BarCamp is an international network of user-generated conferences (or unconferences). They are open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants. The first BarCamps focused on early-stage web applications, and were related to open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats. The format has also been used for a variety of other topics, including public transit, health care, and political organizing.
BarCamps are organized and evangelized largely through the web; anyone can initiate a BarCamp using the BarCamp wiki.
The procedural framework consists of sessions proposed and scheduled each day by attendees, mostly on-site, typically using whiteboards or paper taped to the wall. This approach has been dubbed to play on words, The Open Grid approach.
FooCamps and BarCamps are based on simplified variations of Open Space Technology (OST), relying on the self-organizing character of OST. Unlike classical conference formats, BarCamps and OST rely on the passion and the responsibility of the participants.
Although the format is loosely structured, there are rules at BarCamp. All attendees are encouraged to present or facilitate a session. Everyone is also asked to share information and experiences of the event via public web channels, including blogs, photo sharing, social bookmarking, twitter, wikis, and IRC. This encouragement to share is a deliberate change from the “off-the-record by default” and “no recordings” rules at many invite-only participant driven conferences. It also turns a physical, face-to-face event into a ‘hybrid event‘ which enables remote online engagement with Barcamp participants.
Tip of the Hat to Paul Harper.