I can honestly say that I didn’t attend one bad talk in the entire day but there were a few which really did make the conference for me. I also missed a bunch of great ones, a few of which were videoed so I can check them out today.

Mark Twomey’s presentation on Data Retention was possibly the most entertaining one I’ve been at since Marc Canter in Dublin in April. Not just funny, but also challenging and in your face. I think the crowd were evenly split between those who disagreed with him and those who hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. Joke! Mark covered both sides of the wedge issue and I think he did it very well. Video on YouTube.

Brian Caulfield’s talk on VC funding was excellent because he didn’t play down the tough approach they take when investing money from their fund. They want a return and they are not a charity. I think this may have been an eye-opener for some in the audience. The slight bubble nature of web 2.0 investment in the US may have led people to believe that funding is available for any half-assed idea.

Haydn Shaughnessy’s presentation, simply titled “Content” was the highlight for me. Haydn is a journalist and he is trying to figure out where we are going with content, what is the future of newspapers, who generates the content, what is the future of online newspapers, what are the delivery mechanisms and where are the business opportunities. He talked for a few minutes without slides to a room of maybe 15 people and then threw the discussion open to the floor. We kept it going for another half an hour and I think there was at least another hour’s worth of opinion there if we hadn’t had to stop. That session was one of the most talked about in the pub afterwards. As I said recently - his blog is a must-read.

John Breslin’s talk on “the Semantic Web” was very well attended and John gave an excellent overview of both the concepts and practical implementations in the that world. The project he is working on, called “SIOC”, looks very interesting and touches on many of the hot topics on the web right now - particularly the idea of distributed identity. Whilst the little “s” semantic and big “S” Semantic groups often seem to be at loggerheads, they are both concerned with many of the same problems and it would be remiss of me not to pay attention to both to see what problems are being solved and how they are being solved.

And then came Petcha Kucha. This should be a mandatory session at every BarCamp. Like Walter, I won’t ruin the surprise of what we did at it. But can I just echo the most important idea that came out of it: “wallpaper design”.

One real treat for me was the outcome of inviting my friend Marcas to attend. Whilst he works in IC design, he is still a general uber-geek so I thought the day would appeal to him. He mentioned the night before that he was involved in MediaForum.ie and The Radharc Trust and explained what they were (I’ll do a separate post on them later). I realised that there should be some cross-over with the work of the DRI and hooked him up with Simon McGarr on Saturday morning. Simon’s opening presentation caused a meeting of minds with Marcas and several others in the room and it required both a follow-up breakout session and a wrap-up after lunch. These guys have a bunch of things to talk about in the coming weeks and months. And that, in a nutshell, is why I loved BarCamp.

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