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Barcamp Milwaukee 7 Attendance Postmortem

This is my way-late postmortem on the seventh annual Barcamp Milwaukee, held every year to celebrate geeks everywhere and bring people together to discuss and learn from one another about all the things they make and do.

There was only one ugly bit for me this year, during the late, late overnight hours, that kinda screwed up my Barcamp rhythm to the point where I knew I’d not be able to stick around for the full day on Sunday. It was in the form of a drunk attendee that apparently ran out of people to “talk to” overnight. He was wandering the building, and kept drifting back to an area where I was working with a young woman on a Linux problem she was trying solve. Now, I can’t speak for her, but my impression was that she didn’t feel particularly safe with this guy wandering the building, tripping all over himself, carrying beers around, blasting music in the commons downstairs, and so on. He told me the 3D printing guys all vanished–gee, I wonder why–so we were all he had left to talk to. Grrrrrreat it was not.

I’d love to see a reminder that people not be allowed to get drunk-stupid at future events. I had a beer or two earlier Saturday night, so I’m not being a prude about it, but excess… is usually excessive.

As for the sessions… I enjoyed the Artemis bridge simulation software time quite a lot. Hard to believe that’s all one developer’s work. There was a ton of 3D printing going on. Got into an OpenBSD session discussing it and its heritage, got an impression of the state of the apparently-barely-existent game development industry in Milwaukee (not great), learned a bit about cable hacking, sushi rolling, and spent some more time around people interested in the Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects/hardware. Even helped a few people with some hardware/software issues (mostly Linux-related) outside of sessions in the coworking space. The “Nerdy Derby” car racing was a real highlight and treat to watch this year, too, with tons of interesting entries. And finally, I got to knuckle down in a corner and get some work done of my own, as I do every year; it’s a tad anti-social, perhaps, but highly productive time for me!

If you have kids, you should try and bring them to the Sunday “Kids Camp” next year. I keep meaning to bring my own, but Barcamp always ends up being in a bad weekend for my kids (October’s a busy month for us in general). It’s a kids event still finding its legs, but it’s a nifty way to get your kids into making, presenting, learning, and having fun while doing it. I suspect it will break away from Barcamp and become its own event at some point, but for now, you’ll only find it at Barcamp Milwaukee.

Barcamp Milwaukee is free, every year, relying on sponsors for meals, t-shirts, etc. They really want you to come and help make it better simply by sharing what you know. Of course, if you’re able to sponsor, or know someone who can, that’s another awesome way to get involved.

So, summing up: I had a good time, despite bailing early on the second day (and missing Immy’s lunch cater, which saddened me greatly). Most sessions were informative. I never seem to come away feeling like I’ve learned a lot, but I do always come away feeling reinvigorated about learning more than I already know–a net-positive, I think, for the event itself and for me.

Special thanks to the Bucketworks crew for all they do, and to Pete Prodoehl in particular. I understand this may be his last time herding Barcamp Milwaukee’s many cats, and I can’t say I blame him.

Until next October, I guess.