“People liked to stand up and talk. This is the best result I could’ve asked for”
Mark Johnson on interaction
Jon Spriggs Linux Format:
Hi Jon and Mark, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. As we sit here in the lovely Canterbury sunshine, Oggcamp is coming to an end. How was it? Jon Spriggs (JS):
It was really good − we survived it! I went into it thinking that there would be lots of little stressful moments. I don’t know if it was either the awesomeness of the attendees or how amazing the crew has been, but generally there have been no “show stopper” issues. The T-shirts arrived late, which was a bit of a concern, but they made it through the doors in the end. If anything, that made the T-shirts more desirable! LXF: Organising an event like Oggcamp isn’t an easy task, is it? JS:
It’s fair to say that this year’s event took a little longer to spin up than in previous years.
Yeah I suppose so. So the building that we hoped to use in 2016 − well, that agreement fell through. It was nobody’s fault. We were then on the back foot for 2016, which is why last year’s Oggcamp didn’t happen.
For 2017 we set ourselves a six-month window to get everything in place, and the first task for Oggcamp is always the venue. Once you have this, you can then pick your date. This gives our attendees time to arrange travel and accommodation.
It also gives us the time that we need to work with speakers and ensure that they haven’t been booked already.
We then have flurries of activity, organising the design of the logos for print and the website. Then we have a period of downtime while you wait for the assets to appear, then you get the logo and you have to think about getting the T-shirts printed, which then relies on having the funding to pay for it. So you plan “this bit” and then you wait for something to finish, then you stop. There were periods where you were less busy. Yeah it’s not a full-time job. I’m very fortunate in that people know what Oggcamp is. Once you have attendees who want to come and are ready to talk about their Mark Johnson (MJ): JS: MJ: JS: MJ: JS: LXF: MJ:
My favourite talk of the event was Rachel Wong, who has never given a talk at an unconference. She got up and did a lightning talk. In fact, I would say that this was the best talk of any Oggcamp. This shows that we have an event where people feel comfortable standing up and talking to the attendees. This is the best result that I could’ve asked for.
I’ve been to previous Oggcamps as an attendee, and as such you’re not looking at the event critically. You’re there to enjoy yourself.
However, as an organiser you’re constantly looking at the elements that make up your event. Are people happy? Is there something for everyone? In my talk this morning, there was an 11-, maybe 12-year-old girl who came along and was engaged with the subject of the talk. These are the next generation of people who want to work in IT.
Because we’re not a vendor or corporate conference, we see a diversity of speakers who give more than just their scheduled talk. They make an effort to take part in the unconference element of the event. JS: MJ: and Mark Johnson Organisers Jon Spriggs and Mark Johnson worked hard to bring Oggcamp back for 2017. subjects, then everything else is just about making it right for them. You’re not running a conference for yourself, but rather for those passionate attendees. Linux Form
This year you have a rich mix of attendees, including those who are new to Oggcamp. Oggcamp is much more than just an unconference started by two podcasts… JS:
Yeah, the communities that surrounded the original podcasts ( and
have a wide range of interests. I wouldn’t say that the spirit has changed, but the message has certainly changed significantly over the years.
We’re very keen to bring as many different threads and interests here. Ian Hutchinson from IF talked about using the products that they create for digital rights and so on. I can’t imagine another conference doing what Oggcamp has achieved. UbuntuPodcast) LXF: MJ: JS: LinuxOutlaws If there was one thing about Oggcamp that you could change, what would it be?
The only thing that I would change this year is that I would have liked to have seen more attendees. However, we had the right number of people for the size of the venue, so it worked out pretty well.
Venues are unique, but they don’t make or break a conference. While some people said they couldn’t come due to the location, I had other who genuinely said to me that this venue is fantastic and wouldn’t have come to it if it were anywhere else. MJ: We have members of the community who live just down the road, and they have travelled across the UK for previous events. So it’s great that for 2017 we’ve been able to bring the event to their doorstep.