The day after, the day after, the…

I’ve surprised myself by getting surprised by the amount of energy needed to charge my mobile phone.

Felix Baumgartner jumped from a balloon 23 miles up, and I’m staring at my mums’ mobile phone screen, slack-jawed in amazement because It’s still got 4 bars.

An exoplanet has been discovered orbiting the next nearest sun to us. With implications that planets orbiting stars may be the norm, not a rarity. I can’t believe that I charged my mum’s phone ( mine’s away for repairs ) yesterday morning, yesterday mind ya’, and it’s still holding 80% charge. Can you believe that, the phone, not the exoplanet.

On Saturday 13th October for a few hours #LibCampUK12, was trending on Twitter. Trending in Birmingham, as in locally and trending nationally, as in across the whole of the UK. I only charged the phone for a couple of fucking hours when I got up, a couple of hours, it’s ridiculous. I know it’s only an old Nokia with a 600*400 screen, but my phone wouldn’t have made it through lunch off 2 hours charge.

My brain works in wonderfully eccentric ways that I’m not always proud of. What my brain obsesses over is not very often, the most practical solution to any given experience.

On Saturday 13th in Birmingham at The Signing Tree Conference Centre I met some wonderfully eccentric people for the first time and some stranger friends. Friends I’d only known virtually and good friends I’ve met up with ostensibly to plan LibCampUK12. In reality we’ve enjoyed our own company so much, more time has been spent swapping stories than it has deciding policies and politics.

Yet last Saturday I was angry I hadn’t done enough to make the day all it could. Let me be clear, last Saturday along with the XFactor and Cher Lloyd, #LibCampUK12 was among the most discussed subjects in the twittersphere, and I was sulking because we didn’t have as many attendees as last year. The blogs and posts about the day I’ve read so far, show a sentiment for the day exceeding the affection expressed last year.

The fact that the digital archive of the camp already exceeds that of last year, doesn’t stop me taking personal umbradge against ticket holders who cancelled. I mean, really, c’mon, you couldn’t have been that ill, did you really need to move house on a Saturday and would the deceased rather have you see them off at their funeral or would they rather you have a laugh with your friends and ate cake.

Bearing the brunt of criticisms directed our way was less of a kick to my mental testicles than attendees dropping out. The barrage of accusations from well-intentioned well-wishers about sponsorship concerned me less than the days drop out rate. That some thought we were responsible for the induction of hegemonic forces or politically naive (at the same time) I can accept and learn from. Discovering that some 50 attendees, approximately 25%, were unable to attend was disheartening. The past few Library Camps have been noted for their exceptionally high attendance, 90%+ Do we charge for a ticket at LibCampUK13 ?

The sessions I attended, indeed the day itself, followed the exponential curve of confidence. Confidence starting slowly but growing quickly, yet I’m of the opinion that we got the session order wrong. I would have loved to have the sweary session, as it has become known, after lunch.

I happily surround myself with vulgarity in what has been described as the soft, white, underbelly of the internet. Should you wish to challenge that assertion, I’ll take your virtual hand and we can surf along until you get queasy. Expletive driven aggression affects me no more than a softly spoken, eloquent but parochial display. I forget the very physical effect a curse word can have on those with a weaker disposition than mine. Where as I watch South Park with my coffee before starting the day, other people may need longer to brace themselves against torrents of profanity.

Given the opportunity to re-run the day I would have suggested the same for what is apparently now known as the Red Quadrant session, although I thought it was called What are Libraries Really For? I briefly stuck my head round the door and only heard some of Liz Jolly’s impassioned rebuttal against any privatisation of Libraries. I’d discussed this session on and off for the past year with Ben Taylor from Red Quadrant, it’s proposer and wanted it to carry on where some of last years’ sessions had to end. Ben’s never shied away from wanting to bring a more political debate, rather than focusing on all things technical, to unconferences.

At LibCampUK11’s ice breaker session, we were asked to say a few words on what we wanted to get from the day. I asked for passion and anger. Two things that Ben agreed with. Judging by the atmosphere in that session, there’s certainly enough passion and anger to fuel Libraries for a long time to come. I’m looking forward to spending time with Ben to see what he took from the day.

At Shared Intelligences’ Ben Lee’s session, the Arts Council’s introduction to public Libraries wasn’t actually discussed, though I felt there was an element of *sings* “getting to know you” about it. After assuming responsibility for Libraries, post-MLA, the Arts Council are something of an unknown quantity. Held with the help of Jessica Harris, a Libraries relationship manager at the Arts Council, Ben introduced some of the financial awards available to Libraries through the Arts Council. I’m sure as well as proposing, Ben learnt a lot, along with the rest of us.

One of the campers here, a library asst (apologies, I’m shit with names. I know, I know, symptom of the self obsessed) talked about writing his own application for an Arts Council grant, as it is generally more difficult for his authority to refuse a project if the money is already in their account. He wanted money to help fund a maker space with a 3D Printer. Which was handy as…..

My next notes are about Ben O’Steen’s session on 3D Printing. Continuing a broadside of Bens. Except it wasn’t Ben who put the proposal up, we still don’t know who did. I think all the participants were grateful to the mystery proposer. I’m sure it wasn’t just me and many minds were blown as Ben walked us through their basics and into some of the potential areas available for Libraries to exploit these sense defying machines. How long do you think you’d have to run a 3D Printing club before you’d be turning people away?

Overall my notes on the day are limited as I hadn’t planned to attend any sessions. I was anticipating erratic behaviour on my behalf, scampering around the venue, solving problems and sourcing solutions. This was one of my many erroneous expectations. The day, like its’ organising, was remarkably self sufficing.

I grow hoarse repeating the UnConference mantra that they don’t require much attention, to bring them to fruition or on the day itself. The most important factor is the attendees. Raising the capital necessary was a doddle, generating a buzz about the event and tuning the buzz into ticket ‘sales’ was instinctual. As we insisted in the programme, the day is about “You” the attendee.

So, what am I going to take from the day?

Easy, WE TRENDED NATIONALLY ON TWITTER:O

granted so was #nationalnobraday

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