Report on the Rewired State: Rewired Culture Event

On Saturday (!) I attended the Rewired State: Rewired Culture event which was held in the Guardian offices in London. I went to this meeting on behalf of UKOLN’s DevCSI work which “is about helping developers in HE to realise their full potential, by creating the conditions for them to be able to learn, to network effectively, to share ideas and to collaborate, creating a ‘community’ of HE developers which is greater than the sum of its parts“. UKOLN has always had a role to play in engaging with the wider public sector community. When I started work at UKOLN in 1996 the focus was on the library sector, including the British Library and public libraries (back then we had a post dedicated to supporting public libraries). Over the years that remit grew to include museums, libraries and archives. Though our involvement with the Strategic Content Alliance (SCA) we have also strengthened our links with public sector and related organisations including BECTa, the BBC and central government departments.

The Rewired State: Rewired Culture event therefore provided an opportunity for the DevCSI team to strengthen its links with developers who have an interest in development work which can enhance access to cultural heritage resources. Unfortunately my colleague Paul Walk, who had initially booked to attend the event, was unable to make it. I attended instead and, as I am not a developer, took part in the event’s Unconference rather than the Hackfest. I have summarised my thoughts on the day on the DevCSI blog and a Twapperkeeper archive of the #rsrc tweets is available,so I’ll not repeat those observations here.

Hackfests, Mashup Days, Hackfests, Unconferences, …

Although I found the event useful and enjoyable, I sometimes wonder about the growth over the past few years of Barcamps, Unconferences and similar events.

I attended my first Barcamp, Bathcamp, which was held in Bath on the weekend of 12-13 September 2008 (and I should add that I cheated, returning home on the Saturday night and not camping as most of the geeks did). Since then I’ve attended a number of the Bathcamp evening events which Mike Ellis and colleagues have organised. I’m particularly looking forward to the Bathcamp being held next Wednesday, 7 April, which is being ‘curated’ by Matt Jukes. The evening’s theme is ‘Data Driven‘ and will provide an opportunity to here from a number of gurus who are engaging in Linked Data development activities.

Such events provide valuable networking and development opportunities, which I welcome. I also try and contribute to the events, having spoken on “Web 2.0: Time To Stop Doing And Start Thinking” at Bathcamp 2008 and another on “This Year’s Technology That Has Blown Me Away last July.

But why do those involved in (certain aspects of) IT spend their leisure hours learning more which helps their day job? And is this healthy?