Barcamp Nashville: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly #bcn09

Barcamp Nasville 2009 was my first barcamp nashville event.  Having spent some time (well more time than I shall indulge) at internet / web events, I’ll say it’s the best run FREE event I’ve attended. Everything from the session mix and the location to the volunteers and sponsors – it was a first class operation.

The Good

I sit here looking at a blank unmoving cursor as I wonder where to start. Of the good what’s actually important and how many “good” things do you talk about before your blathering just dulls. . . So I’ll start with my takeaways.

“Don’t spew link vomit. . .” was my favorite session. I had no real idea what this session was going to be about, but I just finished a social media link-study for “P90X” and was curious. The session was run mostly by the social media folks at The Tennessean and Alison Groves, who brought a real, concrete & new concept to discuss (i.e. the use of a branded url shortener). While I did a “time of day” and “action word” study using what I’d considered a branded link ( – they actually created a new, a new, a new snurl for themselves. And their data proved pretty convincingly that the concept works well.

I also enjoyed the 11:30 SEO session with Justin Briggs. I’ll say that if you were new to SEO – this was likely chock full of useful information. From somewhat of a veteran’s standpoint – Justin included enough “advanced” SEO information that I kept busy making notes. The “canonical” tag topic was not only new to me – but very useful information. He also included some links to SEO tools I hadn’t tried yet and posted his slides on Twitter in case you missed them. Excellent 30 minutes.

To round out my top 3 sessions (which I’ve apparently decided to write about), I’d give Kudos to John Morgan’s “How to Create Buzz” workshop. I didn’t leave John’s talk with copious notes on what I need to add, change or delete in my business – but did leave with a new sense of “buzz-worthy”. I believe he said if you’re trying to create massive buzz for your site, you first must ask yourself – is your site even buzz-worthy? A bit more philosophical than some of the others – but I’m still thinking about it 30 hours later.

The Bad

Ooohh. . . How can you write about the bad stuff when some of your friends helped organize it? I’d say the worst part was seeing the “untaken” name tags left at the registration table. I don’t know if there were 18 or 800, I just remember walking by the table at 3:00 thinking “I’m glad I’m not one of them.”

The only bad part about an event like this is the session length, but it’s kind of a catch-22, I’d say. At 30 minutes, I felt like the speakers had enough time to fully present their material – but that sometimes left no time for Q&A or more in-depth talks. To quickly counter that, I will add that all the presenters were immediately available for Q&A and had their biz cards ready for follow-up after the event. So I’m not sure I’d change it.  I just remember sitting there a couple times thinking it went too fast.

My favorite internet/web event for session length is the NAMS event in Atlanta which happens 2x per year (next one being January). That’s the only other “no-pitch” event that I regularly attend. As a 3 day event, it’s an entirely different animal. What I really love is each session is 1 hour of learning followed by hands-on 1 hour workshop. In my opinion – it’s the best environment around to really learn something, have the chance to try it out and have experts on hand to help.

Otherwise, I’m not sure there was really a bad I could harp on.

The Ugly

Hmm. . . There’s ugly in everything. In fact they say in any group of 5 friends, 2 are ugly. So I’m trying to come up with the ugly and have come to the sad realization that I may be it.  You should have seen my face once they started talking in the Symfony vs Rails discussion. That’s a topic that was way over my head. It was a good thing that session was only 30 minutes. I’m not sure I wanted to feel that “out of the loop” for much longer.

I look forward to the next Barcamp Nashville event. Thanks to all who put it on.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. dan

    I didn’t mention it, but seek out the video to John Morgan’s session. Listen to what he says about one thing you could do to create a “buzz”. Not only does his suggestion give you pause, but for me opened up a line of thinking I hadn’t pursued before.


  2. John Morgan

    Dan, awesome recap! Thanks for the kind words about my session. I’m glad it got you thinking. You seemed to sum up the event nicely. Hope to see you at the Hville Geek Breakfast soon!


  3. Alison Groves

    That’s too kind Dan! Many thanks.

  4. Dave Delaney

    Great recap Dan! I wish I had seen some of those sessions.
    I hope the Ustream recorded them all. I’m dying to check them out.


  5. dan

    Jenny, it was great meeting you as well. I look forward to more chats.

    Alison and Eric, I do appreciate your willingness to discuss that “branded url shortner” strategy using data. It was helpful and I felt you gave more that expected with that.

    After seeing your comment, Alison, I felt remiss with my post so I updated it with a link to your company. If anyone is interested in the branded url shortener topic, I hope they’ll contact you.


  6. Alison Groves

    We’re so glad you enjoyed the session Dan! Very nice of you to give us kudos, for sure. Let’s connect and we’ll chat more about it all.

  7. Eric Shuff

    Glad you enjoyed our session! We had a great time presenting to such an attentive crowd. There were some great questions at the end, too. I just wish we had a bit longer to answer more of them.

  8. Jenny DeVaughn

    It was great meeting you at BarCamp Nashville, Dan! I hope you’ll do a session on SEO at the next one.

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