I won't make it to BarCamp Nashville this weekend, but that doesn't mean you can't.
If you're at all interested or involved in topics like online marketing or technology, BarCamp is a great deal -- a free technology conference with lots of opportunity to network. The only costs are downtown parking, the optional catered box lunch, and the cash bar, if you're so inclined.
The event will be held Saturday at Tequila Cowboy (formerly Cadillac Ranch) at 305 Broadway in downtown Nashville. Doors open at 8 a.m. and sessions begin at 9 a.m. You can register online at barcampnashville.org.
I've been to several of the Nashville events, and I've always learned things and made good contacts.
BarCamp is a movement of free, user-driven technology conferences held in various cities around the globe. The events are organized by volunteers, and anyone can volunteer to lead a breakout session. The BarCamp tradition is to refer to the event as an "un-conference."
The unusual name came about because the first BarCamp was designed as a low-cost, open alternative to an exclusive, invitation-only event called FooCamp. The name was a play on words making reference to the slang term "foobar," or FUBAR, an acronym for Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition. The BarCamp name is appropriate because many such events have been held at unusual locations like bars and nightclubs. Nashville's event started in 2007 at the legendary nightclub Exit/In, then moved a year or two later to meeting rooms in the lower levels of Bridgestone Arena, and then eventually settled in its current home.
Some of the sessions scheduled Saturday include:
"You Are Not Don Draper, But You Can Still Write Copy";
"Intro to Responsive Design," with an emphasis on making your web site adapt to mobile devices;
"How a Redesign Killed DrJeffCornwall.com," a case study about how changes to a website drastically harmed its Google ranking;
"Local Reporters: What's News, and What's Not," a discussion of local media coverage of venture, technology and startups;
"Podcasting 101" (there's also a BarCamp-like event called "PodCamp" held at a different time of year);
"Roast Your Own Coffee With A Popcorn Popper" (They're not all tech-related!);
"Minecraft: The Game for Everyman (and Woman)";
"Rise of the Tablets: How tablets are changing mobile";
"Improvisation for the Internet: From Comedy to Viral Content";
"All is Fair (Use) in Love & Copyright: Fair Use 101 for Content Creators";
"WordPress Development: A Panel"; and
"Google Analytics: Everyone Uses it, But Not Everyone USES It."
That's just a sample; go to the web site to see the full list.
Participants are encouraged to use Twitter and other social media to comment on and react to the sessions as they're taking place, and strategically-placed monitors let you follow Twitter posts with the #bcn12 hashtag. There are also vendor booths and displays, many of them with door prizes.
There's usually some optional entertainment in the evening, for those who'd like to continue to network and enjoy themselves.
Seriously, BarCamp is a great source of information, and a great place to meet people with interests in the web and technology. And it's not too late to sign up. Tell everyone I said hello.
--John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette and covers county government.