A post BuzzConf 2016 writeup.

What a wonderful time I’ve had this weekend at what must surely be Australia’s premier technology festival – BuzzConf. This was my second BuzzConf, having previously been a speaker at the first BuzzConf last year.

BuzzConf certainly did not have the sophomore slump curse. The second edition of this festival was amazing. The venue was still the fabulous Phoenix Park in Ballan, Victoria. Ballan is not a far distance from Melbourne, and the rail line from Southern Cross runs right to town, so the fact that the conference is rural is not an issue to those travelling interstate (or even international) like myself.

A selfie in a tent
A cheeky selfie from Tent One before the BuzzConf opening ceremonies. These big tents are actually the conference rooms the presentations are held in.

Rural? Phoenix Park? Are you confused? Yes BuzzConf is not an indoor conference in some large hotel lobby. No, this technology festival is held in a campground, complete with tents and cabins, campfires, s’mores and of course wifi. The wifi was greatly improved this year, with team having worked hard to bring the NBN to the park. It wasn’t fantastic, but it was good enough that the DJ during the Saturday night rave was being streamed in from Bucharest.

The talks this year were spectacular. Well, sure, they were missing the Scott Huntley charm, but they were still amazing. The presentation on Augmented Reality by Dr Leila Alem of UTS and ThoughtWorks was particularly fascinating, and presentations by Eloise Ducky and Michael Ensly further extended the Augmented and Virtual Reality theme. In addition, I was able to see a demo of Stephanie Andrews’ Virtual Reality demonstration where I was experiencing multiple worlds at the same time. Very exciting, and I can’t wait to see more of this filter down to my VET education world.

Soldering circuit boards
Some BuzzConfers working on creating an “Internet of Tents”.

The most amazing aspect of BuzzConf though is the feeling of community. When you register for BuzzConf, you aren’t an attendee, you’re a community member. You will get involved in the fireside chats about tech and society. You will want to create and participate in community art. You will want to meet new friends, and have a good time with old friends. You will want to volunteer to help kids code. You will want to start 3D printing parts for your mostly benevolent robot army.

I highly recommend BuzzConf; I know they will be back next November, and I’ll surely be there.

 

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