We had Democamp 16 last night at the Toronto Board of Trade, and it was one of the best I’ve been to — thanks to David Crow, Jay Goldman, Joey deVilla, Leila Boujnane, and Greg Wilson for pulling it off again. Great demos by Igor Foox (on UTest, an application to help students get into the habit of test-driven development) and Ryan Schmidt (with ShapeShop, a crowd pleasing demo of sketch-like 3D modeling), both from the University of Toronto.
As for the Ignite presentations (20 slides, 15 seconds each on an automatic timer), I liked all three –especially Mark Kuznicki’s on creativity and collaboration–, but I’m not convinced about the format. It tends to turn presentations into something like music videos, or like movies cut by a caffeinated editor: it’s all about the visual impact, and the ideas can’t really lodge in the mind. As an alternative, I think 5 slides of 1 minute each, for instance, forces just as much discipline, and puts far more emphasis on the core ideas than the current format.
Or maybe I’m just slow.
Democamp has changed a lot with the years. Yesterday’s incarnation was in a relatively fancy venue, offered free food, gave some 10-15 minutes of “commercials” to the (generous!) sponsors, and included a business card raffle. More like a concert and less like a jazz night. It probably has to do with the size –Democamps now draw at least a couple of hundred people per night–, and by all means it’s an indication of its great success and of the strength of the Toronto start-up community, but perhaps to find that jazz night feel I will need to frequent the smaller barcamp niches that have started to form around this.