I attended a very cool gathering this past weekend. It was called BarCampBankSeattle organized by Jesse Robbins and Benjamin Black. I caught wind of this two-day event through the credit union blog-o-sphere. I have been to countless design, marketing and credit union conferences, but nothing like this.
A BarCamp is a loosely organized event where the folks that show up tape topics on a white board and have energized discussions about things they know about or are interested in. If you are in a session and you are not contributing to it or do not find it interesting, you are free to get up and move to a concurrent session.
Having never attended something like this, it's a very odd experience to wrap your mind around in advance. It was only three days before the event that Jesse secured a venue large enough to handle the growing list of attendees! It was an amazing remodelled old building in downtown Seattle. We were using the space of a stealth-mode Internet start-up. Here are some photos on Flickr to give you a feel. About 35 people attended from all over the US and Canada.
I joked about it at the conference, but I didn't really know what to tell the border guard. I could have gone the route of saying, "I'm going to an unconference and I don't know if I'm presenting or just attending." As I wasn't looking for a cavity search, I went with, "I'm attending a banking and technology conference."
I set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. and drove down alone to Seattle for the 8 a.m. start. I had physically met only one attendee in advance—Gene Blishen from Mount Lehman Credit Union. However, I had virtually met many of these people through reading and commenting on their blogs. This was fascinating to me. I felt like I knew many of these people personally and could immediately have an informed conversation with them.
It's amazing what happens when like-minded people get together to discuss topics they are passionate about. It was a pleasure to meet and talk with so many people that I "know" through their blog writing. And since I now know them even better, I have taken the liberty to fill in their new middle names and give their blogs a further plug. All essential reading for those that care about the credit union movement.
- Denise "Marketing is dead" Wymore
- Trey "You are right in front of me, but could we please use Twitter instead?" Reeme
- Wiliam "That sounds great, but I'm going to need you to change everything" Azaroff
- Jesse "Don't *$&# with me or I will crush your credit union" Robbins
- Brent "I hate to blog" Dixon
- Gene "Want to see my cooperative principles tattoo?" Blishen
- Jim "Can we talk about something other than credit unions" Bruene
- Robbie "I know way too much about my CUs financial statements" Wright
- Shari "Is it hot in here or am I just nine-months pregnant?" Storm
- Jason "Facebook is all about the hook-up" Knight
I was only able to attend the Saturday session since I had family commitments on Sunday. What a day it was. I'm sure Sunday was just as great. After a lively dinner, I hopped in the car and was home by midnight. The drive gave me a chance to listen to 8 of my 300+ unlistened-to-podcast episodes!
Just so this post doesn't get too long, I'll do another to tell you what I learned on my one day in Seattle.