Barcamp 2012

Barcamp 2012

Well hi there, again!

First of all, my deepest apologies for the long period of absence.

Truth be told, nothing much happened on my Linux front this past month; I’ve been taken by my other activities, that really have little to do with IT.

Now, on to the main topic.

BarCamp?

What is that?

I have no idea, really. I can only refer you to the appropriate definition, and ask for your indulgence.

What I can tell you is that for my first attendance at a Benin BarCamp ( which would happen to be the second BarCamp held in Benin), and my first attendance as a speaker, I had quite an interesting experience.

Sticking to the program

Africa being Africa, things didn’t start out quite well. I got up late!

The event took place on Saturday 22 Decembre (right after the end of the world!)in a IT school in Akpakpa (Cotonou east side), which was quite thrilling, as the students were there, attending their own classes, and popping in to have a look at what we were doing. It felt like preaching to the right crowd.

Registration for speakers was to start at 8 am, so I had to grovel and apologize, but I finally got my badge. :-)

The day was supposed to be split into several simultaneous workshops/talks but one speaker ended up hogging 2 hours (6 workshops) of talk right from the start, because he had to leave soon after. Due to the speaker’s importance in the greater scheme of things (he’s like an authority on all things internet and DNS in Africa, it seems), it was difficult for the organizers to stop him. I have no qualms with history lessons, but I mean, come on!

In the meantime…

While that very lengthy introduction to the context of internet was taking place, I had the honour of being interviewed by Africa24. I’m pretty sure I did very poorly, as I was not prepared for the impromptu quizz, and wasn’t really questioned on my presentation.

The journalist wanted to talk about my views on the Internet in general, and what the government is doing about it. I’ve expressed my opinion on the subject in this blog already. So you know where I stand.

Finally it starts

The real even started around 11 am.

I really enjoyed the concept of buzzing from one conference to the other. It felt like being in a toy shop. I won’t bore you with the list of talks, you can look it up on the barcamp site. You can however notice that most of the talks are quite serious,

So I decided to flip it.

Changing the mood

I did my presentation on XBMC and Flexget as a home entertainment solution. You’ve seen that talk in bits and pieces from some of my earlier posts. Since I had little time to present it all (20 mn) , I quickly skimmed over the functionalities of my favourite open source software (to my deepest regret), and showed a few things.

It was quite satisfying to see people laugh as I spun jokes and outrageous comments one after the other, and at the end, see them scram for their laptops to install XBMC.

All in all, it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life (right out there with gathering the courage to go talk to my futur wife).

The talks I really liked

I learned a lot through the other presentations, about what people are doing out there, what they think and how they see the futur of IT in Benin.

We had a visit from Pierre Dandjinou (AfriNIC, ICANN, and a few other important continent-wide projects). He talked about how we should see Internet and its governance. He expressed a lot of views that are similar to mine, such as the role the government should be expected to take in the promotion of Internet, and the need for Africa to take its destiny in its own hands. We do disagree on a few issues, such as the order in which Internet evolution should happen (macro-to-micro vs micro-to-macro). But his talk was very captivating, as it was impromptu and heart-to-heart.

I absolutely loved Abslom Sena‘s talk on IPTV, as it complemented perfectly my XBMC talk (synchronicity?) with the bits and pieces I hadn’t had time to talk about.

Conclusion

We concluded the talks with a little presentation on net neutrality by another CotonouLUG friend, Alfred Arouna, and a small cheering event as the lights went out (duh!) in Akpakpa.

It was a great day!

To my greatest shame, I don’t have the pics yet, but I’ll update this post as soon as I have them.