25 April 2016

Lessons I learnt being a planner for Barcamp Bangalore


Nine years is a long time. And being part of the planning team of Barcamp Bangalore has been a satisfying one for me. I have met so many people who have done such amazing stuff in their lives, each one of them taught me different things. The interacting experience with so many folks also taught me a lot.   This experience was practically like being a part of a startup where each member is a CEO,having equal responsibility and a say in how things work.

Along with these learnings,  I also got to scratch my itch with various  technologies. I learnt PHP, Wordpress, MediaWiki, HTML5, Android, Python, Flask, Google App Engine among with various technologies that we tried to integrate into the event to make it smoother. I know it’s hard to keep things crisp, but here are some of my thoughts

  1. Never be afraid to put out your ideas and debate them : There are no geniuses in the world. Everyone thinks and often shoots down his own ideas for very silly reasons. Often these are the ideas the world needs. But beware, you should debate the idea, not the man.
  2. You just got to hang in there : There is no reward for perseverance and giving up early is perhaps the number one reason for failure. There was a time when we were struggling to keep Barcamp Bangalore going but being with friends and constant  trying made it happen.
  3. Giving is a joy. Reward might come in unexpected ways : I worked as a planner because I wanted to give back. I wanted to have a community in Bangalore which really cared about technology and want to make it work for the good. I got my rewards in more than one way --- like making so many friends who are truly passionate about technology. I got to try out so many different technologies which were put live out in the world. Besides,  my last two jobs also had a connection with Barcamp Bangalore.
  4. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses : As a planner, I learnt that every person has his own strength and weakness. So many different folks are part of the planning team and each one of them does a part of the work which is critical. If anyone is missing, that would make it really difficult to fill in their shoes.
  5. Sometimes you have to step up and fill in where others are lacking : Though each one has his or her own strengths, when working as a team sometimes you have to fill in for the folks who are not able to finish their tasks. Helping everyone is critical for the team to work well.
  6. Always give credit to folks whenever due : It is so very important to give credit to folks whenever  due. Often a small gesture is worth more than you can imagine.
  7. It’s important to cut out folks who are not as interested as you are : There will be folks with different agendas and ideas, it’s important that you cut out folks so that the entire team does not feel demotivated to get things going.
  8. Harsh war of words or attacking anyone personally does no good to anyone : Often folks start using harsh words and things start going downhill. . Often, it is only a confusion or misunderstanding which can easily be cleared, but personal attack of words  change everything for the worse, leaving no room for recovery.
  9. It doesn't matter if you are a new guy, often all that it requires is just a small push : Sometimes we feel intimidated because the folks, who have been around for sometime,  are much more experienced or skilled. But it is important that you do whatever little that you can. It works in two ways -- establishes the fact that you can do things, and secondly, helps other folks do more because you have taken some of their responsibilities. This was very critical when I had joined the team and had no credibility whatsoever.
  10. A new guy can teach you more that you can think of. He has the skills and knowledge you may never know. It was amazing to have a team of folks which grew over time.
  11. At times you have to be impolite: Being impolite doesnt mean using harsh words and launching personal attacks. Its about trying to work around those who will not follow the rule, and try to be over smart. Such folks also make it difficult to accomplish the tasks. At these times, it becomes important  to be a little rude and tell them what they are doing is wrong.
  12. Give responsibility and also keep them responsible : Your teammates need to be given responsibility. But just making them responsible does not work well. Someone has to follow up and make sure they live up to that responsibility. You have to be rude, if they dont act responsibly.

One thing I am definite about -- Barcamp Bangalore has given me much more than what I could give back.

15 April 2016

My journey of being a planner at Barcamp Bangalore

I learnt about Barcamp Bangalore sometime in June or July 2007. I was fascinated by the idea of sharing ideas, learning about technology and talking about them as well. I attended a large lot of talks on both the days that it was there. I dont remember what all talks I attended, but they were not tied to any one technology or aspect at all. Plus everyone had equal rights to talk and you need not be that well known guy to talk about something you are passionate about. That was the best part of the entire event according to me.

Post event, I joined the yahoo mailing list and after a few days there was this call for anyone interested in planning the next one. I was excited to be part of it. A naive idiot, just a couple of years out of college, I thought wow, this going to be something. Then at the planners meet there were a lot of folks. But I remember Arun Ram, Hari, Jace a.k.a. Kiran(I found out that day), Srinivas and Keshav . I felt awesome to be able to contribute something here. It was made very clear that everyone was equal and could they would be heard.

From my blog about that day (http://the100rabh.blogspot.com/2007/10/barcamp-bangalore-07-winter-edition.html)

Soon after we left for our ways with the idea that we would be doing something good to start an ecosystem in Bangalore, which can actually make Bangalore truly a Silicon Valley.

As you could imagine, I was filled with a lot of optimism with that. We all wanted to experiment and make things better for the ecosystem. This is something I have not forgotten and keep on pushing things for the better.

I have been part of Barcamp Bangalore ever since and it has taught me a lot of things. More importantly it has kept my passion of technology alive regardless of what technology I have been working on in my day job. I could say a lot more about things I have learnt at Barcamp Bangalore but that for the next post.