Monday, July 30, 2007

Moments from Bar Camp Bangalore 4 (BCB4)...

I missed Day 1 of the BarCamp Bangalore 4 (BCB4) for some reasons those were beyond my control but then was there for the entire Day 2 events. BCB4, which was held in the sylvan atmosphere of IIM Bangalore, did live up to the ethos of the unconference meet. This was not a large corporate conference where discussions are held in an organized manner inside rooms but everything footraces on an informal interactive note.
The camp offered something or the other for all the participants: tech geeks, social entrepreneurs, journalists, photographers, bloggers, startup champions, bicycle riders, etc and the events were conducted in classrooms, lawns, corridors and even a discussion over a cup of coffee. BarCamp's framework is to allow people to share and learn in an open environment.
The event commenced with a short briefing on the day’s schedule and this event was held at the main Auditorium.
The special feature of this BarCamp was the formation of collectives to cater to the varied interests and tastes of the participants.
There were sessions on tools used for pod casting, tricks and techniques to protect one’s photographs on one's blogs. These topics had run-of-the-mill material and so were the presentations.
(Swaminathan’s talk on tools used for pod casting.)
The discussion was turning too monotonous and to give the crowd a gingery thrill, there was an informative session on Mobile Blogging by Arun, who works for Satyam Computers. He is one of the organizers of the BCB4.
(Arun with his talk on mobile blogging and inputs for Corporate Blogging)
This was followed by a session on Corporate Blogging and the way this medium is catching up in India by our very own Desicritics editor, Kishore. Perceptions winged from how marketers are looking at blogs as a mighty social media to how corporate blogging activity takes diverse tones: internal (where they are used as a sharing tool among) and external (as a medium to interact with customers and indirectly help in business).
I stepped out to see a team of people seated under the shade of a tree and their discussions centered around outsourcing in India, e-governance, the benign and the blunder side of globalization on the common man, etc.
By this time, the buzz of excitement shifted to the corridor where sessions for the startup enthusiasts were organized. There was a talk on a health care product, the startup team had come all the way from Chennai to deliver the talk. I was looking for some big bang stream of ideas but there was again the regular gyan delivered though garnished to cover areas of customer centricity, company profiling, people and cash flow.
The next talk was by Hari, an aspiring social entrepreneur who shared his idea of a Web NGO. Though his words did vocalize a great idea, of beading society, entrepreneurship and technology to deliver the basic health care facilities to those in the bottom of the pyramid but somehow it lacked the airwave of conviction.
(Hari delivering his talk.)
It was time for lunch by now and food was pretty good, simple desi food. All the participants relished the hot pooris, gobi manchurian, mixed veg curry, fried rice, normal rice, sambar, papad, salad, gulab jamoon and lots more. It was fun to see few participants from abroad interacting actively with the team members of a collective that delivered lots of sessions on food and eateries in Bangalore.
Then there was a session by a techie who works for a software firm in Bangalore, which I attended when it was half way through. I jumped into this presentation, as the topic was debatable: 'Why is my next start-up not going to be in India?'. The topic was made catchy to stimulate the crowd to come out with their point-blank opinions. The crowd consisting of some eminent persons from academia, few students from IITs and other top engineering schools, and rest others bombarded the presenter with a quiver of questions. The techie had regular answers such as 'How many Ph.d's does India produce in a year ?', the deficiency of attitude and curiosity for research and development in spines of Indian universities, etc. The focal points supporting his premise of not investing in a startup in India are lack of research and development and formation of a competent team. I agree to a fair extent that these problems do exist but in spite of that in the last three or four years there has been surge in the domain of industry related research and development, typically among graduates from the top engineering schools in India. Also, I strongly believe that if a product company visits any of the top engineering schools in India in the first five days of the placement season, there is definitely no dearth of talent. This topic was really an interesting one but because of stringent time schedule, this discussion continued outside the room, in the lawns leaving the stage for Britta.
(The techie in action, sorry I forgot his name.)
Britta, a technical research scholar from Germany, presently in Bangalore gave an interesting talk on a decentralized search engine, Faroo, that implements web search based on Peer-to-Peer technology.
(Thats Britta with her talk on Faroo.)
The next talk by Sean Blagsvedt of creating a jobsite, Babalife for those who cannot read and write English hailing from the lower strata of the society was chic smart. It combines a blog and photo/video sharing and uses it as a social networking to provide employment to driver, cook or a housemaid. Sean is from Oakland but has made Bangalore his home and works with Microsoft Research India team, creating interesting solutions in the mobile space, especially those related to emerging markets. Any blind guess why Sean named his site as Babalife with a lot of emphasis on the word 'Baba' ?
(Sean with his energetic rapid fire presentation.)
There were some shutterbug addicts in the camp and some great moments were captured through the lens. I captured some of the fine moments and Lavanya, a friend of mine gave me company in clicking a few of these.
(Lavanya in per pose as a photographer.)
There were lots of discussions going around in the corridors and live blogging with loads of exuberance. Few even spoke passionately about second life, virtual dates, etc.
Evening had already set in and one could hear the birds’ tweedling in the pristine lawns and amidst the greenery surrounding IIMB campus. My eyeballs were rolling and suddenly it rested on these three creative thinkers reminding me of my college days.
It was time to wind off but as everyone knows Bangalore and music is synonymous, so there was a medley of music and technology. Jayanth made a live demo of how to run a virtual band, and displayed the gathering, his wizardry with the octave notes on his guitar strings.
(Thats Jayanth on guitar.)
The Wi-Fi in the campus had some problems on Day 1 but by Day 2 everything was sorted out and there were lots of people busy with their laptops. The space arrangement and management, furniture, desi lunch, electricity, and other paraphernalias for the unconference were all well arranged. Inspite of limited funding, the arrangements for water, some snacks, BarCamp t-shirts were fair to middling.
There were lot many participants from foreign lands and from India, BarCamp fanciers came from Chennai, Pune, Delhi, Mumbai, Durgapur, etc. As the curtains were put down, it was declared that Bar Camp Bangalore 4 (BCB4) has been the best and the biggest ever Bar Camp in India so far. So till we all meet again at the next event, its Vous Revoir.

Cross posted at Desicritics.

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At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice write up sir.. Would love it if you add the tags bcb4 and barcampbangalore4.. Easy to aggregate blogs and pictures.. :-)

I couldnt talk to you much this time.. So i'll probably catch you at the next bloggers meet?

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hey...excellent and extensive coverage of day 2. Nice one.

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Dr. Gonzo said...

Brilliant pictures. Loved the feel that you left at the end especially with the coffee cup.

Feel really bad that I couldn't attend the event now. Really bad! More power to your camera!

At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey very good writeup. and guess like you didnt miss much.
I have to appreciate the fotos. Real good ones.

At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must appreciate your style of writing. I was thr at the camp on both the days and your write up really made me go back to that time.

Wonderfull !!!
Keep it going man.


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