BarCampDC: The Kid Comes Along

Youngest BarCamper
by Kelly Gifford

(that’s Dr. Joe talking to Max)\
Max and I went to BarCampDC this Saturday. BarCamp is an “un-conference” (no set schedule, everyone participates), and they’re held all over the world. This one was organized by Jason Garber, Jackson Wilkinson and Justin Thorp. They did a great job, and were cool with Max coming and participating.\
I spoke on Rails, did the live coding demo I’ve done at other unconferences, and helped out in the portable social networking session.\
Here are some links related to those sessions:

  • Ficlets, Rails and OpenID – I used this presentation during the intro to show off some of what Rails can do (also has some good OpenID info).
  • Tapping the Portable Social Network – Explains some of the concepts behind the prototype I put together, and
  • Portable Social Networks – The blog post that explains the prototype and presents the flow (and has a link to download the app).
  • The International Day of Awesomeness – Because I “sponsored” (on accident, I swear), I got to speak before one of the sessions. Of course, I spoke about The International Day of Awesomeness.\
    Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Max! When I originally asked Max if he wanted to go to BarCamp with me, I wasn’t sure he’d want to go. We talked about it a couple times on the way to summer camp and the more he found out about it, the more excited he got. I was excited for him to see me give a presentation and see what it is that I do when I travel. He had a great time. Everyone was really great with him. He was so excited to talk about Scratch and Hackety Hack and to learn from everyone. He was by far the youngest attendee there (I mean, Jason only looks 15). He was insanely well-behaved, and other than him clicking markers together a couple times or tearing paper, he was as well-behaved as any of the adults. He zoned out a little bit in the afternoon, but I think most people did.\
    On the way home, we talked a lot about what he thought of the day. Even after almost twelve hours of non-stop geekdom (we left the house at 7:30AM and this was at about 7PM), he was asking when the next BarCamp was going to be (in the last twenty-four hours, he’s asked me when the next one is about ten times), and asking me if I’d help him do a presentation on animation and using Hackety Hack.\
    Thank you to everyone who sponsored BarCamp, helped organize things, presented, and talked to Max during the day. I can’t tell you how cool it was to watch him talking to people and share his passion. It was great to share that with him, and to see him get out there. He said afterwards that he was a little shy in the morning, but that everyone was really nice. Max is an interesting kid, and I love seeing him learn and discover new things – and I love being able to share the things I’m passionate about with him.

By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.


  1. He looks alternately excited and terrified. Though he does look like he’s having more fun than the time my kid sat through a PRD review on take your kid to work day :). Glad he enjoyed it.

  2. It was great having Max there and so enthusiastic. Like you said I hardly knew he was there since he was so well behaved.
    You guys could also talk on what it took to-do the 20 X 2 video or have him do another one.
    Good luck Max and I hope to see you again at BarCamp DC or even a Refresh DC meeting.
    jfc iii

  3. Max brings back pleasant memories of hacking in GW, Apple, and Quick BASIC as well as Logo and some C when I was about 7 … it’s good to see kids programming; It would be neat if you (or him) wrote a bit about it. I expect that frustrations have changed a bit; I spent time dealing with graphics and mouse drivers that just aren’t necessary today. On the other hand, I had trouble with some adults and my father. The latter felt that C was “too hard” for a child and wanted me to learn Turbo Pascal, which I couldn’t see anything fun that I could do with it.

  4. Kevin, thanks for coming out to BarCamp DC. It was so exciting to see the community come together in a big way. I really hope that we can keep the excitement going.
    Thanks for bringing Max along. It brought back memories of when I’d go with my dad to a lot of his work things. I remember it was always amazing to get exposed to those new experiences and get to do it with my dad.
    We all should be nice to Max because God knows he’ll probably be the one that we all work for in the future. He’ll run the Facebook of Web 4.0.

  5. Max was marvelous. Congratulations to him, and to you and Jen for doing such a great job with him.
    Let us know when he’ll be presenting at one of these things – I’d be glad to listen to what he has to say.

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