Surviving BarCamp 2011

“What are you doing today?”

“Going to BarCamp.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s basically a day of douchebaggery and business card distribution, thinly disguised as a day of informative seminars.”

As you may have guessed, I was less than enthused about the idea of spending my Saturday attempting to mingle with people I’d never met. Three years of working from home has made me weird(er), and I wasn’t much of a mingler in the first place. Thus, the idea of being thrown into a room of total strangers and expected to mingle is right up there with “mow the lawn” and “go to baby shower” on the list of things I would rather not do.

I went because I have finally realized that working by yourself at home is perhaps not the best way to stay on top of what people are talking about. Yes, there’s twitter. There are blogs. But neither of those involve BEER, so I went to BarCamp. If nothing else, I would suck it up and perhaps learn how to mingle. Or at least watch successful minglers (aka “marketing people”) in their natural habitat. As I often do, I psyched myself up in order to develop a positive attitude:

“It’ll be like Big Cat Diary. In your head, you can narrate in a British accent. If all else fails, you can do what all other socially awkward people do: you can mess around with your phone and pretend it’s the most interesting thing ever.”

I ended up being pleasantly surprised. While not all of the panels I went to ended up being super exciting, I did actually end up meeting some cool people. I had some very pleasant and non-fake feeling conversations. Yes, I gave out my business card to a few people, but all but one of those people asked for said card. I tend to get into a conversation and completely forget to even OFFER the card, being too distracted by whatever’s being said and the general sensory overload of being in a room full of people.

I ran into a couple of people I know from the coffee shop, one guy I dated for a while and a couple of people I know from Twitter. The surprisingly pleasant day was topped off at the after party, held in a karaoke bar. When one fellow got on stage to sing “Purple Rain,” the initial crowd response was, “hey, he’s actually pretty good.” By the time the guy on stage was hitting the super-high notes at the end, the reaction had grown into “stunned, awed silence.”

“That’s the guy who played guitar for Prince in the 80s!”

“That’s Dez Dickerson?!”

(Of COURSE I knew the guy’s name. Are you new here?)

After he was done singing, I went over and showed him the pictures inside the locket I always wear. Purple Rain-era Prince on the right, Morris Day on the left.

I survived mingling, and I’m glad I didn’t peace out early. I believe this BarCamp thing will have to happen again.

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4 thoughts on “Surviving BarCamp 2011

  1. I have to agree working from home will taint social skills. When email is your prepared line of communication it leaves your actual communication skills on the level of your favorite tv show. (considering i watch a lot of sub-titled anime that gives me -3 to Cha, but I think I got +2 back for each beer!)

    In the “Purple Rain” was the highlight! I don’t even know the song, but it was brilliant. Dude made it feel like there was an actual band on stage.

  2. Dude was totally cheating.

    Also that’s very cool.

    P.S. That determining the little icon with email address is infuriating. I had to make up a new email to get one I kinda like.

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