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ukgovweb barcamp

After an absolutely appalling visit to my local libraries (yes plural) where I was actually unable to find a book (not for lack of the book, but rather because their search system was dreadful), and an attempt to find some planning documents on a different council’s website I experienced  first hand that inability of the Government to complete even local tech projects, let alone national scale ones.

Both websites (Brent Library and Haringey Town Planning) are almost impossible to successfully use, display information you don’t want/ need and confuse even experienced users to no end. They are certainly not examples of perfection in Interaction Design.

Then, I stumbled upon the UKGovWeb BarCamp, and had a look through the list of suggested talking points, lots and lots on Web 2.0 (eughh),  Strategy (eughh) and Social Networking (this seems interesting atleast),  but what shocked me was that not a single person had indicated they wanted to talk about the Interaction Design of Government websites, or even the Usability. So I resolved to do a talk on this (as an outside observer) and proclaim the IxD banner out loud.

Great, so I signed up to the growing list (80 odd people already) and started nosing around the associated documentation, when it hit me. BUREAUCRACY. It was everywhere, three way collaboration on sessions, peer review, schedule shaping. They wanted people to sign up into sessions (having collaborated with others to share the 1 hour slots) weeks in advance, so that attendees could “review” the sessions in case they wanted something different!

Im really happy that UKGov Web Types want to hold a barcamp to do the stuff we do at barcamps, but don’t have a conference and call it a barcamp for the sakes of pretending you are doing something different, make sure almost everyone speaks, in their own session, about a subject area they are passionate about (even if it is one of those areas that bores me, there will be others who are interested)

Anyway, I will be going, I will be presenting on “IxD, Usability and Government Websites” or something aproaching that, and I certinaly wont be publishing my slides for peer review before hand, that takes then fun out of it.

Hope to see some of you there.

My First BarCamp

I have another first for you all today, my first BarCamp. In a word (and so that you don’t have to read the rest of the post to find out my opinion): Awesome.My only regret is that I missed pretty much all of the sessions and only had a chance to socialize with other people there (not that this wasn’t fun but sort of misses the point of BarCamp). I was stuck at Apple on Saturday and had a personal family thing on Sunday morning. Nevertheless (apparently that’s a real word, cool!) I was there Saturday night until some silly hour playing Warewolf and talking geek and Sunday for lunch (oh my, GoogleFood is good) and finish. Why oh why I haven’t involved myself in this world of real geekery beforehand I do not know, but I can assure you I will be more involved in the future.The sessions I attended were really interesting and the food was awesome but I think the best bit for me was the sense of community I was starting to feel. People I had previously met at Web2 Berlin were there and I felt a strong sense that people do see each other at all sorts of events like this.On a final note, during the session on the future of BarCamps I had an idea that there should be a Student BarCamp. I know all the arguments about not restricting groups down to specifics (thus stifling diversity) but I think students are a diverse enough group by themselves, and I really think there is a strong barrier to entry because of the fear of not being able to hold their own in comparison to some of the giants of the industry. I’m also a big fan of the concept of the ‘youth’ of today are the leaders of tomorrow and thus working with students is really important. I know I was at this (and other) events, but all of my student friends who I tell are a little skeptical about some aspects, and so a nice way to introduce them to this wonderful world might be this…..Anyway, Student BarCamp, London, February 2008 🙂