So I wasn't really sure what I wanted to talk about at BarCamp, and I've been way too busy to prepare anything. Since this was my first BarCamp, I didn't really know what to expect. I assumed my audience would mostly be Mac-toting, TextMate-using Rails developers, with a healthy dose of open source enthusiasts (and probably not too many free software zealots).
So with that in mind, I thought I'd talk about .NET, and whether or not geeks in general should use it, weighing its technical strengths against its source. My approach was to show that .NET was a compelling platform in a few minutes, and then set up the grounds for a discussion about whether or not it is in our best interests to consume a Microsoft product like that. I did *not* want to talk about whether or not free software zealots should be interested in Mono, because that's just exhausting. I threw the slides together Saturday morning, tweaked them a bit while at BarCamp, and presented on Sunday.
What I learned
- People came to my talk who really just wanted to hear more about .NET or Mono. This slowed things down a bit, but I'm glad I was able to help.
- 30 minutes goes by much faster than you think.
- Telling people they can interrupt and ask questions at any point is counter-productive to trying to power through slides and then have time for a discussion. We didn't really have time.
- BarCamp folks are awesome and forgiving even if you're not the best presenter.
- Most people want to be presented to during these 30 minute sessions, so it's important to have a strong focus and a clear message. I didn't really have those, but it still went well I think.
- Scheduling your talk against one entitled "How To Make Money Online" is not a great idea after half the people you meet have identified themselves as "entrepreneurs". At least I didn't have to watch it!
- Turns out I'm not that bad of a presenter when I know what I'm talking about.
Friday night I came home from work, somewhat exhausted, with the goal of starting my slides. I thought I'd try Google Presentations and see what all the fuss was about. Bad idea. I spent almost half an hour preparing five shitty slides, without having time to think about where I really wanted my presentation to go. And I found myself making bullets, just because, the same way I've always felt compelled to make stupid bullets when using PowerPoint/OO.o/etc. I went to bed frustrated.
The downside: my slides only work in XUL-based browsers. I've only tested them in Firefox.
I'm sure there's a way (or easily could be) to do the same sort of thing using S5. I'll look into that for next time.
BarCamp San Diego 2
I have more thoughts about BarCamp, but I think I'll just write about them later. I will say I was a little sad that there were no hackfests, but it's not like I tried to organize one, so I can't really complain. Unconferences are both awesome and weird, and this was my first. Looking forward to the next one!