Barcamp Brighton 5

A couple of notes from Brighton’s October BarCamp. Some interesting contacts and presentations.

For my own contribution, I hosted a discussion about trends in enterprise IT. About a dozen people came, which was a perfect number. They were a mix of refugees from enterprises and individual consultants working with large companies (sometimes at one remove, on a subcontract). We talked about trends driving enterprise IT: I picked on the way Cloud is becoming tied down in long term contracts as the latest form of outsourcing, and the culture of risk avoidance – especially in regulated industries – which conflicts with the need to chance your arm in innovation. And some stuff was raised around the table about how large companies prefer to do business. A good discussion, which could have gone on longer!


Aimee Maree of OLTP Australia with her machine

Among my various encounters, Aimee Maree of OLTP Australia. I simply didn’t know where OLTP had got to since Negroponte launched the idea. But I learned that there are several autonomous OLTP initiatives including Australia’s push to develop its use among its First Nation peoples particularly, and for learning more generally in the remoter areas of that country.

I encountered some new tools to add to my Social Media armoury, not least Lanyrd which links people and events, and which interacts with Twitter. More too about the way that Twitter use has developed among the kind of community represented at Barcamp, mostly much younger than I am (!). An open source content management environment called Drupal, which I’m sure wasn’t around when I was at Barcamp 2 a couple of years ago!

What was perhaps disappointing was that this was a much lower key event than BCB2 at Sussex Uni, the last one I was able to get to. The really high profile emerging tech sponsors weren’t there: no Linden Labs (does SecondLife still have the vogue profile?), no Amazon Web Services, no mainstream media (like The Guardian tech section) and so on. And far fewer people in a smaller venue, so that the second day (which in any case I wasn’t able to get back to) had, initially at least, a much sparser programme of sessions offered.

In the nothing-new-under-the-sun category, Ian Osvald showed us how to connect up a shop-type receipt printer and use it as a stream-of-consciousness printer. For those who prefer their tweets to be print, tear off, read and bin! For me the interest was in the use of embedded control codes to provide basic rendering like bold and underline, because I remember doing this stuff way back before WYSIWYG word processing was invented so that I could do exactly that on a lineprinter (remember them?). Or, in a more sophisticated way, on a Diablo typewriter – using a Pascal program which I ported, following a change of employer, from an ICL 2980 to a Vax with literally one change to the code. One long line had to be broken at column 72. Surely the most portable program I’ve ever encountered (no, I didn’t write it).

A worthwhile day. But I missed the crowd of local undergraduate and postgrad students that packed out BCB2 on their own doorstep and shared a wide range of stuff going on at their smart leading edge.

• BarCamp Brighton 5 on
BarCamp Brighton (BCB2), ITasITis, 15 Mar 2008
BarCamp Brighton second day, 17 Mar 2008
• OLTP Australia
• Arduino (interestingly, the domain is, .cc is the Cocos Islands)

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