In late November I spoke at Startup BarCamp in Sydney. The topic was about the kind of personal trade-offs & choices we make when choosing to work in a startup.
These choices are not always immediately obvious when you go into a startup. However, the number of broken relationships and partnerships amongst my acquaintance in the startup community does seem to be higher than in the general population.
It is worth considering how to manage these trade-offs going into the startup, rather than waiting for the inevitable and dealing with the fallout.
Again I am struck by how much progress we have made in building a real community amongst geeks, start-up people, entrepreneurs, technologists, thinkers, activists and web folks in Sydney. Community & collaboration based events like this bring us all together to share ideas and enthusiasm.
We are getting to the stage where many of us know each other both online and in real life. Between @STUB tweetups, Silicon Beach Sydney drinks and BarCamp the sense of familiarity and friendly community has definitely grown.
A really nice feature of the day was the number of families who attended & the very cool kids who presented sessions. The sessions branched out from pure technology or business focus to include whimsy such as origami and paper aeroplane creation. Check out the pictures below.
I really came away from BarCamp energised and enthusiastic about the future of technology in Australia. Funnily enough I also won a prize (a nice bottle of scotch) for something too (there’s a long story about that – but too long to go into here).
Do not forget that BarCampSydney5 (#bcs5), the recession edition, is on Saturday 27 June 2009.
BarCamp is an ad-hoc unconference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment”. BarCamp is an intense community event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. Anyone with something to contribute or with the desire to learn is welcome and invited to participate.
The BarCamp motto is: No spectators, only participants.
According to Jodie Miners, one of the un-organisers, there’s over 170 people registered to attend, lots of great sponsors and a great new venue.
Apparently Jodie’s planning a talk on her current passion, Google Wave, & is hoping that a bunch of people will get together to do a super session on Google Wave.
I’m thinking of doing something about Twitter Apps – the good, bad & indifferent or maybe something else (depends how I feel).
Any potential sponsors should get in touch with the the un-organisers and let them know via email.
One innovation that I’m really keen on for this Barcamp is the Think Tank room. The Think Tank room is a small room with no projector and no tech – just enough room for a small group of people discussing ideas. And what better ideas to discuss than ideas about the future. For some more background on this idea check out the Barcamp Sydney blog.
Having recently seen the film, I’m now reading the comic novel Watchmen. It is the kind of fiction that really gets you thinking about many things. A great quote from the book is:
The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking … The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If I had only known, I should have become a watchmaker. – Albert Einstein
It picks up on some themes that have arisen in a number of ways since the GFC. Primary among these is a desire for community and new ways of doing business that are rooted in humanity and authenticity.
We are seeing the moral, intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of the old ways of doing business. We no longer want a business world where crazy virtual assets can be created and drive the entire world to the brink of economic ruin. We are amazed that private companies (like AIG) can accept government hand-outs to stave off complete collapse and still pay millions of dollars in bonuses to the very people who’ve brought us to this crisis point & victimise other workers who did their jobs.
In essence we are seeing a complete failure of leadership, where business managers consider only short term gains and apply short term incentives. And because of this short term focus the triple bottom line is often just a joke or a box to tick as a matter of form. Thus important issues like the future of humankind and our planet are not seen as the proper province of business. Business is seen as only responsible for delivering short term gains to shareholders.
And, just as Einstein said, the solution to this problem lies “at the heart of mankind” and it is because our world has changed but our “way of thinking” has not changed with it. One of the problems with the Wall Street bail-out is that we are still desperately trying to hold on to the old world that is passing. Organisations and institutions that are no longer viable need to be allowed to fail.
But I see signs of hope in many places in spite of the gloom. A great example of this was Bar Camp Canberra #2. It was a collaborative gathering of diverse people who are interested in technology.
It was a bunch of really smart people ranging from mid-teens to over-40s and beyond. It was a gathering where people questioned the way we’ve done business and technology up until now.
Above all it was a gathering of hopeful and optimistic people who are working to build new things in new ways. If there’s a BarCamp near you I recommend dropping in – you can find out about them at barcamp.org. Some other interesting artifacts from BarCamp Canberra are: