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Sunday, October 10, 2010

BarCamp Singapore 6 at The National Art Gallery Singapore

This weekend, I made my way to The National Art Gallery Singapore for BarCamp Singapore 6, i.e. the sixth BarCamp in Singapore. I had been half-hearted to attend, and even more half-hearted to present. But eventually, I packed in my trusty ol' MacBook Air "Aironaut" and made my way down the former City Hall at Fullerton Road.

A "BarCamp" is an informal conference where anyone can speak on their topics, and attendees can vote on who they want to listen to. However, given the shortage of speakers in Singapore, almost everyone who wants to speak will eventually speak, even if he gets no votes. Oh wait, this is Singapore democracy...

Longer BarCamp, more sessions
What made this BarCamp Singapore special was that it was held over two days instead of the usual one day. With sessions held every half hour between 12pm-6pm, that amounted to a whopping 96 sessions! As usual, about half of them were tech-related, but there were just as many that covered other subjects, like "Why buildings hog so much energy" and "How to be a successful author in Singapore".

The venue: The National Art Gallery Singapore (former City Hall and Supreme Court of Singapore)
The National Art Gallery Singapore itself was quite chaotic, since there was an open house this weekend. As a result, not only did BarCamp attendees and Art Gallery visitors have to squeeze past each other, but there was the occasional interruptions from young children and old seniors during the presentations.

But BarCamp Singapore was purposely held during this time to (a) take advantage of the facilities when they're publicly available, and (b) to let members of the public become aware of BarCamp. (b) was moderately successful, with some members of the public peeking in initially out of curiosity, then staying for a session or two.

Post-session voting of speakers/topics
This BarCamp also allowed attendees to vote for their favourite speakers after each session. Voting was carried out through Twitter, apparently as a wide-scale beta test for someone's new web service. My gripe with this was that, for some bizarre reason, "retweets" were not counted as votes. (My other gripe was that voting was done on Twitter exclusively, so if you don't tweet, you don't have a voice. (Oh wait, Singapore democracy...)

I liked the new concept of extending BarCamp Singapore to be more than one day. From previous BarCamps, I've noticed that there would be a few sessions that unfortunately didn't garner any votes and were thus left out. But I'm sure attendees would still benefit from those sessions. So I think this was a good idea.

But I'm not so hot on the post-session voting. And I'm not complaining because I'm a sore loser who will miss out on winning the iPad. I think its voting mechanics are flawed fundamentally and a manual count should be considered, especially if the vote counting system is still under testing.

Damn, I keep forgetting, Singapore democracy...

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