Back from great BarCamp
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 5:38:07 PM
Now I am in Spain for a couple of very formal events and a tour of universities, before a two-week speaking tour of Brazil. Meanwhile, the work piles up...
BarCamp Kazakhstan was excellent. The venue was good (thanks Kimep), the schedule was good (much as I hate doing it, I think 10am Sunday, what a friend called the "hangover slot", is a good time for sponsor's talks. They shouldn't be interrupting the real essence of BarCamp if they have to take place), the presentations and discussion and the whole vibe was great. (The only sour note was another Kyrgyz laptop being stolen Is someone trying to spy on Kyrgyz BarCampers, or just a not-very-nice person?).
After the saga of getting there (thanks to Artmachine.Kz for the cool cartoon in this page - please contact them for more stuff if you like it) I was for once grateful for the sponsorship of Red Bull. (I don't normally like the stuff, but it does have more kick than a few cups of tea). Although I missed the Main Sponsor's presentation I did attend a number of talks, including running a session myself and organising another (which people decided would be better in Russian, so I didn't follow it very well). And for the second time I understood the gist of some presentations in Russian - for the first time including some that didn't have slides.
Ilya and I were taken up to look at Medeu - brilliant views and a ski resort at 3000m. Another reason to head back to Kazakhstan with more time Thanks to the guys from Uzbekistan who cooked Plov on Saturday night (who really did the cooking? I wasn't in the kitchen so I never knew for sure), and for the Kumiss, and company.
A slightly updated version of the song I made up that evening (if you can play a little bit of guitar, the chord progression I used is just C-G-D. If you can play more, you could make a better tune...) - for Yelena, who wasn't there at its first (and quite possibly only ever ) performance...
The Uzbeks and Russians were there
And the Azeris came from Baku
And from Tajikistan and Ukraine
They came, and Belarussia too.
Springtime in Almaty
And if it didn't all go to plan
It couldn't have been any better
And the great big Kyrgyz bus trip
That brought a whole crowd from Bishkek
But when I flew in from Madrid,
Almay turned me back
Istanbul - Almaty
Almaty to Istanbul
then Istanbul Almaty again
I was travelling like a fool
But if we didn't thank the people
Who made the whole thing work
If we forgot the Kazakh crew
We'd be a bunch of jerks
So thanks to all the people
gathered there that night
(and when I spoke at 10am on sunday
you were all there! Alright!)
And I really am grateful to the crowd that dragged me out to the procession that was part of the Easter mass - it was well worth seeing, and I enjoyed the walk around the city. And special thanks to Yuri for finally figuring out how we could get home - a lot of going backwards and forwards, and a few phone calls meant that it was very late by the time I made it to bed, tired, but happy with the first day.
The second day was rough at first. Actually almost none of us were there by 10am, but by 10.15 the room was filling up, and there were a lot of people who actually attended my update on what Opera is doing. I guess it is more interesting information for the audience than for me (after all, nobody had to attend) - I prefer the sessions during the first day, and am always sorry I can't attend more of them. Special mentions to Maksim who claimed he would try to make a widget for the Betavine priza, and to Nurali who actually made a widget during the presentation (after I handed out the widget how-to cards half-way through).
The plenary discussion sessions followed - language on the internet which I attended (it was one of the places I understood some stuff people were saying evenin Russian with no slides) and then Internet regulation (I didn't attend this. I decided it would really be too hard for me, but it was apparently also interesting and lively).
The afternoon was the "ideas market" - a development of the BarCamp Idol from Riga, where about 20 people got to pitch their startup ideas in a competition. This time the prizes were really worthwhile - including hosting services from Kazakh Telecom (the thing many people needed most), Business Management courses from Moscow Business School, devices from Navtime, and apples and fame and glory for the jury's overall winners. And the good thing was taht while I might have chosen differently, I couldn't fault the jury for being "wrong", and I was impressed at the overall level of quality - there were a lot of good ideas being put into action effectively.
I even managed not to be drowned in vodka at the closing party (despite the best efforts of a few people), not to make too much of a fool of myself while dancing, although both those achievements were helped, and my enjoyment of the whole thing hindered a bit, by having to leave and go to the airport.
Special thanks to Yelena, Erjan, Inessa, Ilya, Bektour, Nurali, Artmachine.kz, and more thanks to many many people who helped turn such a miserable start of a trip into such a fantastic weekend.
As Tim Berners-Lee says to his coworkers, KUTGW!