Mind Camp 2.0 Observations

Seattle Mind Camp 2.0 ended yesterday. It was 24+ hours of geekery with 200 people. Congratulations to the organizers and attendees; it was a great event and I can’t wait to be involved in the next one (I’ve been an organizer for both of them). People were primarily from Seattle. The video that I just watched on youtube captured some of the energy.
It was like many geek conferences, but because the talks came from the heart there was more of a conversation with less focus on the speaker. The people in the audience were at the same level as the speaker. The wiki is slowly being populated as people add their session notes. Two of the most interesting pages on the wiki are the attendees responses to the following questions: “What are two things you’d like to discuss at Mind Camp?” and “What would you like to learn about at Mind Camp?”. They provide a real insight into the breadth of content the attendees both wanted and had to offer.
Here are some of my observations about the event:

– The event went incredibly smoothly and really built upon itself from last year. Both the attendees and the organizers were better prepared than in previous years.
– Most of the startups were being built in Ruby. AJAX and Ruby on Rails were two of the top technologies that people came to learn about.
– We were in an old school and the rooms were small. This equalized the talks and led to the speaker becoming more of a facilitator of the discussion than a broadcaster.
– Despite the event being well blogged there were very few “announcements” at the conference. I think that this conference was more about connecting than broadcasting.
– Stories about starting your own company or blog were the best received. Product demos were not very well appreciated, but short product demos that then dove into the architecture and story of the company were very well received. Probably the best session I attended evolved from a description of the company to the architecture of their system to a general bull session on the pitfalls of starting a company (and getting funding).
– People appreciated the niche content that took them beyond their everyday technologies.
– There were usually at least two things at each hour that I wanted to go attend (especially during the night sessions). I was generally late to sessions because I was talking with someone in the hallway.
– Talks started on the hour. The 45 minute sessions with 15 minute break was a good balance between session length and letting people meet other people in the hallway.
– Werewolves was probably the single session that I heard mentioned and referenced the most throughout the event. At the first Mind Camp it was a great bonding experience for everyone. That game breaks down barriers very quickly.