BookCamp Hat Trick

BookCamp Vancouver (#bcvan10 ) marked my third BookCamp of the year (with previous editions taking place in Toronto and Halifax ). I also led sessions at all of them. So, how do they compare?

BookCamp Toronto

Toronto has the best space out of the three with open rooms that let you move around, instead of restricting you to a bolted-down seat in an auditorium (except for the one room). The day is fast-paced and I found myself wanting to be in two places at once. Participants from the Toronto edition still tend to lean towards representing a company vs completely sharing their own opinion, though…at least during the day. Toronto has the best after-camp catch up time (that was organized before the event itself) when we all go out for drinks and stay out late into the night. Everyone loosens their ties and starts talking about ideas and dreaming up new plans.

BookCamp Halifax

Small, but mighty. Halifax was the best for talking and sharing during sessions (and outside hallways between sessions). If one person presented an industry problem, someone always stepped up to talk about what they were doing as a solution or to present some idea they had as a solution. Participants frequently took over the sessions and easily switched between professional and personal hats, which was great to see. I can’t comment on the after-camp session, though, since I had to skip out early.

BookCamp Vancouver

Almost as big as Toronto, but not quite as busy. Three sessions at a time seems to be the magic numberenough variety without feeling torn. I find the auditoriums used prevented any real interaction during the sessions, though, by creating a very clear presenter/audience line. BUT the extra time in between sessions helped take down those walls. For example, after my session I spent the entire 30 min break with a group of people huddled around my laptop looking at BNC CataList mockups and asking questions. After-camp drinks for me was very much the time to catch up with old friends I haven’t seen in over a year. Overall a nice, relaxed feel to the day.

The Perfect BookCamp

In my mind, the perfect BookCamp of the future would be a nice mixture of the three from the past year:

  • spaces that don’t force defined presenter/audience roles (no stages, tables in front of presenters, or bolted-down chairs)
  • enough session options to keep me interested, but not so many that I feel the need to rush out halfway through to catch the one I feel like I’m missing (3 seems to be the magic number)
  • enough time between sessions to go off on tangents, ask questions, and generally talk about the unplanned stuff
  • attendees who are willing/able to speak their own mind and not only that of the company they represent
  • attendees who aren’t afraid to take over a session with new ideas
  • pre-planned after-camp place to mingle/grab food/have a drink so everyone knows where to go and can fit in one space