Day Blog from BarCamp Vancouver 2009

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BarCamp is an unconference that focuses on social media, technology, and community-building in the online or mobile realm. I know that’s kind of a mouth full but it’s the first style of social media conference I ever attended and I credit BarCamp 2006 for being the launching point of my blogging “career”.

Today’s BarCamp is over at Discovery Parks on Great Northern Way and we’ve just done the session pitching scrum. This means that attendees all pitch their ideas for sessions and the schedule is then made on the fly. There are very techy people, open source advocates, fans of yarn, families, students, and professionals all mixed into this participatory audience.

BarCamp Vancouver 2009 - The Schedule

The schedule has now been re-created on the wiki. I’ll have updates throughout the day in a single combined “Day Blog” and Twitter updates tagged “bcv09” will be put at the bottom of this post.

Update: The first session I am attending is with Karen and she’s discussing Twitter in Transit — more so the use of Twitter and mobile applications by Translink. She gives a few examples, for instance the Twitter usage of Brad Ross from the TTC and @KenHardie from Translink.

“As transit riders we have certain expectations of the people who run our services,” says Karen. She wants to know if the audience would prefer personalized updates from Brad and Ken or if updates purely about bus schedules and SkyTrain alerts would be of more value.

The concept of having a Twitter account for each bus route in Metro Vancouver is also being discussed. Would this be useful? Would it be spam? Do we want Translink following us and knowing where we are? Do you want to follow a faceless bus route account?

“The TTC knows about its services but you know who else knows their services the best? The people using the TTC,” says Karen as she explains the concept behind “TTC Community” on Twitter which was crowd-sourcing updates. Greg, who is in the audience here, says that he’s seen people tweet about bad drivers on routes and he wonders if Translink pays attention to those. Karen says a daily-digest of these for Translink would be helpful.

From the crowd Bryce says: “Sending a complaint tweet or email isn’t the same as going to a town-hall meeting,” however he notes that monitoring social media channels does quantify the concern and the medium. Someone else just asked if there was an official tag for complaints, “like a #BusFail tag.” It’s also been suggested to seperate the platform from the service — a mobile short messaging service that may not necessarily be powered and relied upon through Twitter.

Update: Raul wrote a very thought-provoking post the other day and he’s created this session (“Free”lancing is not Free) to discuss it a bit more. “Just because you’re in this session [about no longer doing work for free] does not make you a bad person.”

The sentiment around the room is you need to be able to say “no” — even to non-profits. “It’s so easy to get caught up — it’s always more work than you think it’s going to be,” says Mark. He said for free or pro bono clients you still need to have a schedule, a contract, and an on-paper record of the value of the work being donated. Structure is still required for free clients.

Someone also brought up the fact that there is no “social media consultant” association that can regulate, promote, and assist its members.

If someone wants you to do work and cannot pay but they present it as a great “opportunity for exposure” then either say yes (and devalue your work), no (and stand your ground on your value) or explore other options. These options would be in-kind exposure, listing as a media sponsor, or something that will benefit both parties. Although getting a banner on a website is not the same as a paycheck, which equals dinner that night.

The consensus is that putting something in writing goes a very long way. Even with your friends, an invoice of zero dollars means a lot at any rate, said Steve. “We should all have at our disposal a form of proposal,” adds Mark. He also encourages freelancers to get endorsements. He says – ask them look, can you put something on your letterhead and talk about how great this campaign was – then put that in your portfolio. Get proof and endorsements for the value of your work, all kinds of work.

Twitter updates tagged #bcv09

Update: I attended a few more sessions at BarCamp including one about photography with Scott and John. They’re also organizing a photowalk at the Lions Gate bridge on Sunday afternoon (@3:30pm).

The event this year was very well attended and each session had fantastic discussions. There weren’t any PowerPoint slides and for that many were thankful. This opened up each talk so that each leader could setup the topic and then let the conversations and ideas flow. Kudos to the organizers as the venue at Discover Parks was great, and I was very happy to see snacks, lunch, and coffee served all day.

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