BarCamp 10

It all begins at BarCamp! I gave my first speech at the unconference in 2012 and just gave another at the tenth anniversary of this defining event.

For those who don’t know, an unconference has the same type of schedule and format as a conference, except that the conference starts with an empty schedule. If you want to give a talk you show up and put it on the board and they fit it in. The event starts at 08:00 A.M. and they say to get in early to get on the board.

I woke up at 08:30 A.M. and sent in a plea via Twitter which they accepted. I rolled in around 10:00 A.M. and got online. I received an unexpected text message. I had left my keys in the Lyft. They returned them to security and the BarCamp volunteers did a great job assisting me. My Bring Back Mystery Science Theater key ring made them easily identifiable.

I gave my speech at 12:15 PM to a filled classroom. Some people came in and stood in the back at the end. My friend Meg from Snack like a Local showed up. The audience asked some good questions. Someone asked what I listen to. Later I posted some ambient music by the Future Sound of London. I also referenced my setup using the Raspberry Pi to replace AirPlay.

Listen to my Speech

After a half hour the talk ended and we went to lunch. I always look forward to going to the Sitar Cafe. We got back just in time to attend a talk about mnemonics, but we forgot the room number.

The speaker went over some basic techniques to aide in memorization. I knew of the Loci technique because I used it successfully when I gave my talk at TEDx Philadelphia. He also covered the Major System for memorizing numbers, which I once knew and need to relearn.

We took a break and got small smoothies and big cups with chickpeas. Meg wanted to see Rana Mayez, who organized an Arab-American punk festival called YallaPunk. I enjoyed thinking about the link between startups and the punk rock philosophy. I wondered if we would throw our cups in a fit of rage! That didn’t happen, but my cup’s fate seemed sealed.

A little over a month ago I met a guy named Ajmail. I recently told him about BarCamp, and how anyone could give a talk.

“Oh cool. I’m going to give a talk about psychedelics.”

he stated nonchalantly. It went on the board in the afternoon and quickly filled up. By this point a few friends had joined our core group. We found ourselves surrounded by a bunch of people, including many we already knew, which we found funny. Ajmail played a video about psilocybin, and talked about the efforts to make psychedelics more accepted in medical contexts, including a recent study from England. He covered microdosing, a practice which has become popular in Silicon Valley. A woman asked why we keep using spiritual words to describe the experience. Perhaps she will find out. The talk had become a fun mess of several concurrent discussions. Chaos had begun to prevail. Everyone laughed and talked and laughed a little more. My cup of chickpeas fell on the floor! At least they made some cool patterns.

BarCamp had started winding down. They made closing remarks and told everyone about the after party. I decided to tag along, even though I really wanted the opposite - a hardy meal in a quiet setting. We sat at a table at the bar and tried to have a conversation. Meg offered me a coffee covered cricket and I almost ate it before realizing that she meant it seriously. I’ll stick to hemp seed for easy protein!

I enjoyed the company but the party got progressively louder and louder until I could not hear anyone, and conversation became pointless. I got a ride home and crashed. Another unforgettable BarCamp had ended. Psychedelic!

Update, May 2018

Ajmail Matin contracted me to write the mobile platform for his startup. After three months of work done in good faith and in the worst of my eye pain I made it clear that I could not work until I got paid. He disappeared. This has nothing to do with BarCamp, but it does have to do with a person featured in this article. Please take note.