I didn't even know there was a BarCamp event running in Manchester until I happened across Dan's post the night before I was due to head up for a party I was attending. My previous experience with the un-conference style of organisation was limited to OggCamp which I had attended a few weeks previously. Seeing as the event was free I thought it was too much of an opportunity to miss to visit while I was back in Manc.
The scope of the event was a fair bit larger than OggCamp with a lot more rooms/areas available for people to gather together. It was also not as tech focused as a number of people were coming from "new" media perspectives as well as other non-coder types. As a result I was involved in one talk about the future of newspapers in a digital age and attended another on the concept of coworking as a way for individual freelancers to share the collaboration potentials of a shared office. There was also a good selection of more tech related things going on. Things I learnt about included: automated grammar based text generation, the 20 minute Android App as well as a quick demo of some N900 frameworks. The final session was about the perennial problem of getting more women involved in technology and computer science (a trend that has been going the wrong way since the 80s).
Sunday's sessions where a more muted affair (which may have been due to the sponsorship of the previous evenings drinking?) but seeing as I was also a few bars down from Lee's party suited me just fine. However the primary draw of the BarCamp shouldn't be judged purely by the number of sessions it holds. I met and chatted to a number of really interesting people over the event and the collegial atmosphere is one that really encourages people to jump in an explore.
The venue should get an additional mention for providing a nice environment for the event as well as providing numerous wireless access points throughout the space. While there was still the odd connection problem this was probably inevitable with the number of laptops and netbooks competing for the limited RF space, usually a little patience was rewarded. All in all a happy confluence of geek and synchronicity :-)