Sunday, August 9, 2009

Barcamp Kathmandu 2009

On Saturday morning, I gave a live presentation at the first-ever Barcamp (@barcampktm) organized in Kathmandu. I am totally enthralled by the enthusiasm of the organizers (Shankar and his friends) and most importantly the active participants, lively ( and critical) discussion sessions, the wide range of topics covered in the sessions, and overall management of the whole event. Congratulations to every one who participated, organized and sponsored BarCamp Kathmandu 2009. Thanks to Shankar for excellent correspondence and coordination.

What amazed me was the way the participants were using Twitter (and Facebook) to update, in real time, about the sessions that were in progress. It was simply awesome! Here is a rundown of the sessions during the BCKTM09. Information about my session is available here.

Thanks to Shishir, I was able to share my desktop PowerPoint presentation in real time with the audience in Nepal. The voice quality was also good (at least on my side). In short, I spoke about how to bring about change by digging in the most relevant development challenges/issues in one’s area of concern; identifying the most pressing ones (on the assumption that we cannot solve all the problems at the same time-- piecemeal and calculative approach); eliciting potential solutions; and letting it be heard in the public (through blogs, newspapers, other media, discussion forms, and also grassroots civil activism) loud and clear so that policymaking is positively influenced going roundabout the corrupt bureaucracy, which necessarily should not be a binding constraint on positive change. I also responded to questions raised by the participants. As far as I remember, Bibek, Vinya, and Jenny asked very good, perfectly valid and stimulating questions. I hope I responded appropriately :)

Here is how Ujjwol, who led a very popular session (judgment based on tweets about his session) about Sanskrit language, describes my presentation:

Dig in and let it be heard! : Once the BarCamp was officially started, the first session was Dig in and let it be heard! by Chandan Sapkota. He was conducting the session from the United States, and once the technical glitches were fixed he started his session. In this session, he talked about policymakers in Nepal, prioritizing issues, how to dig in into a problem and solution, and knowing about them using various media. As he said, one work of digging in as example could be taking an policy which has appeared in media as news and start to dig into it, know more about and after the estimated time try to see how has that been implemented and write on what and what has the implementation been done and publish in blog, newspapers and other medias. He discussed on ways to get involved in the current development debates and on how to influence policymaking. And on the getting published to large Medias like Newspaper was what people discussed more, they shared bitter experience of articles not getting published. And on that note, he share his experience of getting article publish into the newspaper which he had face years ago. He said in most of the cases the articles are just rejected but we should always send them so that they will once at take time to read and after one day they will publish and once your article is published for the first time than your next article has a more probability. Finally on this session, the session was itself fruitful for me and others as well, after this I am willing to dig in and let it be heard by writing on my blog and newspapers.

There are not much blog posts about the BarCamp yet. I hope other participants will weigh in soon. Here is Geshan writing about the event. On a side note, I am very surprised that only one newspaper covered the event the next day (alas, the reporter missed the main point of a BarCamp and even forgot to mention the name--if it is not the reporter’s fault, then it is the editor or copyeditor at the news desk who mistakenly thought that the name and scope of the event do not matter!). I can’t figure out why editors trivialize these kind of crucial events that are wholly organized by youths and eager minds. I think covering the event would have been more fruitful than covering mundane street protests and political quibble! We need to give space to ‘agents of change’ instead of ‘agents of disruption’. Anyway, the quality and output of the event should matter more than an editor’s biases. In all respects, the event was successful.

I hope more of such events are organized in the coming days.