The rainbow light installation in the shiny glass-walled full-height lobby with its smartly-uniformed attendants told me that this was the building in which UK GovCamp 2011 was happening (Microsoft). As I tentatively enquired about alternative ways up the long flight of stairs, Mark O’Neill arrived, so I knew I was definitely in the right shiny building.
If I meet you at one of these events and my attention is divided between you and the building, please forgive me. If you were unaware of it before, my academic background is in the history and theory of art and design, including architecture. I enjoy events in interesting buildings. It is a rare opportunity for me to start to understand the spaces of such buildings, how they relate to each other, the materials and how they interact with the environment and people. I have not seen prestige offices of that kind and at that scale outside London. Those of you who are based in London and see such architecture every day may not realise just how different it is. The scale of such buildings, the obvious representation of the economic power of the companies and individuals that have built or currently occupy them, is so much greater than elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
The difference in scale was a thought that was to persist in my head throughout the rest of the day.
It was lovely to see many people whom I have met before. It was lovely to meet some who are familiar from Twitter or their blogs, and there were even more whom I missed in the big crowd. I do apologise to anyone to whom I did not say hello or failed to recognise from their avatar (such as @SubtleBlade ). I need UK GovCamp to be two days long so that I get to talk to everyone. There were interesting people there, and great potential for fascinating discussions.
The first part of the day included Dave Briggs (co-organiser of the event) starting off the day. Lloyd Davis did a truly remarkable job in getting a large room of people (including many still coming in) to introduce themselves briefly without it taking all morning. I have seen this introduction of all at an unconference before, but never done with so many people nor achieved with such efficiency before. I am now convinced that Lloyd could herd cats!
Lloyd then organised the proposing of sessions, and the sponsors’ messages. His analogue countdown timer was wonderful. Jim Anning has since kindly created a digital reconstruction which you can use. The real version included Steph Gray (co-organiser of the event) blowing a horn at anyone who went over their allotted time, and the risk of Lloyd blowing his whistle if they transgressed further.
The final part of the organising things part of the day was the scramble to read the Post-It notes on the board so that people could decide which session to attend and find out in which room it would be.