What a great couple of weeks for the tech scene in Madison! The Forward Technology Festival which included High Tech Happy Hour, the Forward Technology Conference, and a Capital Entrepreneurs open house, was an awesome display of Madison's technology community coming together to showcase itself.
The bookend for the festival was BarcampMadison which I helped organize. It's the kind of event that never really comes together until it starts so I was never bubbling with confidence. But that's why it was such a proud moment for Madison. The folks that turned out self-organized, participated, taught and listened. They demonstrated that there is a active and vibrant tech community working on some very cool projects.
We estimated that there were around 100 participants. A great showing for a sunny Saturday in August. With seven simultaneous session tracks and seven time blocks, we had nearly 50 presentations. Most of which were driven by group dialog and discussion. Topics included "Bootstrapping your company", all-things Drupal, "Intellectual Property 101", "RFID green shed", "Making fortune cookies", "DIY Liqueurs", and "Building your own search engine".
My best memories from the event included the interest level in the community related sessions. The guys from Sector67 had overflowing session rooms when they talked about their emerging hacker/maker space in Madison. And there was a big turnout and active discussion around how to reboot the web608 group. These are both great indicators for the demand in Madison to continue to grow and evolve community organization among technology enthusiasts.
Another great memory was the lightning talk session at the end of the day. With the help of some beer - sponsored by our friends at Urban Land Interest - we had rapid fire demos of projects and business that folks were working on. Anyone could get up and talk for five minutes and it generated a lot of great discussion and laughs. A terrific way to end the day.
And it would be a colossal mistake to forget our sponsors. Through their support - which ranged from financial assistance to free access to office space - we were able to create an easy, walk-in environment where campers could simply focus on learning and sharing for the ultimate price of FREE. Thank you to...
- Urban Land Interest
- Michael Best & Friedrich
- 2XL Networks
- Safe Bridge Solutions
- Warner Integrated Solutions
- Madison Coworking Community
- Broadcast Interactive Media
- Accelerate Madison
- AY Software
- C2 Graphics Productivity Solutions
A personal thanks to the other BarcampMadison organizers... Phil Crawford, Greg Tarnoff, Brad Grzesiak, Andrew Shell, Preston Austin, Jonathan Yankovich. These events never happen without a lot of volunteer work.
If you're looking for more artifacts from the event, check out the Flickr group as well as our Milwuakee friend, Pete Prodoehl who collected a lot of video and audio footage. If you missed the Madison event, make plans for BarcampMilwuakee, October 2nd and 3rd!