Saturday, October 3, 2009

BarCamp Omaha a Huge Success

This weekend, I attended BarCamp Omaha and was really impressed. There were about 200 people that showed up including a great contingent from Kansas City. The venue, Nomad Lounge, was a great perfect for the event.

A few things that stood out:
  • There was a cocktail party Friday night with complimentary beverages. That worked well to get people mixing and talking.
  • The sponsors provide a nice mix of juices, coffee, rolls and bagels for breakfast. Blimpie box lunches were provided for lunch. There weren't any lines for food which kept lunch stress free and left plenty of time to mingle and visit.
  • There were medium size spaces for presentations and plenty of small spaces for informal conversation. The Nomad Lounge is an old warehouse/loft type space in the Old Market area of Omaha. It really works great compared to the standard one big ballroom + little breakout room venues.
A couple of things that could have made it even better:
  • I attended an Open Spaces conference earlier this year and I really like that format for structuring Friday evening's gathering. With Open Spaces, everyone who wants to present has the microphone for 30 to 60 seconds to explain their topic, write it on a sticky and place it on a white board. The process took about an hour. After that, attendees have the rest of the evening to mingle and put tally marks on the topics they are interested in. Facilitators schedule the talks after everyone has had chance to vote. I think this process helps generate more ideas for talks. It also makes the schedule flow smoother on Saturday morning . I'd love to see BarCamp Omaha try this next year.
  • There really needs to be reliable internet available for all of the speakers. Every speaker I listened to adjust to having no internet available and it hampered the presentations.
Overall, I left BarCamp Omaha feeling like it was a first class event. All of the volunteers have my heartfelt thanks for putting on such a great conference!