50 or so geeks (and their laptops) spent the weekend at Welshmans Reef Vineyard
in Newstead, about 140km from Melbourne. It was the first StixCamp
, an informal conference (unconference), similar to BarCamp
, but located out in the sticks, and thus involved tents. I'd heard good things about BarCamps from friends in London, and had been to GameCamp
in London, which worked on similar principles, so I had some idea what to expect.
People wrote on post-it notes what they wanted to talk about, and these were arranged into available slots to form the schedule
. I decided a few minutes before the talks started that I wanted to discuss pervasive games with people, as I was interested to hear about what kind of pervasive games, alternate reality games, etc, people had played in Melbourne. I had not prepared a talk, and was quite nervous, particularly when I realised most people did not know what pervasive games or ARGs were, but people were friendly and interested, and hey, at least I tried. :)
Other people's talks were much more planned and I found the talks I went to interesting:
Gian Sampson-Wild talked about accessibility and usability standards, and I was intrigued to learn that you can get fined in Australia if your website does not conform to accessibility guidelines.Josh Stewart
gave a talk on Your Toaster wants Twitter too
and Andy Gelme
gave a talk on Device Sensor Networks
, and both demonstrated cool electronics devices. I've seen a few similar talks before and they always inspire me and make me think I should buy an Arduino, but then I realise I don't have any ideas as to what I'd actually use one for.Paul Fenwick
gave a talk about Hacking other people's brains
, which was quite amusing, and tried to explain things such as how to understand other people even when there are no status bars, like there are in The Sims.
James Vautin explained how to use Amazon Mechanical Turk - Artificial Artificial Intelligence
. Amazon Mechanical Turk
allows you to pay people small amounts of money to do tasks for you. As an example, during the talk, James paid people to join the IRC channel we were on. One interesting use of Mechanical Turk that was mentioned is Feedback Army
, which allows you to get rapid feedback on the usability of your website.
Ron Snep gave a tour of the winery, where we got to see (and taste) the grapes at various stages, the machinery used, and many barrels of wine.Dave Hall
explained the difficulties of getting Broadband in the bush
After the main sessions of talks had ended, lightning talks began, which were talks that lasted just for 5 minutes. I particularly remember the talks by Philip about taming wire, and Jackson talking about being awesome.
In between the talks, much food was consumed, some alcohol also, and various conversations were had. I do not recall any dancing, but I do remember someone giving a late night lightning talk on each key on their keyring, the weather being so windy that I had to try to stop my tent from blowing away, watching some of a strangely dubbed version of Star Wars, and in general, meeting some excellent people, who I look forward to meeting again. I hope I will still be in Melbourne for the next BarCamp, which will take place in September.