WhereCamp Boston 2011 Review

WhereCamp Boston was this past weekend and it was pretty cool.  Even with troubles with the Red Line (typical) about 50 people were there on Saturday.  I was signed-up for both days but other last minute commitments pulled me away from Sunday’s portion of the weekend conference.

There were two keynote talks on Saturday that were both very interesting.

The morning keynote went to Jeffrey Warren from the Public Laboratory.  He talked about a number of projects that they have been working on including the really amazing balloon mapping techniques that they have developed.  I’ve seen him talk a couple times and after I immediately want to create my own aerial photography!

Tom MacWright from Development Seed gave the afternoon keynote talk and discussed a number of projects including MapBox.  The tools he demonstrated were pretty sweet.  I recommend that you take five minutes and check it out.

A few take-aways from my time at Boston’s first WhereCamp:

  • There was a good variety of people.  There was the GIS crowd, the programmers, the open sourcers, and the spatially enabled.  That mix led to some great conversations in the breakout sessions and in the common areas during the breaks.
  • Speaking of open source, there was a definite open source feel to the meeting, which was completely understandable, as many of the participants came from that side of the GIS coin.
  • I need to learn more about open source GIS.
  • There were some great sessions that emerged from the ideas of the group.  I went to a really good Google Android app builder session, and I heard some good talk about some of the other sessions that occurred including those on open source mapping.
  • The Microsoft NERD facility was awesome and it has one of the best views of Boston.
  • I was really impressed with where people came from.  There were attendees from the Boston region, all over New England, the east coast, and even some from California!
  • The spontaneity was great.  People would chat in the meeting areas during the breaks about a particular idea and it would become a session.  Also, people would propose sessions with the hope that someone could come in and show them something they didn’t know.  That’s what exactly happened to me.  Someone proposed an intro to spatial SQL session and I ended up putting together an (but not that great) impromptu workshop!
  • For next year I am going to come prepared with a few pre-canned workshops so that I can contribute more to the sessions.

Finally, Guido Stein and the ISpatialBoston team did a great job planning the event.  I think next year will be even better as more participants will have ideas going into the weekend and be willing to contribute more.

Again, a big thank you to the organizers.  You did a great job!  Thank you!

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