Traveled from my home in Hanoi to attend Barcamp Saigon on December 11, 2011. Walking through the main hall of the Barcamp Camp, you'll see students, IT professionals, expats working in technology startups. The Barcamp Saigon itself is organized by a group of expats and local volunteers.
There are Job boards advertising new positions in startups, online book seller Tiki.vn's booth, RMIT education booth and free coffee from a new cafe outlet in the main hall. The Kindle Fire on display at Tiki.vn's booth was certainly drawing quite a lot of interest. Judging by the Barcamp talks, there seems to be a marked interest in the technology, gaming and entrepreneurship.
Mozilla Engagement at Barcamp Saigon
We managed to schedule two Mozilla talks at Barcamp Saigon. Participants learnt about the story behind Mozilla project and how to contribute to Mozilla software. Vu Hung gave a talk about Mozilla Vietnamese localization project and I talked about testing the latest Firefox Mobile for Android.
Mozilla Vietnamese Localization
Vu Hung contributes Vietnamese translations to Mozilla Firefox and other FLOSS projects such as LibreOffice. In this Vietnamese language talk he explained various aspects of Mozilla Localization; the software and the challenges of localization. Thanks to volunteer efforts Mozilla Firefox is available in Vietnamese. The talk encouraged people to join and help translate Vietnamese localization of Mozilla software.
Testing Mozilla Firefox Mobile
The talk introduced the Mozilla Mobile Test Drivers program. The program aims to attract early adopters to try out Firefox mobile nightly and report problems. The response was positive, there were very few Android devices capable of running Mobile Firefox around. However I except this to change very soon here in Vietnam.
We had good number of people attend the talk. Ubuntu Vietnam community was also present in the room. At the end of the session I invited Ubuntu Vietnam community to briefly present their work to the audience.
Developing IT Community in Saigon
Unlike other barcamp talks, this interactive session discussed various ideas for developing an active IT community in Saigon. The participants decided to start a new community called 'Creative Saigon' to further this goal. I was really happy that my suggestion 'Creative Saigon' got the most votes. Guess the offer of 'Free Beer' also helped.
Towards the end of the discussion, I put forth a challenge to be pro-active about developing the IT community by starting right now. Would anyone join me for the first Beercamp Saigon next day?. As expected no one showed up at the Beercamp Saigon expect for my friends from Hanoi Lilly and Mieh. As of writing this post, Beercamp Saigon is a regular event in Ho Chi Minh City.
Wrapping Up The Barcamp
The highlight of the evening was not announcing results for the best barcamp talk, but blowing up the digital projectors light bulb in the main auditorium. The MC decided to play the Korean Girl Band 'Bring the boy out' video while waiting for the results. That was one *hot* video indeed.
Taking the feedback from the barcampers was important part of the evening. We heard people share the best and worst thing about the Barcamp Saigon. The Barcamps regular fixture Preetam Rai encouraged everyone to participate in the upcoming Barcamps in Cambodia. Someone asked 'What about Barcamp Hanoi?' Well, we are going to have one in the next few months.