I’ve just come back from a weekend in Liverpool helping organise and run OggCamp, the biggest Free Culture community event in the UK. While I can’t say for sure that it had the highest attendance of its 5-year run (numbers have been pretty much stable for the past 3 years), there’s several ways in which I think it was the best.
OggCamp is an “unconference”, meaning most of the schedule is decided on the day, and the sessions are delivered by the attendees. We also have a scheduled track covering topics including:
- Privacy & Mass surveillance
- Creative Commons music
- Physical and digital computer security
- Open source operating systems for cars
- Opening up book publishing
OggCamp is a free event organised and run by volunteers, and as such those speakers to are scheduled talk for free as well. Having speakers in our community willing to deliver professional-quality talks on such a range of topics is one of the things that made this event great.
That’s not to mention the unconference talks which included:
- Managing open hardware projects on Github
- Ubuntu for phones vs Firefox OS
- Minecraft hacks
- A game of Werewolf
- Quad- and tri-copters
- Lots, lots more
When you’ve organised a 2-day event with no schedule, there’s always the prospect of people turning up and no talks being offered, so having such an amazing community who come every year and make the event what it is was fantastic.
The final thing that made this OggCamp amazing was the support from our sponsors and community. This year, we introduced a pay-what-you-want system where, if people wanted, they could donate to the event when they signed up for their free ticket. This proved to be massively successful, and led to our community being our biggest single cash sponsor. On top of that we had a huge amount of support from companies such as Bytemark and Canonical, which meant that we could provide a really fun experience for attendees, including free play arcade machines, some excellent raffle prizes, and a posh venue for the evening social.
We’ve already had some excellent ideas from the community for next year. See you in 2014…