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Blogcamp Pune 2, Unconferences etc…

Returned from Blogcamp Pune 2 around few hours back.. it was a nice drive to Pune.. the weather was pretty good.. loved the rain.. the clouds covering mountains.. Lonavala looked like heaven, felt like being there..

Oh, I was supposed to talk on Blogcamp Pune 2, OK OK.. I am back on track.. Vada Pav was pretty good at SICSR – Symbiosis (the venue), but I missed the Poha as Annkur had recommended..  🙁 Will try it definitely next time..  I loved the wind blowing on the 7th floor.. and the few babes roaming around in the girls hostel opposite of the venue.. and Yeah.. I enjoyed couple of sessions too.. The session by Ankesh and Annkur were pretty interesting.. but apart from that nothing impressed me much.. But the purpose of the post is not about criticizing Blogcamp Pune 2 but it is my bit improve the whole thing..

Following are the loopholes I found..

  1. No proper management, Yeah, there were couple of guys at the registration desk but that’s it.. the white board did not have any session details for the first couple of hours (the unconference started at 10 AM)
  2. The intro session ate up good amount of time..
  3. No proper sync between the 2 rooms, I think most of the people were sitting in a single room and there was no proper tracking of the activities in the other room.
  4. A person hijacking the sessions (Known as Thakkar from what I understand).. I know I know, everyone loved it.. he was good at what he was doing in fact.. but knowingly or unknowingly, he hijacked and pulled up all the people to listen to his comedy skills. I don’t think it was the right thing.. Come on guys it’s Blogcamp.. not any entertainment show.. there were people in the other room trying to give out the sessions.. but there was no one in the rooms, everyone was enjoying his jokes..

    Those guys might have spent hours of time to make presentation, prepare for the session and their hard work goes in vain.. The whole traffic gets attracted to something which could have been done after all the sessions were over too..I definitely did not attend Blogcamp to waste my time in the funny show.. and I am sure, others too did not come for the funny show..

So, how do we improve the whole thing? I would suggest, we should take some lessons from Blogcamp Chennai.. (the first one), it was very well organized, everything perfectly set and managed..

So, here are the pointers..

  1. Cut down the intro session or just take it off. I personally don’t think it will be of any use getting 100 odd people introduce themselves one by one.. this kind of exercise just takes lot of time and yields nothing.. I think the same kind of problem we had faced in earlier blog camp Pune too..
  2. Be sure to have a list of the sessions before everything starts.. Yea, I know it’s unconference and all.. but having a list of sessions is pretty much convenient for the visitors (Obviously, things can be added / taken off from it over the time)
  3. Categorize the sessions in 2 types.. say, Advanced and Newbies, or whatever categorization you feel like. Or simply, divide the sessions timings based on the theme.. I am saying this because, in the 2nd half, most of the sessions were boring.. they were boring for me but it’s highly possible that certain group of people will look forward to those kind of sessions.. frankly speaking, from what I saw, most of the people were either yawning or doing some other stuff, so this might give wrong signals to the person who is taking the session.. so, I feel it’s better to categorize so only target audience will attend the specific sessions..
  4. Time is money.. we have to make sure that the sessions start and end at the specified time..
  5. And yeah, most important, don’t allow anyone to hijack the sessions.. Yeah, I know it’s an unconference but think from the point of view of the guy who is going to take the session, what will be his state of mind (seeing no people around), what about his hard work? Still funny sessions more important?
  6. Accept sponsorships, I know few people will be against it.. accept the money from the sponsors but don’t allow them to spam around in the sessions.. use the money in getting better conference hall, get some free food, snacks, goodies etc… it helps to make the whole environment much better..

I think if things are slightly more managed, everything will go pretty much smoothly..

I hope we don’t repeat these kind of mistakes again in the 3rd Blogcamp Pune and I am sure there will be lot of improvement in it..

And finally.. thanks to Tarun and other guys for organizing the Blogcamp Pune, if you feel, I can be of any help in organizing the Blogcamp, do let me know, I will be more than happy to join in 🙂

10 Comments

  1. I have attended many sessions of Thakkar. And i would say he just wants to convey people to make their sessions interesting. from the tweets i read of yours i could guess not many people could do it.

    And well did you get up and ask him to shut up and move to other room? or did you listen to Thakkar’s SESSION.

    Blogcamp is not about just giving sessions on HOW TO MAKE THE EFFING MONEY. Its about sharing experiences..

  2. Yea, that’s what I said, he was good at whatever he was doing.. no doubts in that but the time wasn’t right.. the people gathered in the lobby and the things started.. no one was left in the room…

    About me asking him to shut up, I don’t think I would ever do that to anyone, people were enjoying it and that’s about it.. but what my point is, it was not the right time or place for the funny stuff.. specially, non tech related or say non blog related..

    I left the place as the funny things started.. waited for 5 odd minutes but everyone seem to be glued to the funny session and I found it to be wasting my time, so I just left..

    About blogcamp about making money… absolutely it’s not about making money.. the session was about Marathi translation or something, which I don’t think was about making money..

    Even I was planning to take a session, made some quick notes but after seeing funny things, I didn’t feel like..

  3. Hello Deep!

    Nice to hear an honest feedback. The fun and humour did get the talk started.. but it did go into photoblogging, podcasting and blogging experiences in general, you’d have seen it if you’d stuck around.

    I know I have the potential to hijack sessions, that’s why I did not take up any slot in morning.. Its just that there were so many people outside the rooms in the later half of the day, that engaging them seemed like a good option.

    Feel free to announce that your session is starting, or point to me in a general wave, and I’ll cut it short 🙂 Usually in Bombay camps, we Write it on a A4 sheet in big words, and show it to the speaker. Its polite and unobtrusive.

    If you do not like interrupting people (I know I don’t :)), point it out to any un-organizer that someone is eating up on your slot, and they’ll do the time keeping thing. I’ve done time-keeping at B’bay BarCamps and I assure you it works.

    People may give a walkout on the slot to follow up with a speaker offline, but that’s always a catch. The idea then is to make an interesting intro earlier in the morning, and have a nice title, and generate buzz about your session using friends, that will assure an audience.

    And I know I go on and on when not interrupted, so do interrupt. If you spent so much time making the presentation, spend sometime fighting for it 🙂

    See you next time 🙂

    best,
    -Thakkar

  4. Hey,

    Good to see your reply here, the best part I liked is, you did not take it in a wrong manner 🙂

    No, I am not talking about my session, I saw few sessions lined up out there, when you started, the session on Marathi translation / spellcheck or something was going on and after that couple of more sessions lined up, so I was wondering what would be the effect on them if they don’t see enough people around..

    About my session, actually, I am a last minute guy haha, I made some notes and then though it won’t be a good idea to have a session now, so skipped the idea.. may be in Mumbai I will have one in advance 🙂

    Will catch up for sure at Mumbai blogcamp..

    And yea, please don’t take anything personally, it was just a feedback.. no personal war..

    Regards,
    Deep

  5. @Deep You should’ve hung around … considering the way things were going, for me there were only 3 redeeming factors in the entire trip, the going with you guys, coming with Kunal and co. & Thakkar’s session. the other sessions were the same old how to make money which to be honest both of us got bored off, having heard a couple of Thakkarisms (experiences where technology collided with society) before, the (Bombay) crowd urged Thakkar to take a session to kill the boredom that was happening otherwise, no offense to the guys who were talking (if they read this).

    Considering there was no room available & a huge crowd was already outside (prolly ‘coz of the boredom being inflicted inside), it started there then when the session in 707 concluded everyone from there came out, correct me if I’m wrong the guy who was supposed to take the next session was also listening to Thakkar (not out of compulsion but out of choice, or so it seemed.)

    I’ll be brutally honest here, the sessions taken were either make money or we’re somewhat like a NGO which is definitely what I don’t want to listen to when I’m looking for some serious gyaan on blogging.

    Our discussion in the car about Drupal, WordPress, hosting, computing etc. was much more valuable than the crap that was being spoken at the camp, so Thakkar held fort making sure that waking up at 430 in the morning wasn’t all that waste, a good laugh can make you forget the lack of sleep.

    Peace 🙂

  6. As someone who’s been a barcamp unorganizer before, it pains me to see that you did not enjoy your time at Blogcamp Pune (an event I had to skip unfortunately because of other commitments). Far too often, people do get very bored at such events- the immense variety of topics discussed usually ensures that there are people who find certain talks outside their areas of interest. The offline sessions and discussions thus help in keeping these people engaged and making it worth their while to have come. A barcamp veteran, Thakkar is one of the best- not only in the sessions he takes, but also in making sure that people have an enjoyable time throughout the event. Goodness knows how many camps he’s kept alive- the Bombay ones he most certainly has.

    If I were in your place, I’d just have asked an unorganizer to inform people that my session was about to begin if there hadn’t been too many people in the room. A small unobtrusive gesture to Thakkar would have made him wrap up his talk very quickly indeed. I can vouch for this since, as I said before, I have been a barcamp unorganizer- and have been in this position. He’s very considerate of others’ time- regardless of what the session is about.

    I do hope you take your session at the next barcamp/blogcamp. And do feel free to express your opinions/wishes- at least to an unorganizer. The very essence of a barcamp is in its openness 🙂

  7. Hey Deep,

    Just thought I’d let you know this. Someone (not Thakkar himself) had put up his session at a 11am (the first) slot. He kept saying let everyone finish and then I’ll talk. By the time I got to the white board the slots in both rooms were filled up till about 2pm.

    I didn’t want to do an afternoon slot, just in case there was a call from the kids and they needed me back. I didn’t even give Thakkar this explanation. He erased his name off and asked me to write mine. And I shamelessly let him do it.

    So, he didn’t go looking to hog the sessions, people know him and they wanted to hear him speak. I know I love hearing him speak. He weaves in the blogging elements in his stories so subtly that they might go unnoticed.

    Also, I did see the Marathi session on, people who were interested were in there – they were certainly fewer in number than the crowd interested in Thakkar speaking.

    I think you should have put up your session, I’d have certainly attended. I was bored of the money-making sessions too. They all say the same thing and hardly ever give details or specifics. And this is coming from a person who desperately needs it for her blog.

    Anyway, love and peace.

  8. Thanks guys for the replies.. Just for the clarification again..

    This post is not against a person, it can never be.. it just reflect my thinking towards the things..

    @meetu – Marathi session… Yes, that’s what my point is.. there were people attending who were interested but if the funny session wasnt around, they would have got more people to listen.. now, that’s a different story that, there would have been few people walking off in the middle of the session.. but I am sure, there would have been few, who would sit and understand what that guy is trying to explain..

  9. Pingback: Pune Blog Camp 2: Reflections « An Unquiet Mind

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