Gathering of geeks and techies in Boston this weekend: BarCamp Boston 5, April 17-18

The annual gathering and unconference for Boston area geeks and techies is coming up this weekend. BarCampBoston 5 is happening at MIT’s Stata Center on Saturday, April 17th and Sunday, April 18th. As of earlier today there were already 505 people registered to attend. Looks like this could be the biggest BarCampBoston in the five years it’s been happening! On Saturday, the event happens 9am-6pm and Sunday it happens 9am-5pm.

How BarCamp Boston works

There is no registration fee, but you don’t just attend a BarCamp — you can participate in discussions, host a session of your own, or join in another cooperative event.

Topics may include: technology, marketing, cooking, startups, sci-fi, social media, gadgets, communities, design, hardware hacking, UI design, entrepreneurship, AJAX, open source software, art, robotics, mobile computing, bioinformatics, RSS, social software, programming languages, the future of technology, and more.

To see the current list of suggested topics, check out the BarCamp Boston wiki. Each morning before the day’s event, people go to the big schedule board and grab a room and time slot for the talk they’d like to help lead a discussion about.

Explore the website to learn more about …

Got a few hours to spare? Scheme with me at the registration + info desk

Once again I’ll be helping run the registration and information desk at BarCamp Boston. If you’d like to help out (and meet lots of people!) — send me an email or send me a direct message on Twitter. The times I need the most help are in the morning (8:45am-10am) and mid-day (12noon-3pm) both Saturday and Sunday.

Register for BarCamp Boston 5

Register for BarCamp Boston on the event page. There’s no required registration fee; but everyone is asked to contribute what they can to help offset costs. You can make a donation online when you register or in person at the event.

The Boston Globe and 140 Seconds on Twitter

WBUR (via their Twitter account) noted that Alex Beam wrote an article about Twitter in The Boston Globe. I knew it was going to be an amusing read based on the tweet:

“Boston Globe columnist slams Twitter: http://tinyurl.com/5msvs4” (@wbur)

In case you haven’t seen it yet, Twitter is a micro-sharing website where you describe in 140 characters or less what you’re up to. You can send and receive messages via SMS (text messages) on your phone, through Twitter’s website and third-party applications such as Twitterific. If you want to talk “with” someone on Twitter, you add @theirusername to the front of the message and it shows up in the person’s replies tab. This was a feature that was added several months after Twitter first launched in 2006 based upon how people ended up actually using the service. That’s been the consistent story for Twitter — it’s definitely evolved beyond “I’m making an omelet for breakfast” to now include sharing info about late breaking news, making plans with a group of cohorts, etc.

I was one of the first users of Twitter — I signed up in August or September of 2006. (Twitter briefly noted your sign-up date but didn’t keep that tidbit around for very long, for whatever reason.) I wasn’t expecting to really use it much. At the time there weren’t a lot of users and even if there were — who cares what I’m up to?

Fast forward to today and I have 1,877 followers. That’s not the 3930204932 follows (only a slight exaggeration) that people like Robert Scoble or Chris Brogan have — but it’s still a decent number of people who want to receive my brief alerts. For me, the tipping point happened at South by Southwest Interactive in 2007 when a bunch of us used Twitter to quickly make meetup plans. A few months later I was interviewed on CNN talking about using Twitter. They definitely took the “Twitter fan girl” angle on the story but it had a little more depth than Alex Beam’s article in today’s Boston Globe. Probably because CNN talked to both Twitter HQ and its users. Amazing!

I can understand Alex’s initial assessment if he was just a regular Twitter user writing about it on his personal blog. But he’s a journalist who gets paid to write about this stuff. There are a lot of people in the greater Boston area using Twitter and it would not have been that difficult to reach out to a few of us to gather more research about the article. Doing a search for “Boston” currently shows 5,357 users who have Boston noted in their name or location. (That doesn’t count people in the greater Boston area who don’t specifically note Boston as their location. I’m in Watertown, for example.) Journalists have power with their words — many people who aren’t that online savvy will read Alex’s article and dismiss checking out Twitter. I think that’s unfortunate.

If you are on Twitter and want to get alerts about local “Tweetups” — check out @BostonTweeters. You can find and follow me as @Sooz.

Podcamp returns to Boston in July

Podcamp Boston

The awesomeness that is Podcamp Boston is happening July 19-20 for year number three. I’ve helped out each year running the registration+info desk with Steve Sherlock. It’s an inspiring event. This year, a small fee ($50) is being charged to help insure that everyone who signs up is committed to going.

Beyond the participant sponsorship, Podcamp Boston is also looking for companies to step up and help cover logistical costs including the venue. Christopher Penn, Podcamp co-founder and lead organizer for Podcamp Boston found a great venue at Joseph Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School. If you’d like to help make this event happen, please do. This is a good opportunity to be visible to hundreds of social media savvy mavens and people interested in digging in and learning more. If you have any questions about the event, email me!