What is a BarCamp you might ask yourself or at least I did when I first came across #coscamp. However, as usual, I love to immerse myself in new adventures and formats and therefore, decided to sign up for it.
A couple of weeks later the day came around and at 9 a.m. sharp it was time to join the BarCamp in gather.town. The first surprise was how interactive and user-friendly – and just how different – this video conferencing tool worked.
Gather.town uses a gamification approach which allows you to walk through an online world as a little avatar. Whenever you walk past someone else their camera automatically pops up and you can start a conversation with them. Quite like in the real world, this feature allows for small conversations to arise naturally in between the main talks.
The BarCamp I joined, #coscamp, was organized by the “Content Strategy” students of FH Joanneum in Graz. They set up the meetings, took care of all the administrative tasks and created our “world”. At this point, a huge thank you is in order to all the students who worked on the project. Despite the challenging circumstances, as usually coscamp takes place as a real-life meeting, they did a wonderful job in creating an open atmosphere that invites exchange.
Back in gather.town, the first meeting started at 10 a.m. after we had some time to find our way around our meeting rooms. We were gathered in a zoom meeting for the official welcome. Afterwards everyone could propose topics to hold sessions on which were collected in a list. Next, everyone who suggested a session topic had the chance to do a little pitch to explain what the session would be about in more detail.
Of course, I didn’t want to miss out on the full experience and therefore, I suggested a session on “The future of audio”. Since I didn’t have a full presentation prepared on the topic (as I wasn’t aware of the general structure of a BarCamp) I wanted to hold my session as a discussion. Finally, all approximately 90 participants could vote for their favorite sessions and based on the ranking a time table was created.
Luckily, my topic made the cut (to be honest, everyone did as we had fewer topics in total than there were slots) and was scheduled for the second session slot. Next everyone was released back into gather.town to join their first sessions.
The first session I picked was on “Studying content strategy vs working as a content strategist”. Since I didn’t really have the full picture about the degree and the position I found this to be a great start into the day. After that my own session took place and I really enjoyed chatting with other marketers and strategists about their thoughts, experiences, ideas and visions. The best thing about the session in my opinion was how open and ready everyone was to share their thoughts. The atmosphere created by the hosts as well as the participants themselves were super friendly. This really was the essence of the convention along with the flexibility of the session planning.
I joined the third session a bit late, since I got stuck in a discussion about podcasting with one of the participants of my session. Nevertheless, it was great to get some insights on the organization of the event itself and to get to look behind the scenes in the session “organizing an online event”. After that we took a lunch break to join again an hour later.
The remaining two sessions of the day were on SEO and on wether best practice examples are usually based on comprehensive data.
Since I try to pay attention to SEO whenever I write a piece of content it’s always great to get input from SEO professionals who work on SEO strategies fulltime. Therefore, I really enjoyed getting those insights in the 4th session of the day. For the last session the discussion on t”he validity of best-practices” was a great choice as it was also quite inspiring. Especially because we didn’t really reach a conclusion, however, just discussing the topic with such experienced marketers helped me to gain a larger understanding on the topic at hand.
At 3.45 p.m. all participants gathered again in a zoom meeting for some quick feedback and final words. Importantly, as I have learnt, BarCamps are always very authentic live experiences. Therefore, none of the meetings a pre-plannend or recorded for consumption afterwards. Not even the organizers themselves know what to expect in a BarCamp day.
While the whole conference felt quite long due to the different kind of topics discussed and the variety of people met, I really enjoyed my first BarCamp experience at #coscamp. And let me emphasize that again: I met so many open-minded and incredibly inspiring people that I was definitely happy to sacrifice my Saturday for the event. Especially the possibility to have one-on-one talks in gather.town really enriched the experience. The resources shared with the group also reached from first-hand experiences up to concrete job offers.
My main take-away from the event was, however, that not only everything that happens at BarCamp, stays at BarCamp (except for the odd blogpost, like this one) but also that anything can happen at a BarCamp. Since there is no predefined format for any session, some hosts decided to have an open discussion and others prepared a proper presentation. Either way, each session is priceless in itself and I am looking forward to implementing my learnings in my daily business.
By the way: Here is another blogpost about #CosCamp where you can clearly see again how different the experience may be depending on the talks you join. Definitely worth a read as well: https://nureinblog.at/9440-content-strategy-camp-2021-coscamp2021
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