Home Science CommunicationCommunity & events In the works: SciBarCamp Cambridge

In the works: SciBarCamp Cambridge

by Eva Amsen

The official SciBarCamp website is down for maintenance. In the meantime, we’re not standing still. There is a Twitter account for SciBarCamp Cambridge, and this post contains most of the background info. We’re still looking for a venue – quite urgently at this point – so please get in touch at scibarcamb [at] gmail if you have any leads. More soon!
[exciting music and booming announcer voice]
After SciBarCamp Toronto in 2008 and 2009, and SciBarCamp Palo Alto (2009), SciBarCamp is now popping up in the UK: plans are in the works for an April event in Cambridge.
[end announcer voice]

What is SciBarCamp?

SciBarCamp is a gathering of people who love talking about science. Scientists – of course – but also engineers, entrepreneurs, writers, musicians, publishers, librarians – you name it. It’s different from regular scientific conferences because there are people from outside your field, even from outside academia. It’s different because the program is made by the participants at the event itself (see the Wikipedia article about BarCamp to catch up on the format) so the topics covered reflect the interests of the people who attend – anyone can propose a talk or discussion: your input matters.

Conversations with other participants during (and leading up to) the meeting will inspire new things to talk about – you will leave SciBarCamp having participated in discussions about topics you never thought about before, and that’s what makes it great. It inspires creativity.

History of SciBarCamp

SciBarCamp started, like many great ideas, over lunch. In 2007, I was having lunch with Michael Nielsen, who had just moved to Canada at the time, and we said “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a kind of Sci Foo event that was open to anyone, rather than invitation-only?”. And by the time we emptied our plates we’d decided that we should just organize one, so we did.When I moved to Cambridge, people here asked me if I would start a SciBarCamp Cambridge. It took me a few months to get used to living here, but suddenly, in September or so, I thought: yes, let’s do that.

When I moved to Cambridge, people here asked me if I would start a SciBarCamp Cambridge. It took me a few months to get used to living here, but suddenly, in September or so, I thought: yes, let’s do that.

Organizing SciBarCamp Cambridge are Lou Woodley, Matt Wood, Michelle Brook and myself, as well as possibly some others (updates to follow!), and we’ve received some early input and ideas from Alex Griekspoor and Attila Csordas.Below is a selection of photos from three previous SciBarCamp events. In addition to these three, there was also a BioBarCamp in Palo Alto in 2008, which was a similar sort of event focused mainly on (synthetic) biology and bioinformatics, and an ArtScienceCamp in Toronto in 2010, focused on Art and Science.

Cambridge is also host to regular tech-focused BarCambs, which in previous years have had a very scientific focus as well – in fact, the first BarCamb preceded the first SciBarCamp, so Cambridge is perhaps the true home of the scientific unconference, making a SciBarCamp Cambridge just natural.

All these events have been organized by partly overlapping teams of people. (I was involved with the two Toronto SciBarCamps and a teeny-tiny bit of BioBarCamp – I think I was only in charge of the name tags for the latter!). In a future post you’ll get a little background of all the organizers, but we need to be more, well, organized first. I’m sure you’re more interested in the where and when, right?

We’re currently in the process of finding a location so that we can really narrow down the date and start promoting. Until then, keep your (early- to mid-)April diaries flexible [insert joke about soft-cover moleskines] and stay tuned for details.
We hope to see you in Cambridge in April!

SciBarCamp Toronto 2009 (photo by me)
a precursor of scibarcamp cambridge
SciBarCamp Toronto 2008 (photo by me)

SciBarCamp Palo Alto 2009 (photo by dullhunk on Flickr)

Steve Mann’s performance at Toronto Science Festival 2009, which was the main overlap between the fest and SciBarCamp on the same day. (photo by kaythaney on Flickr)

“What was your favourite part of SciBarCamp?” – answers by participants of Toronto 2009, wordclouded by me.

Little Mars rover showing off his tricks at SciBarCamp Toronto 2008.

Rick Sacks’ performance at SciBarCamp Toronto 2008.


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