Minnebar – An (un)conference.

Minnebar LogoI’ve been waiting to attend my first (un)conference for over a year and a half, patiently watching my Google alerts each week to catch the next one. This weekend I was finally able to catch one.

An (un)conference is an informal conference designed to bring together programmers, designers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists; anyone interested in technology.

(Un)conferences or barcamps happen all across the country. They are a great place to find local talent or make connections with other people dealing with technology.

This year’s minnebar (un)conference was held at the impressive Best Buy headquarters in Richfield, MN and consisted of seven sessions covering more than 42 topics. The sessions were grouped into tracks including design, development, start ups, social media, and other. In addition, there were several empty meeting rooms where people could talk about their own favorite topic. Over 1,000 people registered, making this the largest (un)conference in the country.

The price was free or you could pay $10 as a community supporter or $30 as an even more generous sponsor. Breakfast and lunch was provided as well as free beer and wine after conference. ip-House provided everyone with a really nice notebook (spiral bound with grid layout paper) and I am now the proud owner of a very colorful cyan t-shirt. (It is the one color I didn’t have in my t-shirt collection and looks really great with my SXSW 2009 baseball hat.)

I attended several Drupal related sessions and discovered that the Twin Cities has a very active Drupal group that meets several times a month.

Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, along with Larry Jacobs from the Humphrey Institute and Rachel Smith, Director of Elections for Hennepin county, led a group discussion on electronic voting. Robert started the discussion out with "If I can order a pizza with my iPhone, why can’t I vote?" The discussion evolved from voting into different ways that technology could be used for more participatory and transparency in government. For example, at election time wouldn’t it be nice to have a mobile app that would give you a score card of an incumbent from the previous term? Or, to be able to fill out a form selecting the ideas and values that are important to you as a person and have these cross-matched with the platform of various candidates, giving you recommendations on which candidate meets your personal values and ideas?

In another session, Dr. Andrew Fleck, from Appleton, Wisconsin, talked about social networks based on Schumpter’s Hive. He described the theory behind innovative networks as well as giving working examples (the development of Linux). He wasn’t talking about FaceBook or Twitter, but collaborative, innovation networks and how innovators, learners, and interested people communicate and interact with each other.

If you are into technology, especially if you are a developer, designer, or web entrepreneur, don’t miss the next Minnebar!  You can register here for email notifications. And, if you have a topic you are passionate about, put your name in the hat and be a presenter at the next Minnebar.

*****

Special thanks to Luke and all the people who continue to make Minnebar possible.