Day 2 of Barcamp Bangalore No. 6 (Apr 20 Sun) started off on a pleasant note because I just had to stop and admire the greenery of the IIMB campus.
Had an impromptu discussion on development on Nokia Phones with Ashwin and another person who worked in Nokia. Surprised to hear that it costs so much!
Then, attended a session on "Pattern Labs" who are trying to create a better knowledge base for GAP, a conglomerate of NGOs for sustainable development. What they're trying to achieve was quite admirable and definitely needed, but for the life of me, I just couldn't understand what they're trying to do in this Pattern Labs and what kind of software they're trying to develop.
This was followed by a 5-10 min discussion on Web 2.0 for K-12 education, it was interesting to note that there were few success stories where kids used a wiki to collaboratively write a poem using the "diamond pattern" they teach in school and were benefited by this approach.
Then Rajiv Poddar initiated a discussion on the legal status of VoIP in India and why there should be a correction. Basically, VoIP calls cannot reach a PSTN/PLMN i.e. landline or mobile phones in India. Why? Because it will hurt VSNL's revenues. An equally relevant issue is that VSNL is the only gateway in India trying to control all traffic for no real reason. But why is VoIP important? Because it makes phone calls damn inexpensive and there are many innovations that can be done around it - right from system integration to enabling live voice discussions for a website, all at a low cost.
Rajiv equated this situation to the telephony space - the government was afraid that BSNL won't make money, but once the space was opened, everyone now knows the story of the rapid growth of telephony and communication in India, after all India is the fastest growing market. It did more good than harm.
Previously I had known that there are some legal issues with VoIP but had never ventured to learn about it until I happened to walk into this session. A group called Voice of VoIP was created on the spot to take the discussion forward and see if something can be done about it.
Then, Vinayak Hegde had an interesting session on High performance websites. Again, the crowd had a lively discussion on tips and tricks right from something called "CSS sprites" to using YSlow, Minify, Expires Headers, ETags, and so on.
And in between all this, I met many people. In fact, when we were mingling, few of us decided to go to the Coffee Day outlet in the next building to get something cold. It was such a sultry weather. And there we found, Shourya and another college student (Jayanth?) playing guitars and singing Def Leppard songs!
There were some amazingly funny and insightful discussions going on as well, many of which I can't write here, but I'll especially remember Kushal Das' stories. I never thought someone had the guts to pull off giving an Intel 865 motherboard to his girlfriend on Valentine's Day! And they even have fights over GCC. Wow, that's like a geek's dream, right? Anyway, I wish him all the best, hope they're together for a long time and more.
The day ended with a feedback session on the good, bad and ugly of Barcamp. Most people had suggestions and cribs but they said they got used to it once they understood the idea of how Barcamps work - it's meant to be not organized and scheduled properly. Things should happen on-the-fly. And again, people asked for video archives of the sessions because they missed many due to the parallel tracks. Simple answer - get a video camera and record. If 4-5 people can volunteer, the problem is solved. The real problem is not enough people willing to do these things. Barcamp works only when everyone pitches in, whether you are initiating a session, volunteering or at least putting your name on the wiki.
There were more discussions, but in the end people agreed that the current format is great and nothing needs to be changed for number 7.
Bottom line: Adjust maadi. Don't make it a "conference"!
There are only a few things that can get me high - running, passionate techie discussions, meeting new people, and interesting and insightful conversations. I had a good dose of all of these in two days, so BCB6 was simply well-spent time for me. And it looks like many other campers feel the same way as well.