A Barcamp Session Wall Application

I have thought for a long time that an on-line session wall application for Barcamps would be a great idea. I know other people have also thought this but up to now I don’t know of one actually being used. Here are my ideas on what I think would be needed to make this a viable working system. Let me know what you think.

The application would be hosted on the Barcamp web site.  Alternatively a central Barcamp site could be created where the organisors of a Barcamp could set up their event and then allow registered users of the site post sessions for that event. The benefit of having all the events registered on a single site is that participants would only need to register on a single site rather than for each Barcamp.

The organiser of the event would set up the start and finish dates/times for the event along with information on how long the sessions are to take and when breaks would be. The system would then calculate the wall based on this information.

The organisor would also be able to dictate at what times the session board would be available for participants to post sessions. This would stop people being able to post sessions ahead of time.

Organisors would have overall administration of the event session wall to be able to move a session on the board or to remove a session. Moving a session would result in a notification being sent to the person that created the session to let them know that the session has been moved and give them the ability to accept the change or move it to another session slot or to remove the session altogether.

Participants would register on the site. Participants would be asked to register before the event so that they don’t have to sign up on the day. The sign-up address would not be accessible from any menu or links on the site, the link would come in an email to the participent. The reasoning for not publishing the address is to avoid just anyone signing up for the site.

Once a participant is registered on the site they can then post sessions that they would like to host and to sign-up for any sessions that they are interested in.

Registered participants would be notified of any new sessions that are posted, moved or removed.

Registered participants would also be sent notifications a few minutes before a sessions that they have signed up for is about to start.

One of the things I have experienced at Barcamps is that there are often session times when there are multiple sessions that I would like to attend on at the same time. What the system would allow is for a participant to request a person hosting a session to see if they would be willing to move their sessions to a new time or if they would be willing to run a second session. The person hosting the session would be able to see the amount of interest in their session and either move or add a new session if the demand is there.

A participent is able to register their interest in a posted session. This will show the event organisers and the session host how much interest there is in the session. This information can be useful if the rooms that are available are quite small and there is a lot of interest, a change of session room may be in order.

Participants would also be encouraged to leave comments against a session to let others know what they thought of the session. The session host could also post links to any documents or information that was given in the presentation also.

There could also be a rating system so that participants could rate the session that they have attended. This could lead to an awards ceremoney at the end of the event for the most popular sessions.

Sessions would have tags associated with them which would allow participants to filter sessions that they may or may not be interested in.

The application need not be just web based but could also have mobile phone applications.

How about using the session wall application in a code retreat weekend as an example application to build?

As I have mentioned at the start, I know others have had the same idea of a session wall application and so this application may already be out there and available and may have a lot more functionality than I have mentioned in this post, however, do let me know what you think and if you have any other suggestions for this kind of application.

I look forward to hearing from you with your ideas and comments. Let’s see if we can make this happen.

2 Responses to “A Barcamp Session Wall Application”

  • Paul Freeman says:

    BarCamp London 9 used a digital grid which was written in Ruby and hosted on Heroku so it could scale as needed during the event. Worked really well particularly as the event was spread over 3 floors with some 12 or so rooms so going back to the grid for each event. Since they opened up the code we did consider using it for BarCamp Liverpool, but for a smaller event a physical grid is much better we felt.

    The code is open on github at: https://github.com/geeksoflondon/grid4rails

  • admin says:

    Thanks for that. I think having a digital board would really benefit most of the events I’ve been to. When you have 20 or 30 people trying to get close to the board and when there are lots of changes going on or last minute postings it can be hard to keep up.


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