Here is something different on this blog. My experiences, thoughts and learning over the last week.
Last Saturday (21 Nov), I attended BarCamp Singapore 4, organised by Preetam Rai and Kelvin Quee. Sponsored and held at IDA Singapore (also co-sponsored by Yahoo! SG and Hackerspace.SG), BarCamp was open to all. This being my first attendance at a BarCamp, I was not too sure what to expect although I had some ideas, having read some accounts on previous BarCamps.
What is BarCamp? Read on Wikipedia.
BarCamp is Crowdsourcing
Just like the concept of crowdsourcing in social media, most of the topics of the day were suggested by the attendees (pasted on IDA’s wall as shown on photo to the right), then voted by attendees and eventually presented by the attendees. Anyone was free to present on any topic they fancied (technology, social media, creative arts, culture and social sciences) and there were really off-the-wall submissions including ‘How to Present Difficult Concepts to Lesser Beings’ by Coleman Yee (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and one that I rued I missed: Adrianna Tan’s ‘How to Hack Your Own Travel Channel Life’ (thank God for Slideshare). All in all, I enjoyed the sessions I attended, the learning and the impromptu discussions.
Freedom to Choose and Listen
The magic of BarCamp. As the presentations are run simultaneously in a number of rooms over different timeslots (typically 1/2 hour each), you are free to choose which room to attend, what to listen to and whose ideas to ponder upon. You are also free to leave any room at any time (to join another if you wish) and the floor is always open for discussion or opinions.
And if you’re bored, there are always folks outside, milling about or deep in discussions with others and happy to let you chip in your own thoughts and views. The open atmosphere was indeed infectious.
BarCamp and Relevancy: Deconstructed
I love the relevancy of the occasion, the infusion and exchange of ideas, the challenging of ideas, the worldly learning and the congregation of thinking minds. I met and spoke to technologists of every kind (web, soft/hardware hackers, iPhone fanatics, etc), a Web Shaman, a Second Life machinima producer from Perth, two admirable blokes who flew in from Bangkok specifically for BarCamp, an inspiring and relevant educator and her shy students, two very kind souls running gladlyCast, a free(!) SG SMS-to-Twitter service, a recent Harvard grad passionately doing social good through the web (GIVE.sg), budding entrepreneurs, a managing director of a UK-based tailoring business with a factory in Johore Bahru (talk about a global operation!) and many more thinking personalities. This mish-mashed environment of inspiring people and of current and relevant learning made BarCampSG4 a truly memorable event for me.
Oh I forgot, and there’s Preetam, the dude with boundless energy and a noble heart. The heart of BarCampSG. (PS. May the iPhone find its deserving nemesis :)
To be frank, this post is inspired by Alec Goh’s own post ‘The Point of It All’. Alec is a student of Singapore Polytechnic’s Media and Communication course. One of its lecturers, Ping, is the aforementioned ‘inspiring and relevant educator’. But why? Read this other post from Alec: ‘Twitter became my School Curriculum’. To me, that is the most relevant education in new media you can get these days. I doubt any school textbook in the market today has anything on Twitter and for any media educators to wait for a textbook revision a few quarters down the road, the opportunity to be ‘currently relevant’ to their students’ learning will be lost. Honestly, Ping, you gave your students a terrific headstart and a definite edge in their learning. It is true that Twitter has been derided by many folks as ‘frivolous’ but it does have beneficial real life applications that I believe in, such as real time learning.
But Alec said it best: ‘Twitter is knowledge’. Real time knowledge.
What is #NCT?
This is what I had gathered. NCT is ‘New Communication Technologies’, a module taught by Ping. I chanced upon the #nct Twitter hashtag one day and it has been on permanent search in my Seesmic Twitter app. I have learnt a hell lot from following #nct. I have enjoyed the conversations that had gone in there and learning from the NCT students. Young students have a great way of sharing knowledge with each other, they break it down to easily consumed bite-sized morsels. Coupled with their eagerness to share their newfound knowledge, this can get pretty enlightening. (Trust me, I went through a few years of adult learning. Working adults like to hog information and knowledge to themselves, in a misguided belief that this is ‘competitive advantage’. Bollocks, I say.)
Did I tell you I know what Continuous Partial Attention is? I learnt that from an #nct blog post: Maisara’s ‘Pay Attention to Attention’. Point proven.
For all jaded media professionals out there, don’t worry if you have missed the boat of relevant learning, it is never too late. #nct will help you understand what is relevant today.
Meeting the #nct
BarCamp was a great opportunity to meet with the young folks from NCT. Although I did not have the opportunity to chat with all of them, I was fortunate to get acquainted in the first person with the likes of Hairunizam, Eve, Khan and one other guy whose name I’ve missed (enlighten me please?) Funnily, these folks do not know who Victor Khoo and Charlee are. That made me feel a little ancient. But what they lack in nostalgia, they sure made it up with youthful enthusiasm. I am glad they enjoyed BarCamp, everyone quipped that the learning through the presentations made it all so worthwhile. I love the open-mindedness.
By the way, I would like to congratulate the Year 3s on having completed their course. I wish you guys fun and relevant learning in your internships, it will be a blast!
The Point of It All
Let’s bring it back a little. I would like to ask you again to read Alec’s ‘The Point of It All’. Alec, for someone so young, captured it concisely. The world is changing around us. Media is changing, the way we communicate in person and online is changing. When the generation that includes Alec, Hairunizam, Eve and Khan comes through and rules the world, are we old fogeys ready to embrace and be sufficiently equipped to partake in the new world order?
At BarCamp, I told the group that is Hairunizam, Even, Khan and the unknown guy, that they are in a very promising generation. Social media and openess is changing business and society and they are right smack in the middle of this revolution, learning about it and pondering about it. They will be the pioneering youths that their future employers look to to change how business is done and how messages get told. And seriously, I want them to succeed.
Because the old fogeys need to wake up. The new kids are coming.
Staying relevant has never been this important in the history of the world, undoubtedly.
I leave you now with words from Alec that inspired me and I hope others around me.
‘(Following Ms Kwa’s words) I hope and want to be brave enough to be the first batch to venture the new frontiers despite all the threats and uncertainties. The world changes every second and so would I adapt. Speed, courage, awareness, creativity, openness and social-networking are the notes taken.
The point of it all?
Anticipate change and adapt new relevancy constantly.
- Alec Goh ‘The Point of It All’
Category: Life-long Learning, Management & Leadership, Social Media | Tags: BarCamp, changing world, crowdsourcing, inspire, learning, NCT, relevancy, relevant, Singapore, Social Media, twitter 11 comments »