BarCamp Tampa Bay: Tech anti-conference returns

BarCamp Tampa Bay, the popular anti-conference for technology whizzes returns to Tampa on October 5th.

Now in its 12th year, the event is a day of crowdsourced presentations on the latest in emerging technology.

Under the unique and freewheeling approach, no speakers or subjects are pre-determined in advance of the day. Instead, the format is “you show up, you sign up” to present on a first-come, first-served basis, says Ken Evans, a board member with TechNova Florida, the nonprofit that organizes BarCamp Tampa Bay and Ignite! Tampa Bay.

They want free-flowing natural talks, not something stiff and rehearsed.

“If people show up with a canned presentation that they have done several other times, no one cares,” Evans says. “We want people to come and share organically the technical knowledge that they have. In fact, there are two telltale signs you are not going to get good attendance at your talk. One is if you show up in a suit. Two is if you show up with a really well polished PowerPoint. It’s anti-everything else you’d find at any other conference.”

The annual Tampa Bay event usually attracts a crowd of 800 to 1,200, making it one of the largest BarCamps in the country, Evans says. Coders, developers, designers, IT professionals, marketers, and other techies will present on topics such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, cybersecurity, fintech, medtech, blockchain, UX design, IoT, social media, and more. Another theme running through this year’s event is the 50th anniversary of the first message sent by Internet, a seismic development that changed technology and shaped nearly every aspect of the modern economy.

Evans expects a day of 60 to 80 presentations spread across 10 to 15 rooms. Each speaker typically presents for 25 minutes and then answers questions for another 20 minutes.

Attendees can expand their knowledge base and find a fertile networking opportunity, Evans says. People who met up at past events have launched startups together and gotten married in at least one case. Tech companies also use the event to recruit talent.

“No one’s going to sell you anything,” Evans says. “The worst thing that might happen is someone might say, ‘are you interested in working for us?’ In a tight labor market, it is interesting from a recruiting standpoint. Because you are gathering Central Florida’s best of the best, there a real lot of recruiting conversations going on here.”

BarCamp Tampa Bay 2019 runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5th at Keiser University Tampa, 5002 W. Waters Ave. An after-party will follow. Thanks to sponsorships from several prominent Tampa Bay tech companies, the event is free. Advanced registration is recommended.

For more information, including how to register, go to: BarCamp Tampa Bay

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather, and Florida's wealth of outdoor festivals.

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