BarCamp Manchester 3 at MadLab

A brief report on the above event written for MadLab.

A building in India made out of pallets, open source software in government, casual gaming and a 10 year old demo’ing Linux graphics software.

These were just three of the brilliant informal talks that were presented at BarCamp Manchester, held at the MadLab last Saturday (22 August).

“BCMan3″ was the third annual BarCamp in Manchester. It’s an “unconference” – where anyone is welcome to turn up and give a talk, lead a discussion or ask a question to the rest of the audience.

Check out the Flickr photos from the day

It sounds like a recipe for chaos, but it’s a huge credit to Andrew Disley, Dan Hardiker and everyone who was involved in putting it together, that the day ran so smoothly.

MadLab was buzzing with activity on all three floors and the diverse sessions meant that there was always something to go along and learn about. In fact, the great thing about BCMan3 is that sessions were constantly being added throughout the day as people with common interests found each other, hacked together new things and presented them for discussion later on.

There was even an international flavour with a Skype video walkthrough of the Jaaga project in Bangalore, a hackspace similar in intent to the MadLab. Also, some intrepid types banded together, armed with cameras and went on an outdoor exploration of some of the nearby gritty urban scenery.

The event concluded with the space being reset for an after party featuring Rock Band on the XBox 360 and a Puzzle Bobble tournament on the arcade. There may have even been a few hardcore geeks playing Star Trek Online over the MadLab wifi.

The atmosphere was incredibly refreshing and engaging — this wasn’t just a bland conference or another techie/geek event. Everyone was welcoming and encouraging and the mix of people made it truly possible for anything to be presented. There’s no better proof of this than a successful and popular session run by 10 year old Andi Southern who demo’d some incredible skills on Tux Paint. Overall, BarCamp Manchester 3 was a great event at which I met other creative-minded types and had the chance to share my knowledge and learn from them.

Special thanks again to Andrew Disley, Dan Hardiker and all the sponsors who made this happen – for free.