WhereCampEU 2010 – an organisers tale

12th and 13th of March saw around 180 Geo Enthusiasts, Developers, Geeks, Hobbyists etc attend the first ever edition of WhereCampEU. I have debated not doing this post because many other have done WhereCampEU posts. A couple of the good one’s are listed here

After reading them all I felt, as one of the organisers, I wanted to talk about the organising experience. What it took to put this event together.

Let’s first take a look at what a Where Camp is about. It is based on a model made popular by BarCamps, which is at BarCamp 8 here in London. This means that it’s NOT a conference, rather a un-conference which is free to attend and during which anyone can speak or present or run a session or many. The schedule is left blank and on each day of the conference any of the attendees can announce their talk by putting it on The Wall.

Yup you guessed it. The largest part of organising a conference is taken care of by your attendees themselves. What’s left you ask? Here is a small list

  • Venue
  • Date
  • Sponsors
  • Advertising/Marketing the event
  • Attracting the audience
  • Sponsors

I list sponsors twice in the above list because without them events like this one are NOT possible. Remember that this event is run as a FREE event (as in ZERO DOLLARS entrance, although travel and accommodation is their own). I learned, very quickly during the early organisation meetings, that a large part of the initial effort would need two things. People who are well connected in the city the event is being run in and/or people who are very very good at making cold calls. I was hoping to be in the later category as I have only been in London a few years and do not really have great contacts to be able to get venue sponsors etc. The cold calling was quite an experience but in the end the Friday evening beer venue turned out to be better then I had hoped for and we all had a great time drinking away beers from a great sponsor.

During the camp itself there wasn’t the main tasks were to liase with the venues, herd all the sheep (I mean the attendees) around :), ensures the sessions are running to time, ensure plenty of Q&A time being allowed for in each session etc etc. As a result, you as an organiser, do get to enjoy the camp just as much as all the other people.

By the end of Day two I was completely and totally fried. My head was buzzing with all the content from the camp, all the org details and general Geo Goodness. I can safely say that organising this camp has been one of the highlights of my career so far. I am really looking forward to doing it all again one day, but first it’s over to you. Yes YOU! One of our aims in bringing WhereCamp to the EU was that it would spread across Europe. The first one was organised in London by virtue of us being based in London but we are really really hoping that one of the many geo folk out there take it upon themselves to lead the community in the next WhereCampEU. The WhereCampEU Wiki has a section in it for you to put your name down and start thinking about the next camp. We would be glad to help you get started!


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