|By William Azaroff on June 11, 2008 1:31 PM | Comments (6)|
What's all this about BarCampBanks? From a North American premiere in Seattle almost a year ago, we've witnessed two more in the last few months, and eight more are either scheduled, or in the planning process.
Well, maybe not exactly "planned." BarCampBanks emerge more than they are planned.
What's a BarCampBank?
It emerged from the BarCamp movement, which according to barcamp.org, is defined as...
...an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants.
It started as a technology summit, an un-conference where developers and technology geeks could share exploits, connect, and find like-minded companions to extol the virtue of open-source and emerging technologies over pizza and wine.
And then someone decided that this forum would be a perfect place to talk about banking and finance. Weird. And yet it works.
It started in Seattle
I was fortunate to learn about BarCampBankSeattle, the first North American BarCampBank soon after it was announced by the prescient organizer Jesse Robbins. I can't quite call it a decision to attend - it was more a compulsion. Somehow I knew I had to be there.
Probably some of you reading this will feel that way, too. And if so, I urge you to get yourself to one of the BarCampBanks spawning like saplings everywhere bank-geeks gather. The conversations initiated, the innovations surfaced, and the relationships developed at these organic and loose events are truly inspirational and energizing. It really is something to be experienced, and at a cost of $20-35, it's a fraction of the cost of a typical talking-head conference.
After BarCampBankSeattle in July of 2007, there was a long dry BCB spell, which wasn't broken until the last few months when BarCampBankSanFrancisco and BarCampBankNewEngland emerged. Some dedicated BCB-heads even attended both in a cross-country banking-frenzy (you know who you are, my friends).
Coming soon, in Dallas
If you've read this far and feel the need to dive in right away, your first opportunity is BarCampBankDallas planned by my co-participant in Seattle, Brad Garland. It'll take place 21-22 June at the American Bank of Texas Building in Frisco, Texas. Brad is excited about the attendees who have signed up on the wiki (each BarCampBank hosts) where people can add what they wish to contribute to make the event their own. They have people coming from in and out of the country, from banks, credit unions, and even companies like Microsoft. It should be a great conversation.
BarCamping in London
If you'll be in London this summer, you can check out BarCampBankLondon on 5 July at Sun Microsystems' offices on King William Street. London is being planned by the great blogger James Gardner, the head of innovation at Lloyds TSB. In his entry on the event's wiki, James mentions that he is interested in talking "about innovation programmes and the economic reasons why *not* to give them too much money." Intriguing.
July in Charleston
After London, look out for BarCampBankCharleston, taking place on 26-27 July at the First Federal Corporate Center in North Charleston. George Pasley is organizing, and it should prove to be a great, inaugural Southern event.
BarCampBankBC, just too many Bs and Cs
If you're on the West Coast and want to save the planet from the carbon emissions of travel to London or Charleston, come to BarCampBankBC, 20-21 September, at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in downtown Vancouver (originally called BarCampBankVancouver, who could then resist the acronym BCBBC?). I am organizing this event, along with Gene Blishen and Tim McAlpine. I am humbled and excited by the diversity of the attendee list so far.
Coming to Charlotte?
But what if you work at Bank of America or Wachovia? With the credit crunch, you may not be able to get your supervisors to pony up cash for an event with the flaky name of BarCampBank. Well, fear not, BarCampBankCharlotte is in the concept stage, and you can help make it a reality. Click through to the wiki and lend Josh Street a hand in organizing.
Stay tuned for more BarCampBanks
The other two in the nascent stage are another BarCampBankSanFrancisco, hoping to coincide with MacWorld in January 2009; BarCampBankMadison, being planned by Christopher Morris from the National Credit Union Foundation; and BarCampBankChicago, 16 July, in conjunction with the FDIC's Interagency Minority Depository Institutions National Conference.
With all the changes happening in our industry, the focus on relentless innovation, and so much uncertainty about the economy, it's a good thing that there will soon be a BarCampBank near you.
William Azaroff has been an occasional contributor to NetBanker for the past year. His duties driving Online Strategy & Community Engagement at Vancity, Canada's largest credit union, keep him from writing as often as he'd like. He blogs at azaroff.com/blog
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