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Apr 06

Learning Barcamp and Comics

Posted by Andrew Luke

Andrew Luke

If you glance through my blog on WikiWorldBook you'll notice the last six posts are about the recent OxfordBarcamp. However helpful these may be to readers, posting at such length betrays a lack of learning on my part from Barcamp in that its a collaborative effort Barcamp isn't and shouldn't be centred around the consolidated works of one person. This post, I'm going to reflect on some of the qualitative and aesthetic observances I made at BarcampApache Oxford, and follow on to suggest how they might be utilised by Matthew Badham's suggestion of a comics barcamp.

For those asking what I mean by a barcamp. you might wish to check out Wikipedia's definition.

BarcampOxford seemed to me to be quite issue focussed, and less about 'personality'. Idea-centric is probably the term I'm looking for.

The Open Space Grid approach

This appears to be have been made up from chip shop paper or office scrolls, although in fact its sixteen sheets of A3 taped together. The original scheduling of sessions as above didn't remain fixed from 10am, and positions were shifted about throughout the day. In addition to the four conference rooms, there were also four spaces available in the central common area. These were built around two sets of two sofas facing, and the others around collections of four or five chairs around a table. This seems like an ideal model for a DIY themed Caption, and I've heard of a year or two hinting at Barcamp-esque moments.

The initial starter for point-of-entrance to the Barcamp was through the wiki. I'm not going to link today to a ComicsBarcampWiki, someones going to link it to this post. If you'd like to see a barcamp happen, theres something you could create.

Sponsorship was provided through branded pens, mugs, pencils and notepaper. I noticed a distinct lack of flyers around the place - the only set materialised after a relevant conversation in session, and were related to a barcamp-type event. This added to the general tidiness of the open space. The only branding on site was on those objects that added to the then-and-now functionality of the barcamp. A ComicsBarcamp might take in sponsorship from FPI, Rebellion, Gosh or Page45: I reckon that some of these businesses have branded notepads lying about. Smaller publishers might wish to splash out with a contribution advertising their comics likewise, or on a pack of fifty pens or pencils.

The venue came equipped with a Wi-Fi connection, which was a must for an IT-related event, and probably good advice for other barcamps. Projectors, power cords and bunk spaces were also provided within this all-contribute model. Insofar as the technology aspect goes, it would be good to be able to update regularly from the central location. One option might be working in afew sessions streaming videofeed for those who can't make the event to contribute to discussion. The central common area had friendly posters guiding.

(Law of Two Feet)

Tea, coffee and fruit juice and snackbars were waiting for me when I arrived off the bad bus service full of bed-face. A lunch for fifty people was also sponsored. I like this sort of treatment, OxfordBarCamp provided some lovely gourmet sandwiches, baguettes and cold meats, although part of lunch can be prepared by industrial home pack-lunching. Theres dietary sustenance there, that dis-associates by degrees of separation with on-the-day monetary transaction. It means that theres no need to leave the site to seek out lunch, and 'lose' the event of business. Though that writ, a group afternoon walking event was facilitated to let folk take in the beautiful surroundings together. Its complimentary of conference supports individual worth. Interestingly, there was a bar at OxfordBarCamp but I didn't see anyone utilise it until the final hour or two. Perhaps comics festivals reliance on alcohol-stocked venue might be a bit of a throwback impairing judgement?

(Principles of Open Space)

The University Club where the OxfordApacheBarcamp was held was composed of a central hub space common area, with adjoining conference rooms. These seemed designed for 6-7 people but many more could fit in. This seems to me relatively ideal. I'm thinking along the lines of a large trad comicsfestival city such as London, Birmingham, Bristol or Oxford. However, these are all English venues, and it would be a gross error to rule out doing this in other parts of the UK, Ireland, or anywhere else for that matter. Its already proven Barcamp is a powerful tool for community mobilisation. With barcamp, all is flexible, idea-centric over person-centric . The only truths we create, are from the knowledge we share.

The Gravett Events Diary.
The first BarCampApacheOxford Wiki

Introductory Case Study: Oxford
Home to Caption, 2000AD and the DFC. A ComicsBarcamp in Oxford there would be fabulous although day rates are pricey to wholly dependent on sponsorship. Other similar (and similarly priced) venues are ex-Caption venues, the St. Michael's Union and Wolfson College. The East Oxford Community Centre is certainly functional, and very affordable though the unsightly exterior could put off larger sponsorships. The West Oxford Community Centre, if I remember rightly is twice the price, but with a larger main hall area, with picturesque qualities of a patio, playing pitch, nearby allottments and canal.


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