BarcampCHS 7


I will be at BarCampCHS 7 this Saturday. Although I am not making an explicit sales job of it, anyone who wants to talk about ServiceNow and particularly our independent developer program (for which I am now an evangelist) is welcome to seek me out. I’ll be wearing a company logo shirt and will talk about the company and the program at any length you wish. See you there, fellow makers, geeks and nerds!

Also, I will have Subproto collateral as well, if you want to talk about Myrtle Beach’s hackerspace. Come by if you swing up our way!


“You’ve probably seen ‘s now-famous TED Talk”

I saw this statement in a post, and I can guarantee you that for whatever person you substitute, I have not. TED is yet another thing I am supposed to love without question but is an anti-brand to me. I can’t get excited about forced profundity or delighted that rich technocrats throw the commoners a few crumbs by letting us see the videos of these stilted, affected performances from their parties for themselves.

This is not unrelated to the notion that we are supposed to love high production value podcasts but with shows like This American Life, the production itself is what makes it unpalatable to me. I’ve had enough artifice and slickness, now I’m searching for the visceral, the joyful and the authentic.

CREATE South 2011 is Tomorrow

I’ve been not really involved in the planning for this year and not really blogging since the little 7 pound bomb was detonated into our lives. However, let me note here that the 2011 running of CREATE South happens tomorrow. It is a 100% grassroots, community organized effort to boost the creativity and technology profile of the Grand Strand.

If you haven’t already registered, please go to the site and do so. The session lineup gets shifted every year to match the zeitgeist and what our community seems to want. If you are in the Myrtle Beach area and/or able to make a road trip it’s always a good time. Plus, every year the lunch catered by Proud Purveyors of Pork really sets the crown on fire (and also makes them sleepy in the lunch sessions.) Hope to see you there.

My BarCampCHS Experience

BarCampCHS 2009 Introductions

Last Saturday, October 24 2009, was the first ever BarCamp in the state of South Carolina, BarCampCHS. It was held at the Lowcountry Innovation Center which is in a former Navy yard. The Charleston contingent has been highly supportive of CREATE South the last few years so it only seemed reasonable to support them in this effort. I got up at 5 AM and drove up first thing in the morning. It was pretty uneventful as a drive up until the point I hit the roadblock with the cop blocking the road that both my GPS and a biiiig BarCampCHS sign said was the way to the venue. There was a road race coming through and the cop said I could not go that way. “Where are you going?” he asked. I replied “The Lowcountry Innovation Center.” “I don’t know where that is.” I asked him how long before the road reopened, trying to figure out if we are talking minutes or hours. “I don’t know, I can’t tell you” was his response, which I didn’t believe for one second. I’m sure the cop on this Saturday morning knew when he was able to leave this spot and get on with his life. I opted to just drive off, head in the general direction I believed the building to be, and hope that the Garmin Nuvi GPS would send me to the right spot. After about 10 minutes of meandering around North Charleston, I did in fact get to the venue.

Heahter, Dave, Lisa, Cal, Vera

I got there during the morning breakfast time, and got a chance to chat a bit with friends from the area. I had plenty of time to mingle before the introductory session kicked off at 9 AM. After introductions and some basic housekeeping announcements, the agenda turned to the session pitches. Each person who was interested in presenting gave a 30 second abstract on their session. Theoretically, the sessions would get voted on by the attendees based on how much people wanted to see them. In practice this wasn’t actually necessary because there were more open room slots than session pitches, so everyone that had a session got a room.

This is the first BarCamp I had ever attended, and I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of this part of the structure. A lot of people seem to love it but I’m not wild about it. It definitely distills the attendees down into a class of rarified geek attendees because I’d imagine for most ordinary people the notion of going to a conference that is getting assembled on the fly is off-putting. I find it a little bit so, and I’m in the choir waiting for the preaching. It worked out fine, as I’m sure it always does. I’d be just as happy if the voting happened exclusively online the week before and it got mostly or completely set the day before so that I could plan out which things to attend and know when I got there, with maybe a room or three devoted to the on-the-fly sessions. It’s just my personal preference. I know that the BarCamp format is very popular and I think most other geeks love the feel of just barely pulling it together. I freely admit this is my personal tic, and that I’m a spazz. Milage varies.

As an organizer of a conference myself, I know that it is impossible to predict exactly how things go in practice. One of those things was the placement of the session board and how it affected traffic flow. For 2010 a better spot needs to be found for it. It was at the top of the stairs, and there just wasn’t enough room for many people to jam in and read it at the same time. I’m not sure where it could have gone easily. It made it tricky to figure out where one wanted to go at any given time. I did work out a way to mitigate that some, which I’ll talk about shortly.

BarCampCHS 2009 - iPhone App Development Session

At 10 AM, the sessions kicked off. I spent most of my time in Paul Reynold’s iPhone development session, which was well attended and the crowd seemed pretty into. Somewhere in here, I realized that I had screwed up and completely forgotten to charge up my camcorder. Between the laptop and the camcorder, most of my seating choices during the day were driving predominantly by access to AC outlets. Even though I’ve never even touched an iPhone, I found Paul’s session pretty interesting. In the middle I bugged out for a little bit to go look at that session board. I talked to a few of the people around, asking if anybody had put up a really high res photo of it. There were photos but nothing so high res that you could use it determine what session to go to next. I made the statement that “Someone should set up a wiki of this, so that you can tell from your laptop or iPhone what sessions are what.” Almost as I was saying it, I realized that was a ridiculous statement and with a sentiment contrary to the day. Of course, what that meant is that I should do it. So I quickly created a WikiDot account and created a wiki page for the sessions. By the time I was typing in sessions, it was about 10:45 AM. I entered in all of the 11 AM sessions, saved it, and then tweeted some links for it. Then, after that, I went on with putting the rest of the schedule in. Over the course of the day, I kept checking back in to see if anything had changed. A few times I had to move things around or add sessions and I think what is up there is mostly accurate other than the fact that the 10 AM hour is not represented at all. Because I was filling a need to figure out what to do rather than archiving it, I didn’t think to go back and put in the already past sessions which is now slightly problematic since the Charleston city paper linked to it as a canonical representation of the sessions. If I can find a good photo of the board I will go back and put those sessions in (Note: I did). Funnily enough, as I went through the day I found people using the wiki on their iPhones or laptops, so “Mission Accomplished.”

The 11 AM hour was particularly bad for me, as seven of the nine sessions are ones I would have attended if I could. I went to about half of the XMPP session, put on by a guy from Collecta, and around the halfway point moved over to the Amazon Cloud Computing session. Both were interesting and I could easily have spent the entire time in either or a number of the other sessions.

Once we got into the noon hour, it was time for lunch. It was bbq catered by the Barbecue Joint, a restaurant that was near the venue. I had a giant plate of pork, cole slaw and baked beans. I made an effort to sit with people I didn’t already know, but I didn’t talk to them that much. I did soak in the vibe and listen, but I didin’t have much to say and didn’t introduce myself. I spent a fair bit of time talking to Dan Conover about an idea of his that he posted to the Xark weblog that I think should really be its own business. We talked about his life, why he should pursue this idea, how he could do that without starving and all that fun stuff. This was really a long lunch break we had, which allowed for lots of talking to people and meeting new folks.

There was an assemblage of people outside the back door to take a group photo. This was one of those moments where the hippie anarchy of self-organization really needed to take a back seat for a minute, with one and only one person in charge. After some milling around, Chrys and a few others snapped the pictures for the official record of the event. I’m pretty sure that in a number of those, I am occluded from view. In pretty much all the ones I looked at, I’m not visible. After the photo shoot, it was on to the afternoon.

At 2 PM, I went to the session on Ruby on Rails with git. it turns out that the Ruby on Rails portion was too rudimentary for me, and I ended up getting called out of there anyway. I had a spare projector I had borrowed from my day job, and I was asked if I could set it up in the main room for Team 342 to use during their robot demonstration. I went out to my car to get it, set it up, and the damn thing never worked. After some troubleshooting, I realized that the projector I took of two choices completely at random had a burned out bulb. Unfortunately, that pretty much ate a lot of the 2 PM hour for me. I did go over and walk through the art area, which I liked a lot. I wanted to have something like this last year at CREATE South and I hope to have it more fully fleshed out this year. My goal is for anyone that comes to the conference with something to sell has a community area where they can make that happen. That’s very much like how the art room worked at BarCampCHS and I hope to steal from them what worked.

At 3 PM, I went into the big room for the Team 342 robot presentation. They talked about how the program worked, how they got students involved from college and high school, about the actual bulding of the robot and such. I’ll have to admit that as neat as the robot was, I was more interested in the team, the team dynamics, and how they were organized. I found a lot of that fascinating and interesting for what lessons can be abstracted out to serve as a template. I’m interested in getting involved in helping to create the next generation of geeks in the Grand Strand so I was happy to hear those stories. The presentation ended around 3:30 after which people could fool around and drive the robot. After watching a few of the early amateur attempts, I got the hell out of dodge, spurred on by my own self-preservation gene.

BarCampCHS 2009

I had a few more conversations and met a few more people before the beginning of the 4 PM sessions. At 4 PM, I went to Chrys Rynearson’s session on Drupal. I’ll admit that I knew practically nothing about it before the session began. I got very interested really quickly and decided that this might be good for the CREATE South website so I installed it in our hosting account as I sat there and began working along with Chrys as he showed parts of the administration GUI. I’m far from done with it, but what I have started is here. Chrys is a Drupal wizard who works with it every day at his job, I’m a duffer. His session made me believe that it might well be the best tool for us, though, and made me want to learn more about it. What can be better than that? This sort of thing is why I came, and honestly by itself this session would have made the drive worth it. After this session, I made my goodbyes and hit the road. The 5 PM hour included the popular “BaconCamp” session but I wasn’t on fire for it.

One nice bonus was that they had a stack of books to give away to attendees. You marked three items you were most interested in winning, and they did drawings to give them out. I won one of them, a copy of Microformats Made Simple. Interestingly enough, I had multiple conversations during the day that microformats were applicable to, so I’m looking forward to reading this book.

So overall, I had an absolutely great time. It was fantastic to feel the energy and to see people excited, and excited about how they could learn things to allow them to do good and interesting work. I’m all for anything that raises the tech profile of the South Carolina coast. I think the event generally ran very smoothly with the hiccups being minor in the big scheme of things. The only issues I had were the placement of the session board and my structural qualms with the BarCamp format itself, which is no knock on BarCampCHS. I like the idea of BarCampCHS being a regular annual event in the fall, alternating with CREATE South in Myrtle Beach in the spring. Both events have different feels and different scopes and the presence and possibilities of both make the pair stronger. It was a great day, with great people, great friends, great food and as such, I had a great time. Let’s take what we learned, get smarter and tougher and more bad-assed, build some stuff and teach even more next year!

BarCampCHS Rocked

This is not the full post about BarCampCHS last Saturday in Charleston. That will be coming shortly. This is just a note to say that I had a great time, really appreciated the opportunity to see friends and make new ones, and to help geek up the South Carolina coast. This was a fine event to happen right as we begin to plan CREATE South 2010. It gave us some ideas about how we structure the event as well as provided everyone a booster shot of energy about how great these events are when they come off.

Thanks to Chrys Rynearson and the cast of dozens who helped put the event together, and the 200 or so folks who came out and made it a great day. Full recap coming as soon as I can find the time to type it.

June 13th, The Inexplicably Big Day in the Southeast

One of the things I’ve noticed from living near Myrtle Beach is that there will be stretches where there aren’t any events I care about, then a weekend were everything happens all at once. June 13th is one of those days where in my drivable radius there are a bunch of events. In rough order of closest to farthest

  • Myrtle Beach, SC: At the Baker’s Dog on June 13th will be Pet Portrait Day. I’d like to take Koga there. The whole affair is part of a professional photographer going on tour to raise awareness for animal shelters. Sign me up.
  • Durham, NC: Wordcamp RDU will be that day. Note that if you go to the front page you’ll see Wayne Sutton’s smiling face. I first met him at Converge South 2007 when we walked together from the conference building to the parking lot. Since then he has really become a North Carolina new media superstar. The conference looks really interesting and worth pursuing if you are anywhere close and anywhere involved in WordPress.
  • Clemson, SC: On June 13th, the Southeast Linux Fest will be held on Clemson campus. Fyers for this event are hanging in my workplace and I’ve seen some of the Charleston people talking about going to this event. The speaking schedule looks pretty interesting to me, but I really don’t think I can swing attending. I’m glad it is happening in my part of the country though.
  • Atlanta, GA: The Susi French Connection is the side project of the Gentle Readers and a band I really love seeing. On June 13 they will be playing an early and late show at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur. We went to Atlanta last fall specifically to see them when the Gentle Readers were reforming to play as the opening act. This time Herman Put Down the Gun is opening, but I’m sure the show will rock it out. As they say in their web page “If you don’t have a superlative time at a Susi French show, you must be an evildoer.” Check it out and tell them I sent you.

There might even be more events that I could drive to and would attend. If I find more, I’ll update this post and put them in. Big day, no?

My CREATE South Recap

I have posted my wrapup of Saturday over at the official CREATE South blog. It took an amazing long time to put that together, basically all evening yesterday. I think it was pretty thorough and covers a lot of it, but there is always more you can put in. It was impressive how many really good photos were available for embedding in there. If you go over to the CREATE South 2009 Flickr photo pool you can see these for yourself.

Dave Slusher, Tee Morris

I don’t know if I have that much more to add here beyond that post. The picture I’m embedding here is one of my favorites of the day, because it looks exactly like it felt from my perspective. There was a point in the morning where the adrenaline rush had worn off but all the same stuff still need to be handled and I felt about like I was about to fall over.

When I was standing in front of the crowd introducing Tee Morris and desperately trying to figure out what to say when I came up with a line I really liked. I was talking about how pleasant it is to have him involved and interested in helping because he can talk knowledgeably about so many subjects in such an animated fashion. How it came out was “Tee Morris is like the human version of an ideal gas. He’ll expand to fill whatever volume you give him.”

Thanks again to all the people who helped organize CREATE South 2009, who presented, who videotaped things and everyone who showed up and participated. We are bucking tradition by starting to organize 2010 right now. Let’s keep that excitement going, friends!

CREATE South happening about … um … now

We’re in the middle of CREATE South right now. The sad truth about organizing a blogging/podcasting conference is that it makes you stop doing it. I’m getting that good “Come to Jesus” moment from the whole thing. I’m looking forward to taking this new found second wind of enthusiasm and putting it in to practice. Next week. After some sleep.

Thanks everyone for coming!

CREATE South in 48 Hours

The 2009 edition of CREATE South will be happening on Saturday, just over 48 hours from now. We’ve crossed that freeing point where a lot of the plans for things that would nice but not crucial have been jettisoned. All the good ideas that just didn’t come together, those are out the window. Now it is down to executing on the things we absolutely have to have to make the day turn out.

We have over 130 people registered, which puts us very close to 3 times the 2008 registration. We’re past the point where getting folks to come out is our problem, now it’s making sure those people have a valuable day. We’ve done a lot to get a programming track that should provide something of use to practically anyone. I’m thrilled, nervous and once again completely questioning my own sanity for getting involved. I’m sure in 2010, I’l be at exactly the same point two days out.

Hope to see you, hope to meet you. Creatives, technology lovers, social media junkies of the Carolinas and beyond, let’s throw ourselves one hell of a party!

CREATE South, April 25th in Myrtle Beach

View CREATE South 2009 in a larger map

One of the things consuming a lot of my evenings lately is planning for CREATE South 2009. It will be held Saturday April 25th, and will be in Myrtle Beach at the Grand Strand campus of Horry-Georgetown Technical College. This is a few blocks from Market Commons and about half a mile from the beach. Registration is free, lunch is free. We only ask that you sign up ahead of time so that we know how many people we need to feed.

Our goal is to get together people interested in the intersection of technology and creativity, to meet each other and network, to hang out and teach and learn. We did this last year and it was great, and we’re doing it again but with a significantly more ambitious agenda. We’ll have tracks on art, writing creating community and making rich media. Our keynote speakers are Tiffany Trent and Tee Morris, talking about everyday creativity and social media, respectively. There is a full slate of activities in the afternoon covering the above topics. I think HGTC students might even be able to videotape the whole thing, so it is not impossible we release the whole thing as a video podcast – making the message the medium.

If you are at all able to travel in, we’d love to have you. Considering we have one attendee driving down from Minneapolis, the definition of “driving distance” has been pretty radically expanded here. I guarantee there will be bbq and chicken bog and other South Carolina delicacies available, as well as a full day of information and fellowship and mutual edification with like-minded individuals. Even if you can’t make it, please do us the favor of tweeting or blogging or otherwise posting to what we are doing. Let the word spread far and wide, and I hope to see you there.

This Saturday after Converge South, the Day That is Not BlogHer

If you are going to Greensboro this weekend for Converge South, don’t forget that we are doing a spontaneous make up day to fill in the hole left by BlogHer when they cancelled their Saturday session. Kelby Carr has organized a morning of panels and I have disorganized an afternoon of hands-on workshops. The afternoon will have two rooms running, one focused on blogging and new media and the other on audio and video. There will be presentations in the rooms, with lots of time allowed for questions and some fiddling. Some of the sessions we have set up:

  • ~ 1 PM to 1: 30 PM – Mur Lafferty will be presenting on how to create a community with new media (Mur has to leave shortly after so if you want to see and talk to her, do it sooner rather than later)
  • Dan Conover and Janet Edens will be presenting on how to use blogs and social media to replicate some of the value of traditional media
  • Don Lewis will be presenting how to green screen compositing for video (I really wanted this one because is the session I most need personally)
  • Jared Smith will be doing a demonstration on how he does weather broadcasts via the internet from his home in Charleston
  • I’ll be doing a short practicum in how to do phone interviews via Skype in two channels for ease of editing
  • If there is something you want to learn to do in new media, come armed with your laptop and there will be someone there to teach you the basic skills.

This is being set up on the fly, and the exact timing will be fluid up until Saturday afternoon. We’ll be adding sessions and arranging things even during the Friday sessions, so it will be more like the PodCamp level. If you’ll be going to the Saturday session (and really, why wouldn’t you netizens?) come talk to me on Friday about your needs. At the BBQ on Friday I’ll probably still be wrangling sessions. We’re showing the new media agility and flexibility by arranging in real time, or just-in-time, or maybe not-quite-in-time. Regardless, come and take part. I guarantee you’ll get something out of it or triple your money back.

BlogHer Greensboro is Cancelled but Show Up Anyway

This year’s ConvergeSouth in Greensboro NC was to be a hybrid conference, with CS on Thursday and Friday (October 16 & 17,) with the BlogHer Roadshow on Saturday (October 18.) Well, last week BlogHer cancelled all four of the southern stops on that tour, leaving a hole and leaving those who made non-refundable travel arrangements holding the bag. It turns out Kelby Carr and I had a similar idea at the same time – if the space at NC A&T was being held for BlogHer and we could keep it, we could put in grassroots programming and fill that void. Lo and behold, it is now all official.

Sue Polinsky kindly acted as our negotiator with the college to (re)arrange the space, and Kelby and I split the day between us. Kelby is organizing the morning sessions, which are similar to and for a similar constituency as the original BlogHer sessions. I’m putting together hands-on workshops for the afternoon, not unlike what we did for CREATE South (and what we just started putting together for next year.) The goal of the afternoon is to get people together in the same room with some to teach, some to learn and everyone to walk out more knowledgeable and equipped to execute on their visions.

I personally want to learn how to do green screen video compositing, and have made sure we have a kind volunteer to help us with that – Charleston’s Don Lewis. Jared Smith will be presenting on how he does weather broadcasts over the internet. I’m going to show people how to record interviews via Skype. On top of that, there will be plenty of time and volunteers to walk people through specific tasks they need help with? Need basic help in setting up a blog? We can do that. Interested in doing a podcast but not sure where to begin? Check, we’ll make that happen for you.

I’m stealing from myself in using the Uplifter motto – “Bring What You Have; Teach What You Know; Learn What You Need.” If you were planning on coming to BlogHer or even if you weren’t, we’d love to have you come on Saturday. Let us teach you, teach us something, participate and share and socialize. I promise it will be a good time or triple your money back.

Thanks again to Sue, to Kelby for being a co-conspirator, to Ed for helping publicize (and for keynoting CREATE South!), to everyone willing to present and mentor and attend. If you need more information, want to volunteer or request specific programming for the afternoon, please drop me an email. Let’s do it live!

Update: Some details about presentations are now posted. Come join us!

ConvergeSouth 2008 Is Online

The site for the 2008 ConvergeSouth conference is online. This is a great conference and shindig they throw up there in Greensboro NC. I’ve been to two of the first three and it is in most ways the spiritual sibling of our CREATE South conference, down to both having Ed Cone. I really dig what they do so if you are in range I’d suggest you think hard about going to it.

CREATE South Conference Rolls On

I’m freaked out by how fast the CREATE South conference weekend is coming upon us. April 19th approaches at a startling rate. Over on the CREATE South blog I announce that Ed Cone is our keynote speaker! I’m delighted by this because in several ways Ed was an inspiration for us to have this conference in the first place.

We still need to get the word out into the constituencies that could benefit most by this conference. Tell your offline, non-blogging friends about it. If they are within driving distance of Myrtle Beach, they should just come on out and spend the day with us. If you have people you’d like to get blogging but don’t feel like teaching them, send them our way. We’ll teach them, that’s what we do.

We’re still looking for someone to do a session on how to use new media in a church setting. If you want to do that or know of someone that could, drop me an email. If you or your company are interested in sponsoring the conference, drop me an email.

Tonight I hope to flesh out the programming page, send out tons of emails inviting people and generally doing the busy work of making such a thing happen. Chip in a little bit and tell a friend, blog about it, etc. Help me out, blogosphere! I really need it.