Assessing Barcamps: Incentives for Participation in Ad-Hoc Conferences and the Role of Social Media

Publikation aus Digital
Connected Computing

Dennerlein S., Gutounig R., Kraker P., Kaiser R., Rauter R., Ausserhofer J.

Graz, Austria I-KNOW, 13th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Knowledge Technologies, 9/2013


Barcamps are informal conferences whose content is not defined in advance, often referred to as ad-hoc conferences or un-conferences. Therefore, the outcomes of a barcamp are largely unknown before the event. This raises the question of the participants' motivations to attend and contribute. To answer this question, we conducted an exploratory empirical study at Barcamp Graz 2012. We applied a mixed-method approach: first we used a socio-demographic questionnaire (n=99)
 which allowed us to characterize the 'typical barcamper'. Second, we conducted qualitative interviews (n=10) to get a deeper understanding of the participants' motivations to attend, expectations, and the use of social media in that context. We identified three concepts, which could be deducted from the interviews: people, format and topics. We found that the motivation to attend and even a common identity is quite strongly based on these three factors. Furthermore, the results indicate that participants share a set of activities and methods by following the barcamp's inherent rules and make extensive use of social media.