n Nov. 8, NYU Shanghai held the annual Shanghai BarCamp, at the second-floor of the Academic Building between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. BarCamp, labelled an “unconference”, is a user-generated event and is concentrated around the areas of technology and the web.
The first “unconference” was held in Palo Alto, California, in 2005, as a public alternative for some of the exclusive technology conferences that has has been around. Since then, BarCamp has spread all over the world – reaching Shanghai in 2006. The event originally focused on web applications, but the event was expanded to talk about other topics such as open source technologies, health, and education.
Unconferences are open, participant-driven conferences with a fluid schedule – for example, participants who want to give presentations, can hold discussions at any time. The purpose is to get away from the stiffness of ordinary conferences, and provoke open discussions between all attendees.
This schedule was the first thing that I noticed upon entering the second floor of the Academic Building yesterday. Seeing how few presentations were scheduled for the day, I thought “Well it is going to be boring”, and it was not only half an hour later when almost all the spots were filled by people who just arrived.
There was a great variation of topics: there were lectures on everything from fashion to internet security. One of the most trending events was the all-day Oculus Rift (a virtual 3D gaming device) presentation that gave everybody the opportunity to try the device out – anytime I went by, there was always a huge line, with people eagerly waiting to test the device.
NYU Shanghai’s Faculty of Interactive Media Arts also held presentations and workshops throughout the day. Assistive Technology and Toy Hacking also provided an presented technologies aimed to further help disabled children, and how to modify toys in order to make them more accessible. In the afternoon, there was also a toy designer challenge – a true highlight of the event.
BarCamp, whilst a strange concept, was very impressive and thrilling. Presenters were also accompanied by attendees simply interested in listening and viewing, allowing the event to encompass a variety of ideas. At the end of the day, I was amazed and overwhelmed by an NYU Shanghai event yet again – and not only because of the amount of free food I ate.
This article was written by Máté Mohos. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: BarCamp