Folks watching my facebook updates and tweets of late have been wondering “What is a BarCamp? And what does it have to do with wine?”
What is BarCamp?
A couple people have assumed that it’s like an intensive training camp for barristas or bar patrons. While I love that assumption, it is slightly off the mark. BarCamps are a type of conference or symposium. They are sort of an anarchic un-Conference, organized by all the attendees at the very last minute. I mean they’re not totally anarchic. There are rules of BarCamp. But the rules are written on a wiki that anybody can change. The whole thing has the spirit of a temporary autonomous zone, and it’s a far cry from traditionally organized, opaque, pre-scheduled industry gabfests that used to dominate the tech space.
An Inaccurate History of BarCamps Based on Conjecture and Speculation
Everything I know about BarCamp I learned by skimming wikipedia and a few articles online. So take this with a grain of salt. But my general understanding is that some time way back when (2005), O’Reilly launched an impromptu user-generated conference called FooCamp (a play on the computer term Foobar). After the success of this event, a bunch of people started running similarly anarchic BarCamps (a play on the second syllable of Foobar).
BarCamps are a backlash against all the super-strict industry events that can dominate technology conferences (and wine conferences for that matter).
Anybody can start a BarCamp by getting a space and posting a wikipedia page on the BarCamp wiki. And then anybody with the Internet can modify the wiki. And miraculously, it works. You get a big group of people who are leading the charge in their industry to convene and exchange ideas. And it’s very participatory. No visitors. You are highly encouraged to talk.
And what is VinoCamp Paris?
VinoCamp is a BarCamp devoted to wine. Normally, BarCamps are about technology. VinoCamp will be about wine and technology. There is a lot of energy being put into bringing wine online. There are several large-scale social networks devoted to wine. There are thousands of blogs devoted to everything from tasting notes to wine news to estate visits. There are thousands of online stores and other web-based wine businesses. So there’s a lot going on in this space and it makes sense that all of us get together and exchange ideas.
This is not the first VinoCamp. There were VinoCamps in 2008 and 2009 in Canada. But this one definitely has a different feel. I’ll report on this less ambiguously during and after the actual camp. Right here and a bit on Love That Languedoc too, probably.
But what is VinoCamp ACTUALLY
Well it’s hard to answer because the entire event can change at the last minute. The only thing set in stone is that we’re all meeting at La Cantine in Paris on Saturday, July 10, 2010. I’ll be there around 10 AM. And after that the sky is the limit. Topics and presentations will be discussed as we go along.
Obviously, there are some topics that cannot be avoided. We will obviously address the European Wine Bloggers Conference coming up in October, for example. With this particular group of people, it would be silly to ignore the Conference.
People keep suggesting that I am exaggerating and that I have a basic idea of what will go on because lots of preliminary ideas have been posted on the VinoCamp Paris wiki. This is untrue. While many ideas have been posted on the wiki and several discussions have taken place online and in the real world, nothing is predetermined.
For example, I am actually in a minority of people that believes we should be able to consume wine during the presentations throughout the day. In the pre-discussions, it generally seems people are against this because it could let the whole event fall into a sort of debaucherous boozefest rather than an important marketplace of ideas. To that I say, “Too bad.” This boy is drinking. And if you want to hear what I have to say, you’re going to have to shut your eyes or see me holding a glass of wine! And the awesome thing about a BarCamp is that it is totally up for discussion.
Although I do have to agree with the general point that we shouldn’t open up the BarCamp Bar until much later in the day. If you are uninterested in the forum and just want to drink, go to a bar. No Camp required.