A Letter to the Editor of Charlotte Magazine

Posted on Jan 4, 2011

Thank you for your coverage of the regional conference scene in Charlotte in your piece “Rhetorical Revolution”. This piece touches on some very important areas for the future of Charlotte’s technology culture.

To critics of BarCamp labelling its content as “elitist b.s.”, I claim your position is, to be generous, underinformed. No talks are scheduled ahead of time– anyone who wishes to speak must convince the attendees that his or her talk is worth attending. Whoever shows up for the event determines what will be discussed in true democratic style, with every vote counting equally. I’m not aware of a more open, less elitist format for a conference. Indeed, even their technical nature is in question from event to event. Social Media Terrorism and making balloon animals have been among the most popular presentations in the event’s history. The contrast with an event featuring a set of invited speakers and curated attendance list should be obvious. As a community, we should be happy both formats exist here in the city.

I’m confused by the article’s conclusion: that these events ought themselves to lead to the incubation of startups. The tension between the desire for the audience not to “be pitched” and to simultaneously result in city-changing startups seems irreconcilable. Although they do not fit the profile of the events listed in your article, if your readers are looking for startup activity in Charlotte, I’d direct them to the Twitter accounts @CLTLaunch and @CollaborateCLT, which both have practical, hands-on advice for all start-ups as a part of their mission.

Finally, I’d encourage all Charlotte Magazine readers to attend the events, engage with the speakers, and pitch your own sessions. Participate in this open discussion about your city’s future, and you’ll have an impact.