Last Saturday, we had the first ever WhereCampPHX in Arizona. I was very happy with the attendance and after the first jitters of never being to a unconference before, the crowd totally got into it. In fact, I had many people come up to me after and say they wanted to do another one right away because they had no idea how much fun they can be if you take part. In what was unique for me at a WhereCamp, there seemed to be two tracks that people created. One of “traditional” GIS (scripting geoprocessing, map servers, analysis) and then another one that focused on new technologies. I spent most of my time in the second one where there was discussions on Google Fusion Tables, Google Earth Builder, TileMill, Places APIs, Vectors in the browser (Polymaps, Raphael.js) and back-end databases.
It was a nice change of pace to have a WhereCamp in my hometown and not having to travel to another state or country. The feedback from those who attended clearly shows that there is a need for these more informal sessions as opposed to the traditional conferences. Having the first one of these here in Arizona gives us a leg up on the next one since most of the crowd now knows what to expect and they can propose their own topics.
We also had a great time at the Turf Pub for the after party (thanks Bentley for the food) watching Arizona State fall behind and then blow out Oregon State. My plans are to have some sort of event (maybe an Ignite style talk program) or another unconference in the spring so we can continue what we’ve started. Everyone who attended seemed to have their minds filled with new ideas after the day so there needs to be some downtime to implement all the new stuff we’ve learned.