Reflections on TorCamp

Overall, I found TorCamp to be an interesting and enjoyable experience. The event was well-attended, and the sessions appeared lively. The day flowed naturally, with little intervention from the organizers. There was an area along one wall with sections for each time slot in the day. Anyone who wanted to lead a session put up a sticky note with their topic, in the desired time slot. Other participants could check the ever-changing schedule and pick a session for each time slot. Participants were free to move from session to session within a single time slot, though it appeared to me that most people stayed at their chosen session until it was complete. There were also knots of people who had chosen to converse with each other rather than join a formal session. The entire event had a feeling of flow to it.

One of the main challenges was noise. The room was large and tended to echo, so sometimes the random conversations interefered with the sessions. Even the formal sessions sometimes got animated enough to interfere with each other. Another challenge was reading the topics on the sticky notes. It might have been helpful to have brief descriptions as well as titles, though that would have required larger notes.

I spent nearly all of my time in the XP Project Room, which was moderately busy. I had hoped for more participants, but the people we did have seemed to get quite a bit out of it. I think we could have done a better job of:

  1. Making ourselves known. Many people either didn’t know what we were doing, or thought that if they came over, they would be stuck in the project room for the entire day.

2. Greeting people as they entered the project room. Sometimes people would wander in, look around for a few minutes, and leave before any of us started talking to them.
3. Quickly engaging people in the process. We tended to get caught in philosophical explanations of XP, or in trying to figure out the problem domain, neither of which is as interesting as actually doing a task.

Ideas for improvement notwithstanding, I did have fun. I would definitely go to another BarCamp. Next time I’d like to attend more sessions as well as volunteer in the project room.

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