Attending an IndieWebCamp
Attending IndieWebCamp can be an exciting, exhilarating, and inspiring experience, but it can be both helpful and more productive for first time (and even experienced) attendees to know what to expect at camp when they attend either in-person or remotely.
Code of Conduct
Just like our every day online chat and wiki interactions within the IndieWeb community, IndieWebCamps are governed by our code of conduct. Please read and understand it prior to attending.
If you have any issues or experience any problems at a camp (online or otherwise) please feel free to talk to an ally in person at the camp itself or online. In-person camps should introduce people you can talk to at the opening session and list them on the camp wiki page. Others allies are listed on the code of conduct page in a variety of time-zones and locations who can help you as well.
- 1 Attending an IndieWebCamp
We do our best to make camps as pleasant and inclusive as we possibly can. Toward that end, if you have special needs, whether physical, dietary, religious, relating to childcare, or involve other special needs you're worried we may overlook please let one or more of the organizers know as far in advance as you can so that we can can accommodate your needs. We do our best to mitigate any of these sorts of issues with inclusive planning from the start, but advance knowledge can ensure that everyone has the best experience possible.
A good idea of what happens at camps can be found by looking at the archived resources from past camps (including videos). Some of the following recent camps may provide a reasonable example of what to expect:
All prior camp schedules are listed at the bottom of the page for easy reference.
IndieWebCamps are organized as BarCamps12 or unconferences3. As such, other than generally being related to the topic of IndieWeb, sessions aren't necessarily pre-planned and do not feature invited talks.
Although the format is loosely structured, there are a few rules at BarCamps. All attendees are encouraged to present or facilitate a session or otherwise contribute to the event. This means you're assured to get something useful out of camp in addition to all the other potential proposed sessions. Everyone is also asked to share information and experiences of the event via public web channels, including blogs, photo sharing, social bookmarking, Twitter, wikis, and IRC. This encouragement to share is a deliberate change from the "off-the-record by default" and "no recordings" rules at many invite-only participant driven conferences. It also turns a physical, face-to-face event into a 'hybrid event' which enables remote online engagement with camp participants.
Typically camps span two days which are split up as follows:
- Day 1: Learn, Share, and Discuss
- Day 2: Create, Hack, and Demonstrate
Day one will usually start with some coffee and a light breakfast. It is then followed by a brief welcome and overview of the camp and some IndieWeb ideas followed by one or more short Keynote addresses of 10-20 minutes. Demonstrations of attendees personal websites usually follows. (If you don't have one yet, don't worry, you can simply introduce yourself.)
Time for session brainstorming and scheduling is then set aside so that people can think about what they'd like to share, learn, and discuss for the balance of the day. Following this there's usually a quick group photo followed by a break for lunch.
After lunch, the balance of the day is reserved for the sessions typically of 40-60 minutes that were planned earlier in the morning. These sessions are very infrequently lectures by the session proposer/facilitator to a group, but tend to be broad ranging conversations by all the participants who are interested in the topic, so don't feel nervous about needing to have something prepared to present.
In lieu of sessions, some participants may also have side conversations, write, create, or hack in hallways or adjacent spaces.
Day two is completely set aside for people to work on, hack, write, or otherwise create functionality or content for their websites. Some will build things based on what they learned or talked about on day one while others may work on things they wanted to accomplish prior to attending or build something they saw demonstrated on someone else's site. Many attendees will often help beginners to build and implement pieces of their own websites. Some attendees may decide to collaborate together on one or more projects that will benefit themselves or even the broader community.
The size and scope of a project can vary depending on the person and their abilities or the help that they can receive. Most attendees attempt to do small, incremental projects that can be started and finished in one day. Absolutely no one is judged on what they accomplish as everyone is there for fun. Often people show up without so much as a domain and leave with a reasonably functioning website that they can continue to work on long after camp has finished.
Ideally on day two everyone does something to either make a website, create something to improve one in some way, or create some sort of related project.
At the end of the day, an hour is typically set aside for attendees to give short 2-5 minute demonstrations or talks about what they accomplished for the day.
Sessions are the heart of a camp.
Unlike traditional conference formats BarCamps have a self-organizing character, relying on the passion and the responsibility of the participants. Attendees schedule sessions typically by writing on a large Post-It note or piece of paper and then placing them on a 'grid' of sessions by timeslot and conference room or space.
Session proposals typically contain the following:
- A descriptive title
- A facilitator name for a session (almost always the person proposing the session)
- A longer description about what might be discussed, brainstormed, or researched during a particular session
- A unique short hashtag that will be used to create an etherpad and other possible related resources for a session
Everyone is encouraged to submit session ideas. There isn't such a thing as a bad idea for a session. You don't need to know something about a particular topic to actually propose it, it may just be something you'd like to learn about.
If you're not sure where to start for ideas, simply ask yourself any of the following:
- What would I like my website to be able to do?
- How did xyz get their site to do something?
- I'd like to quit using social silo X? What would I need to do to replace that functionality to do that on my own website?
- What would I like to learn about this weekend?
- What could I help others to learn based on my past experience?
- Are there pages/ideas from the wiki that might benefit from a brainstorming session?
Past sessions are also a great source of ideas, and it can often be a good idea to revisit old session ideas to discuss new methods of approaching a problem, new design ideas, or new ideas that have come up since prior sessions.
Once everyone has had the chance to write down one (or even more) session ideas, everyone takes turns one at a time to place their Post-Its into slots on the session grid for particular time slots and rooms. Most often, new attendees are given the chance to schedule their proposals first. If there are similar or overlapping session proposals, session facilitators can discuss concatenating them into a single session.
Once all the proposals have been put on the schedule, attendees may often do quick shows of hands for who would like to attend particular sessions to attempt to maximize attendance to physical site spaces (ie, popular sessions should be placed into the larger rooms for each timeslot). If attendees are particularly torn between competing sessions, they can propose that facilitators move time periods in an effort to maximize attendee preference and session attendance.
Many camps will often have informal after hours drinks, dinners, karaoke, or other related bonding events which are optional and often put together by the attendees in an ad-hoc manner. Others may skip these events to play tourist in the host city.
If you expect to attend camp remotely, it helps organizers to know that you'll be participating remotely, so please RSVP to the main page for the event or add your intent to the appropriate wiki page for the event.
Both remote and in-person attendance of a camp will generally entail using the following tools. (While in person attendance has less reliance on them, it is beneficial for both during and after camp to know how to use and interact with them). It's a good idea prior to camp to make sure that you have any requisite software installed, accounts signed up for, and things working appropriately to make your camp more pleasurable and less hectic.
A large portion of IndieWeb related activity takes place on the wiki. This includes planning for and actual execution of camps and other events. Most camps will have an explicit page on the wiki with details about the camp as well as a separate schedule page for the camp.
While you may not need to be able to sign into the wiki prior to camp to participate, you will need a web browser and basic web navigation skills to be able to find the camp pages and the schedule pages. If you'd like help to sign into the wiki, please feel free to ask for help in the main IndieWeb chat prior to or during the camp and someone can assist you in doing this.
Because camps evolve in real-time, one may need to frequently refresh the relevant wiki pages for the event to get the latest information including updates on sessions and links to streaming video and audio. Many of these real-time updates are also posted in the IndieWeb chat to help remote participants know what is going on.
All session grids and schedules will be listed on the wiki as quickly as possible after they're announced. Again, these are often done in real time as camps unfold, so one may need to refresh or reload the wiki pages they're looking at to get the latest information.
More often than not, one of the organizers or active attendees will post the live streaming links into the main IndieWeb chat and someone will then quickly add those links to the appropriate wiki pages.
There are a variety of methods/ways to access the various chat channels on the wiki. Please ensure you've got at least one method to access chat set up prior to attending. Usually the simplest method is to use the web-based chat which will allow you to read and see a log of all the messages posted in real time. If you would like to interact within chat, you'll need to provide a username (something anonymous is fine if you choose) and post directly into that interface.
If you're having issues or problems of almost any kind during a camp, the chat channels can be one of the quickest ways (though not only ways) to let others know and help you get to the fastest remedy.
While optional, when attending camps either remotely or online, your best bet is to have at least one window (or client) open with the IndieWeb chat available as that is where most of the real-time notifications about activities will be appearing even before they show up on the relevant wiki pages.
Often during a camp (either in person or remote), people will document the proceedings live in the chat as they progress. During particular sessions, this active documentation moves to the custom etherpad set up for the session itself (see below), so that the session is better documented with notes, which are later transferred to a wiki page for that particular session for future reference.
Live streaming Audio/Video
Most sessions will be held using audio/video conferencing often with an audio-only mode for those that don't want to participate in video.
Depending on the local camp site sessions may be held using a variety of services including:
- Google Hangouts with livestreaming on YouTube for those who don't want to be recorded.
Usually the opening remarks, keynotes, and session planning portions of camps will have links to streaming video posted on the main page for the camp.
Most of the sessions that are recorded will have links to the archived versions posted on the wiki so that people can view or review them after the fact.
Keep in mind, as with all live events, there may be small glitches or technical problems with getting live streaming and remote participation set up and working properly. We do our best to mitigate last minute problems, but they do happen and often alternate means of video or audio participation may need to be arranged.
All individual sessions at camps should have an available etherpad. You should be able to find links to the etherpads for particular sessions listed in the schedule, though often these links may not appear until just before or just as the session begins. (Again, you may need to reload the individual wiki pages to see these updates).
Etherpad allows people both locally and remotely to collaborate online at the same time to take notes about what is happening in a session. After the session is over these pads will be archived into the wiki for future reference.
If you don't want to be recorded via audio/video means within a session (or can't for bandwidth, connectivity, or other limitations or reasons), you can often type your ideas directly into the etherpad and someone will typically read them out to live session attendees.
Past Camp Schedules
- IndieWebCamp Organizing
- remote participation
- Interesting example from the WordCamp space What to Expect