Reviving BarCamp NewsInnovation

A few weeks ago Sean Blanda, who among other cool things put on BarCamp NewsInnovation Philly in April, called and asked a good question, and it’s one I’ve been asking myself for several months. In fact, Ryan Sholin brought it up back in April.

That question was basically this: What’s next for the NewsInnovation crowd? (If you forgot or don’t know about the NewsInnovation stuff here is the genesis of the idea and some of the original thoughts behind it.)

(Update – Sean Blanda weighs in: BarCamp NewsInnovation 2, What Should Change)

There were several barcamp-style meet-ups that occurred around the country earlier this year and seemed to come to fruition with more than 200 people in Philadelphia at Temple University. Blanda says there is interest in doing another one this coming spring, which is good to hear.

Several people, too many to name, played a pivotal role in creating the synergy that became the basis for the NewsInnovation push. But it wasn’t enough. We met, we shared great ideas but we didn’t do anything substantive with those ideas. Sholin even hinted at that in a tweet the other day: @ryansholin Love the spirit of #BCNI! (#BCNI being the hash tag for BarCamp NewsInnovation).

To my fault, even the push to continue the NewsInnovation movement has since taken an unintentional backseat. It’s a shame, really, because this industry is in desperate need of solution-seekers. There is no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all solution to the problems. But the collective intelligence can certainly offer solutions and seek out organizations and individuals to try, fail and try again.

Recently, Mallory Colliflower and Lori Marie Todd showed great interest in more barcamp-style unconferences for those interested in media and its future. They are right. We need them now, and we can learn from the past.

We want an affordable alternative to the big annual conferences, with a comparable level of networking and training that you’d pay hundreds of dollars at SND, ONA, NPPA or other conferences. We propose a BarCamp-style unconference. – @loritodd

We’d love to hear feedback on other ways or ideas to establish more affordable training and networking opportunities that don’t necessarily involve staying connected through social media. Another 10,000 words post from Mark Luckie stresses the importance of real-life relationships. I couldn’t agree more, I just wish they were more affordable. – @malcolli

Whether the NewsInnovation label stays or goes doesn’t matter. Simply put, we need more venues where smart, bright, energetic and passionate folks get together and try to solve problems.

Simply getting together, talking and then sharing ideas is not enough anymore. We have to do something. Anything that happens has to be solution-based with someone willing to try it. We can’t compromise on that. We can’t afford to have one more conference or summit or whatever you call it where a bunch people get together and talk and share ideas but nothing ever happens. It’s hard to make that statement because I’m as guilty as anyone in doing that. I have to change my behavior too, and I will.

With that in mind, here are some of the ideas off the top of my head that are topical around the media company where I work. Maybe the next round of BarCamp NewsInnovation’s or whatever they are called can come up with solutions to some of them. I know the place where I work would be interested in trying solutions to any of these problems or I would seek some organization or individual who would.

What ideas to do you have? If there is a consensus I will redo the http://barcamp.org/newsinnovation page and update with ideas. You are welcome to do that as well. Who else wants to be involved? What’s the next step?

8 thoughts on “Reviving BarCamp NewsInnovation

  1. Thanks for the plug and the continued conversation! I’m just as guilty as the rest of the bunch as far as the ‘all-talk-no-action’ idea swap at events. The easy part is gathering and discussing. The hard part is action in the form of innovative ideas and taking risks. You’ve motivated me to change my ways too in whatever it is we try to concoct for our local journalism community.

  2. Pingback: BarCamp NewsInnovation 2, What should change? - SeanBlanda.com - A blog about all kinds of media

  3. Hi, Mallory. Thanks for the comment and the initial push on the barcamp idea. If you’ve never been to one they are great and a lot of fun. Look forward to collaborating with you as this effort moves ahead.

  4. Daniel – I think the hackathon idea is great idea. At BCNI Chicago a group of folks were all over that but ran into time issues because they didn’t really get after it until near the end of the day. Good idea, and thanks for weighing in and being a part of this.

  5. We’re looking at a second GonzoCamp in Seattle in November, then looking to stage it in a handful of locations around the U.S. in 2010. The tentative tagline is “Programming the future of news” and it’s all about less talk and more do. The first Gonzocamp produced three prototypes of working projects and, while they haven’t changed the world, it was exciting to see what a few teams could accomplish in just a few hours.

    We’re tweaking the format for the Nov. 13 event in Seattle. But the crowd mix will be the same: journalists, programmers, entrepreneurs, designers and students. I think it’s important to extend the conversation outside the journalism echo chamber and, as we found last time, non-journalists are interested in solving some fo these problems, too.

    We’d love to explore ways for BCNI and GonzoCamp to partner for future events. More information here: http://www.gonzocamp.com.

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