Boston's #1 Geek Unconference

This past weekend was BarCamp Boston 9, two days of presentations, people, and pizza. I attended a number of interesting and informative talks including “How Not to Rails” by @grantovich, “Intro to the Boston Tech Scene” by @JayNeely, and a round of Lightning Talks led by @GrantCohoe. Listening to talks is great, but the best part of BarCamp is hosting a talk of your own.

On Saturday I fulfilled a request for “JavaScript 101” with some old Intro to JavaScript slides. The presentation is a little dry, but was a good overview of the basics for many who had never used JavaScript before. On Sunday I dug up and completed my “Condensed History of Jazz” seminar and presented it for a small but attentive audience. Lastly, I hosted a “Things You Wish You Knew Earlier” group discussion on a whim, but it ended up being (in my humble opinion) one of the more interesting talks of the weekend.

For “Things You Wish You Knew Earlier,” I asked the audience to share some advice they had learned that they wished they had been told sooner in life. The discussion started off slow but people opened up soon enough. Here’s the complete list (in rough chronological order) of topics that came up during the discussion:

  • Do work/projects outside of class in college
  • Participate in extracurriculars, learn to network
  • Ask for help sooner rather than later
  • Follow the startup business model, begin with a (real) problem and solve it
  • Be a patient leader, learn to delegate tasks
  • Let people make mistakes, it’s how you learn
  • Use your money to buy “experiences,” not junk
  • Get an unplugged hobby, take a break from technology
  • Get outside your comfort zone, don’t do one thing for too long
  • Learn “self -> us -> now” to connect with an audience
  • Build trust, formal authority isn’t enough
  • Don’t specialize, have a broader skill set
  • Think about personal finances earlier in life (401k in particular)
  • Don’t fear math, accounting can be fun!
  • Watch The Wire to learn about modern society
  • Everyone should talk to a counselor
  • Don’t stigmatize mental illness
  • Learn metacognition, think about your life to find patterns

I’m still not sure what to do with all this advice, but for now posting in online will do. Come next BarCamp I’ll definitely be hosting this discussion again.