A Day of Learning and Doing on Tap at RIT Saturday

RIT students, alumni team to present a wiki-style event about everything

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There is no schedule set for BarCamp Rochester 2010, a wiki-style event that takes place Saturday. Instead, presenters will select time slots and write down their presentation titles on a giant sheet of plastic on the morning of the event.

The iconic sitcom Seinfeld is often known as a show about nothing. This Saturday at Rochester Institute of Technology, people can attend an event about...well, everything.

A team of students and alumni are set to unveil BarCamp Rochester 2010, an attendee-driven, wiki-style event that allows anyone to present just about anything. Topics in the past have included demonstrations of lock picking, making an HDTV antenna, robotics and even relationship advice for “geeks.”

“Everyone is invited and anyone can come and talk,” says Dan Schneiderman, a third-year information technology major and the lead host of the event. “We have session slots, but until the actual event, nothing is figured out.”

When the conference, which organizers have dubbed an “unconference,” kicks off at 10 a.m. in the B. Thomas Golisano College and Computing and Information Sciences atrium, a giant white piece of plastic will be plastered against a wall. Participants will sign up for various slots, listing the title of their presentation. Attendees can then map out their schedule for the day, which concludes at 10 p.m.

Six 30-minute sessions take place simultaneously in classrooms throughout the Golisano College. A lack of a schedule doesn’t bother Schneiderman, who has organized two other BarCamps. In fact, he noted, he knows that many presenters won’t even work on their presentation until the night before the event. But when the event kicks off, approximately 120 people are somehow ready to go.

“There is definitely a strong group of tech-oriented presentations, but we’ve had a lot of different presenters,” says Schneiderman. “We’ve had people from different photography majors and we’ve even had someone talk about the history of cotton candy.”

BarCamps are not unique to RIT. Schneiderman says similar events are hosted in countries around the world. The name is derived from the term “foobar,” which was used in early versions of computer programs and documents.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. but pre-registration is encouraged at www.barcamproc.org. A free lunch and T-shirt will be provided for those who pre-register.