The first day of Wherecamp EU – a geo “unconference” – was today in London. Not having been to an unconference before, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but actually everything went pretty smoothly thanks to the efforts of the organisers. After a introduction session, talks (some lecture-style, some brainstorms/Q&As) were in six parallel streams, in strictly half-hour slots. People were given post-it notes and encouraged to stick on the “unconference wall” a topic that they would then talk about at the corresponding place and time:
The wall for today pretty much got filled, and there’s 15 up already for the final day, tomorrow, which is in the Guardian’s offices.
I generally enjoyed the talks I picked – particularly a talk by the ESRI UK CTO on the need to rethink how metadata in GIS is managed, especially in relation to delivering it through to mashups, to increase confidence in the final presented data. My favourite though was, without a doubt, a look at the ITO visualisations of OpenStreetMap and UK public transport datasets. The datasets are interesting on their own, but the polish on the visualisations are outstanding. For example, streams of sci-fi-style pulses representing the 24-hour flow of the UK long-distance coach network.
Tonight is “geo-beers” in King’s Cross, paid for by a sponsor – the entire conference is free, with free food and drink, thanks to the many sponsors of the event. Very impressed so far. Even the wifi held up. Possibly the only thing missing is a Twitter wall. Look forward to tomorrow’s sessions.