On Oct. 16 Louis’ played host to the annual Saskatoon technology “meeting of the minds.” The event, known as BarCamp Saskatoon, is a yearly who’s who of people in Saskatoon technology.
Open to anyone interested, BarCamp Saskatoon included people from all corners of the city’s technology scene — developers, publishers, students and end users. The 147 registered participants included key decision makers from Saskatoon technology companies including Zu.com, Point 2 and Vecima Networks, among others.
Along with social and networking opportunities, the event featured a number of talks about everything from the future of TV to digital ecosystems. The “fUnemployment” presentation discussed how best to prepare for periods of lay-offs in the technology industry.
“Job security is rare these days, especially in the tech world,” said presenter Dave Kellow. “Always be prepared.”
Kim Schmidt, the other fUnemployment presenter, talked about finding jobs during her unemployment by using social media.
“Twitter helped me get freelance gigs that paid pretty well from friends, so luckily the Twitterverse is useful.”
In another chat, Dave Mosher talked about the future of independent video game developers while demonstrating the game Minecraft, which allows users to build constructions with textured cubes in a 3D world.
“The big developers have to be sequel focused because they have to worry about keeping shareholders happy; the small guys [get to] take risks these days.”
Mosher added that independent developers should continue to focus on the same things as Minecraft: giving users a fun and interactive platform to express themselves without constraint.
Interactive consultant Ginger Koolick ran BarCamp with the help of a small army of volunteers, following in the footsteps of a popular international movement.
BarCamps originated after Foo Camp, a tech-industry meeting by invite only. “A bunch of people who were not invited took offence to that and started an open conference movement,” Koolick explained, “and from there it just grew and grew and now there are BarCamps all over the world.”
BarCamp attendees are likely to be among the top one percentile of Internet users in the world, but they proved that they still know how to have fun in person. In an industry driven by electronics, instant global communication and the next big innovation, it was remarkably refreshing to see a group of powerful minds gathered in person to co-operate and share ideas on emerging trends in a comfortable atmosphere. Establishing a sense of community in a relatively small industry is an essential goal for BarCamp Saskatoon and its participants.
“It’s important to us to at least have an opportunity to all get together to get to know each other,” said Koolick, who emphasized the value of industry events to newcomers trying to get themselves out there. And in true Saskatchewan style, attendees gathered for a fun afternoon of collaboration and celebration which (as you may have guessed by now) was capped by a less constructive but equally anticipated event known only as BeerCamp.
image: Chris Enns