Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Smallworld Camp

As I was returning from the GE Smallworld Americas Users Conference last week, I began to reflect on the pros and cons of my experience there. A highlight of the trip was the networking I was able to do with colleagues, customers, potential customers, etc. I was able to sit in on a number of presentations, too. It turned out that the ones that I found most interesting were the ones that had some kind of live demo or at the very least some code/pseudocode that showed how a particular problem was solved.

So it seems that I have a greater attention span for technically detailed presentations than I do for high-level marketing presentations. And that got me thinking about what options were available for some kind of different way of having technical interactions in the Smallworld/Magik realm than the typical conference presentation format. My research "found" that there is exactly that kind of "different" format available in the wider coding/techie world. It goes by names such as FooCamp, BarCamp, CodeCamp, unconference.

As I read more about it, I thought "why not a Smallworld Camp?" My colleague Graham and I get together for "coffee and code" sessions where the content is completely participant-driven. And I always get alot out of those sessions. How difficult would it be to coordinate a Smallworld Camp if its participants were all motivated participants? I have not heard of any kind of Smallworld/Magik type of BarCamp. If anyone has participated in such an unconference, please let me know. I would love to hear how it went.

While waiting to hear if any other such participant-driven events have been planned, I present to you Smallworld Camp. I have borrowed heavily from the BarCamp.org wiki template. All BarCamps are about open sharing and education. A Smallworld Camp is about this open interaction within the Smallworld developer community. Having an accessible repository for presentation documents and demo code contributes to that openness.

Why participate in a Smallworld Camp?
  • strengthen the Smallworld/Magik community. Having better educated Smallworld developers who also share their experiences with others can only help to make the Smallworld technology more attractive to new customers.
  • get real live code examples
  • meet old friends and make new connections
  • give back to the community that provides us our livelihood
  • improve your Smallworld/Magik skillset by receiving and providing mentoring
  • more interaction than a typical conference presentation

I hope to facilitate the first Smallworld Camp in the Boulder/Denver area some time between now and GITA. The only way it works is for more than 1 person to be part of it so if you are interested, please jump in and contribute to the planning at http://smallworldcamp.pbworks.com/SmallworldCampBoulder2009

I have never participated in a BarCamp or CodeCamp, but am fascinated by the concept. If you have any comments to share about your experiences in a BarCamp, please leave a comment. I would be very interested to hear if you think such a model would work in the Smallworld community.

As a final note, Smallworld Camp is not endorsed nor supported by GE. As a matter of fact, no one organization may ever plan a BarCamp. The camps are by and for developers. Corporations are encouraged to sponsor various parts of the event but all content is always driven by the participants.

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