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BarCamp Tampa Bay gets a new home for 2019

Margie Manning



BarCamp Tampa Bay has a new home this year.

Keiser University in Tampa will host the annual event, the largest user-driven conference in the area.

Joy Randels

The Oct. 5 event is billed as an “unconference,” with the agenda set by those who attend. Since it launched in 2008, BarCamp Tampa Bay has averaged more than 800 attendees and is the second-largest BarCamp in the world, said Joy Randels, board chair of TechNova Florida Inc., a nonprofit that supports the local tech community.

“There are actually only two events that are driven completely by the community and they are both TechNova events. There’s this event, and there’s Ignite in the spring. In both cases, the community sets the agenda. We don’t set the agenda, we’re just facilitators,” Randels said. “We provide the space, the environment, and all the tools, but the people decide what they want to share … You can come in and share what you know with an audience who is engaged.”

“No spectators, only participants,” says an infographic that explains how BarCamp works.

There’s a wide range of topics. Past talks have focused on tech-intense subjects such as software programming languages, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, gaming, cryptocurrencies and robotics. Presenters also have talked about photography and podcasting, as well as operational topics like intellectual property law, startup economics and managing outsourced development teams.

“While we have a loyal group of people who continue to come every year, about 20 percent of our audience is new every year. That’s awesome, because it means more people in the community are getting engaged,” Randels said.

Keiser University at 5002 W. Waters Ave., is making 15 classrooms available. Each classroom will host six sessions during the day, with  each presentation lasting 50 minutes – allowing 90 people to present throughout the day.

The day starts at 8 a.m. with breakfast, and wraps up at 4 p.m., with a break for lunch, and an after-party at a location to be determined.

BarCamp is free, with dozens of companies sponsoring the event, including major corporate players in the local technology industry such as KnowBe4, a Clearwater cybersecurity training firm; Sourcetoad, a  Tampa company that develops software for the cruise industry; and AgileThought, a custom software development company in Tampa. TechNova is looking for more sponsors, as well as speakers, volunteers and attendees. Registration is here.

In addition to breakfast, lunch and snacks, BarCamp attendees will get a T-shirt. This year’s shirt will commemorate the 50th birthday of the internet, Randels said.

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