The inaugural barcamp.mil went down yesterday in Crystal City without a hitch and, at least for me, was a real blast. Thanks to John Scott and Mercury Computer Systems for providing space, pizza, and even some celebratory Tsing Tao beer. The turnout was good and we ended up with strong tracks in GIS and DoD open source as well as some great sessions on security (high assurance computing), cloud computing in DoD, and enabling innovation. There were probably others but being able to be in only one place at a time... The lunchtime session on evolving open source policy in the DoD was of particular interest. There are definitely people in the department that get it which is heartening.
John and I both agree that we'd like to do more of these things; perhaps tied in with major conferences such as I/ITSEC, the annual DISA Partner Conference, or similar venues that draw DoD geeks together. If you are running a conference and you'd like to facilitate a simul-barcamp.mil let John or I know.
Some people are probably wondering how it is possible to mix the barcamp ethos with the defense space. All I can say is, you should check it out. Despite the bureaucracy we deal with in this space there is really cool work being done (and some of it can even be talked about). Beyond that, I believe there is a growing cultural gap developing along generational lines within the industry. We didn't all grow up here and we are bringing our culture, values, and methods of working with us. From agile to open source the defense space is undergoing big changes. barcamp.mil is just another way for like minded people to connect, share ideas, and spread the culture virus.
Industrial age mechanisms simply aren't working anymore for the connected forces the DoD envisions. We have an opportunity to really make a difference in how tomorrow's force is equipped, but even more importantly, how it works. Hey, it's a Democratic Republic and it's our military too.