BarCamp Bangalore: A Recap

Barcamp is more about meeting up with other tech geeks and nerds than about attending specific sessions and presentations. It's a great venue to meet like-minded people who are passionate about technology.

Yahoo! Developer Network sponsored the venue for Barcamp Bangalore 2009, which took place on a weekend, March 7 and 8, 2009. The crowed that gathered was a good mix of puzzled first-timers and ranting Barcamp veterans. Yahoo!'s Bangalore office cafeteria was big enough to host 5 parallel sessions, but the cozy indoor setting proved quite noisy.


Photo Credit: "Huddle" by Alagu M

By 8 a.m. the first morning, the mood was electric. Day one offered a good mix of sessions, ranging from tech-heavy to non-technical discussions. Web frameworks, Django, Open Street Maps, the future of web standards, yoga and digital filmmaking were among the topics covered.

The guys who spoke about the OpenStreetMap Project focused on the need for a mapping platform parallel to Wikipedia -- of, by, and for the people. The driving force for such a platform is the fact that local users will draw a much more accurate map of a location they explore than mapping services like Yahoo! and Google. Former Yahoo Swaroop CH spoke about the interesting possibilities that emerge when we natively integrate WebDev frameworks with cloud databases and cloud computing facilities.
He encouraged discussion about the issues developers face today when using cloud-based data stores and how to effectively design a front-end over them.

Another interesting topic: Location-based services on mobile apps. Though I did not attend this session, I had some interesting discussions with folks about the possibilities and future of location-aware services. We discussed the use of Fire Eagle as a location broker and how to innovate on existing services.


Photo credit: "We can solve stuff!" by Alagu M

Day 2 drew a smaller crowd. Gopal and I did a couple informal "Solve the Rubik's cube" sessions which had many people interested. I attended a session by Mithun KM from a company called Globals; he spoke about his vision for Web 3.0 and the Web going forward. He demoed a Firefox application called "Jadoo," which in Hindi means magic. This application brought together various platforms like Facebook, xing, YouTube, etc. Mithun spoke about the dream of maintaining a single user profile on the Web, common to many platforms, so that a user would not have to sign in for each service. He spoke about the use of OpenID for user authentication.

After his talk, I continued the conversation with Globals' team of three about how they imagined Web 3.0. We mentioned the Semantic Web, improved search, microformats. Specific to YDN, I encouraged them to look at SearchMonkey for sharing structured data using microformats and RDF, and to look at BOSS to define the next-gen search aspect of their app. We also discussed the importance of location-aware applications and how platforms like Fire Eagle adds a social dimension. Here are some ideas that emerged:

- Location-aware social connections can be more relevant.
- Privacy of user data on a cloud is one of the big challenges of Web 3.0.
- Users in the future must be able to manage multiple profiles for different aspects of their life via a single authentication (e.g., a profile for work and a profile for dating).
- Shopping platforms must allow for common shopping carts so that a user can check out multiple items from different sites at one time.

Apart from all the tech stuff, sessions on Yoga and photography were insightful and had a lot of people interested. Kent Brewster's Hackday radar was modifed for our event and was put up on displays to show latest tweets and Flickr photos for Barcamp Bangalore.


Photo credit: "Hack radar" by Alagu M

Two-way discussion forums are very important for nourishing the developer ecosystem in India. In the past, the developer community in India has been relatively silent despite having lots of smart people working on cool stuff. Slowly, this is changing. Yahoo!'s University Hack days launched this year at IIT Delhi and IIT Mumbai aimed to get students engaged in technology sharing.

Thanks to Allagappan, Swaroop CH and Rahul Kumar Jha for their inputs on this post.

Subramanyan Murali
Yahoo! Maps Engineer
Yahoo!, Bangalore