There are those moments in life when you get put in your place. Times like on Saturday when I found myself sitting in a programing presentation at BarCamp Bangkok where they were talking about
Let’s put it this way. If you think Ruby on Rails sounds more like a movie than a programing language you’d be as lost as was I.
This was my first BarCamp and I really enjoyed the format. Basically it’s a huge unconference that goes like this.
9am: If you have something you would like to discuss or present put it on a piece of paper on the wall.
9 – 11am: Everyone walks around and votes for the discussions or presentations they would like to see.
11am: Those presentations with the most votes get places on the schedule for the day.
11:30am: Let the presentations/discussions begin!
What makes a BarCamp work is that everyone comes with something to share and something to learn. You pull from everyone’s experiences. At a conference were I felt way out of my league I was still able to offer a couple presentations on building Tribes (based on Seth Godin’s work) to learn and how to make presentations people will remember, (pulling from Presentation Zen) it seemed to be a hit.
But the real reason you go to any conference now a days is to connect with people. This was my first opportunity to really connect with the geeker side of Bangkok and that I did.
My favorite connection of the conference came while eating lunch and I was lucky enough to find a seat next to Kara. She had moved to Bangkok just this February from San Fransico after being laid-off by Linden Labs. Yes, the same Linden Labs that created Second Life.
Kara sold everything she had in San Francisco and came to Bangkok to travel. Running low on money she needed to find a way to use her marketing background…and found her niche in Second Life. She opened up a clothing store in Second Life (Second Life Link) and now makes enough money to live a nice life in Bangkok while traveling Asia. She has a Tribe of about 800 people. Second Lifer’s who love her virtual clothing line. She was at BarCamp looking for programmers and to make connections as she expands her Second Life business.
I asked her if she had ever thought of starting a “real” clothing line as there is plenty of opportunity to do so here in Asia to which she replied:
“I’d rather manage bytes than atoms”
She went on to explain that bytes are much easier to manage. There is no supply chain, no people, no contacts to worry about. There is just you and your customers.
“I work 10 hours a week and make enough money to live a nice life in Bangkok.”
Not bad for someone who just got laid off 6 months ago. This is what I love about down economies. Not that there is much to love about them, but that it challenges us to become creative. It makes us think deeper and different then we’ve thought before which bring about new ways of learning, living, and thinking. It’s no fluke that the Web 2.0 generation of tools started at the same time the web industry started to recover from the Tech Bubble of the late 90’s. All that new thinking waiting there for money, and look were it’s taken us. I so can’t wait to see what comes out of this latest down turn. Once we do recover I think we’ll find ourselves in a whole new global society.