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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, April 18, 2014

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Participants learn how to spring locks at the Lock Picking Village. Photo: Pete Prodoehl (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Participants learn how to spring locks at the Lock Picking Village. Photo: Pete Prodoehl (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Does this look like any conference you've ever been to? Photo: Tracy Apps (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Does this look like any conference you've ever been to? Photo: Tracy Apps (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Learning about light and photography. Photo: Pete Prodoehl (CC BY 2.0)
Learning about light and photography. Photo: Pete Prodoehl (CC BY 2.0)
Cars are not beyond the scope of technology. Photo: John December (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Cars are not beyond the scope of technology. Photo: John December (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Hack away! Photo: John December (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Hack away! Photo: John December (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Even the most conference-y part of BarCamp is still the least conference-y conference you'll ever go to. Photo: John December (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Even the most conference-y part of BarCamp is still the least conference-y conference you'll ever go to. Photo: John December (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Seven years of BarCampMilwaukee

Have you ever been to one of those conferences that have you sitting in uncomfortable plastic chairs, all lined neatly, in a huge, dim, wide-open room? Then, when the first speaker arrives, they start by saying, "Good morning," but your coffee hasn't quite kicked in, so there is only a murmur of return salutations. Then the speaker says, "Aww, c'mon. You can do better than that! GOOD MORNING!" and you have to heft your vocal chords off their butts and heave your words out of your mouth like a bag of damp diapers, "GOOD MORNING."

BarCampMilwaukee7 is not one of those conferences. It involves starship bridge simulators instead.

BarCampMilwaukee7: Seven Minutes of Terror (named for the Mars rover Curiosity landing earlier this year) is different from a typical corporate conference. BarCamps are a participatory "unconference" event, where there is no "one" speaker and attendees are in charge of what happens. It is an open environment where people interested in teaching and learning come together to share their knowledge and experiences.

BarCamps are an international phenomenon, with some being planned as far away as Zimbabwe.

BarCampMilwaukee veteran James Carlson describes it this way: "At an unconference like BarCamp, attendees aren’t coming to see one person speak, or a 'panel of experts' on stage. Attendees meet and connect with people who, like them, are interested in technology. We are all experts at our own experiences, and BarCamp is about sharing those experiences with others."

In other words, if you know something about a subject, you will have many opportunities to contribute. If you are simply interested in learning more on a subject, you will have many opportunities to learn from many different perspectives.

And be sure to bring your gadgets, because unlike a corporate gig, BarCamps are a participatory experience. BarCampMilwaukee focuses on technology and much like light passing through a prism, the topics within that focus have a varied complexity, providing something of interest for everybody. For instance, while photography is about technology it is something to which we can all relate.

In past years BarCampers have discussed robots, Drupal, dating, elevator hacking, Ruby on Rails, video editing, technology solutions for non-profits, gone on PhotoWalks, covered Microformats, talked about gadgets, played Nintendo Wii, Guitar Hero, werewolf, seen immersive 3D environments, talked about software development, open source, closed source, web development, and plenty of other things for makers, DIYers, artists and other creatives.

This year some of the proposed sessions include general interest topics like Nerdy Derby Race, What's the Buzz About Bees, Mind-myths, cognitive biases, and cutting through the Neurobollocks up to the the high technology of Raspberry Pi, Idiomatic Node.js Patterns and SQL Injection Attacks for Fun and Profit. Plus, what is sure to give anyone a geek high, Artemis, the Starship Bridge Simulator. Here is a video of Artemis in action.

And of course, due to the nature of BarCamps, these topics are subject to change, improve, include, and  diverge down any number of interesting pathways.

BarCampMilwaukee7 kicks off  at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, and runs non-stop until Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. It is free to attend, but you are requested to register at barcampmilwaukee.org. BarCampMilwaukee is hosted by Bucketworks in Walker's Point.

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