The Tao of Bar Camp

February 9, 2010

I, along with a couple hundred others, gave up my Saturday to experience what is known as a Bar Camp or an ‘unconference’ – my first ever.  At first glance it sounds like a recipe for chaos – no key note speakers and no pre-determined workshops or ‘tracks’ as they like to call them, in the NOT ‘unconference’ world.  I went in a bit skeptical, the control freak I am, wondering ‘who was going to be running the show?’

We ran the show AND it worked beautifully.

I have to admit when Nathan Gilliatt  announced that everyone in the room would introduce themselves my snarky barometer went up a notch.  It was going to take all day – but, you know, everyone played by the rules and I found it helpful and informative to know who in particular I really needed to meet.  Once again, the NOT ‘unconference’ shuns this concept – I wonder how many interesting people I have missed out on over the years?

The introductions flowed into the topic suggestions which flowed into room and time assignments effortlessly and surprisingly quickly.  Within a couple of hours, which were spent drinking CapStrat’s coffee and networking, we all were seated in our respective sessions of interest – sharing ideas, learning from one another, making great contacts and enriching our lives. 

The guiding topic was “Analytics” and the range of member-driven presentations and offerings ran the gamut from Quantivo’s Jason Rushin’s 101 Behavior Analytics primer to a very mathematically challenging Twitter session to Adam Covati’s hour-plus on Social Media. 

I’d be hard pressed to attend a NOT ‘unconference’  again after this experience. Social media is to company brochures what bar camps are to NOT ‘unconferences’ – the ability to engage in free-flow conversations spurred from user-driven content and to learn from others  – be they like-minded or not, was incredibly empowering.  While I did not contribute a topic, I had first-time jitters – I thank all of those that ‘got it’ and offered up the well spring.

The way seemed effortless and by the end of the day’s path I was tired but somehow smarter.

The path to the MarketingSmack is still: or visit us at


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