I started this blog post to talk about my participation in the elektro-camp in Offenburg last weekend, bu after my attendance of the “Conference for energy reform” at the Heinrich Boell foundation today made me decide to write about both and compare them.
The elektro-camp was quite spontaneously organized in a barcamp fashion, the number of participants was less than 30, there was no official schedule, we grossly defined the “program” together in the first day, and we didn’t really stick to it so strictly. The participants were really awesome, very clever geeks, all friendly, nice and modest. We all came from different backgrounds (but mainly technical). There were purely technical talks, and others more organizational, social,etc but each and every one was very interesting to me. They were all centered around the theme energy monitoring, automation and energy efficiency.
The Conference at the Boell foundation was totally different: more than a hundred participants: students, politicians, university professors, scientists, economists, lobbyists, journalists, farmers, activists, philanthropists, and there was even a dog! There were panel discussions where middle-aged men and women were talk and debating with each others and the audience just listening. Actually that’s not correct, we had a few minutes to ask 5 or 6 questions. Then what they call “workshops”, in which three persons sit on a platform in the front and talk with each others, and a moderator kind of coordinates the talk. Again at the end there were a few minutes for the participants to say a few words.
I hated the second conference. I felt like I was wasting my time, the flow of information was unidirectional and it was most of the time not interesting for me. I think such events where a few people debate about something and an audience listens to them are just obsolete. We live in an era where almost skills, information and experiences are shared in a more horizontal and peer-to-peer way.
I loved how the elektro-camp was spontaneously “planned” and “organized” and I don’t think I it’s worth the time and hassle to travel somewhere to be a passive information receiver. Fortunately, I hijacked the system and could place a short description of who I am and what I do, which resulted in very interesting and exciting discussions later, and will hopefully generate great things in the future, but today I realized more than ever that it’s the p2p events that are the best: barcamps, hackathons, real workshops…etc.