effective self-selecting and crowd-filtered system. Only the very passionate, and who are likely to be experts in what they want to talk about, would want to put themselves on the line. And the participants play a part in the success of the event.
I've to qualify that I'm a pre-scheduled speaker. If I haven't experienced Barcamp, I wouldn't have turned up even if I was passionate and knowledgeable.
For one, I'm the kind of guy who tend to have too many self-doubts. And yes, my ego is easily bruised.
But having experienced this Barcamp, I have a better sense of the atmosphere and expectations of attendees. Most people are pretty nice (I've not read any Tweet about sucky presentations, heh).
So I feel a hybrid Barcamp model might be more feasible for Singapore, especially ease in Oldies like me. Also, I think it'll be a good balance to have the speakers ranging from the very passionate-but-relatively-inexperienced to the experienced-but-Oldie-mindsets. Or the passionate-but-young-and-hesitant.
Oh, another thing I like about Barcamp is that I learned a lot just from conversations that occurred in the hallways.
TOPICS AS CATALYSTS FOR CONVERSATIONS
After my presentation, people came up and asked questions. And I learned from them in the process. Which created yet another shift in my mind, from the speaker's viewpoint.
Meaning, you don't really need to be Top Of Your Field to be a speaker. I realise now a Barcamp speaker is a Participant, first and last.
In a traditional conference format, speakers are usually expert trainers or lecturers. They are expected to deliver information.
At Barcamps, the speaker acts as a catalyst for conversations.
The talk is just one part, rather than the end, of the entire Barcamp learning experience.
Mindset shift indeed.
[update: Here's Nazrul's post. He came all the way from Malaysia to attend BarcampSG. Plus he's a real music producer too. Cool]