If you’ve been following my posts to this blog, you know that I’m always interested in exploring ways to connect journalists and technology professionals. The Knight News Challenge "programmer-journalist" scholarships are one approach. So is the idea of a "computational journalism" conference like the one held last year at Georgia Tech. (Early indications are that the second conference will be held this fall.)

Here’s a new opportunity: BarCamp NewsInnovation, a series of user-generated conferences focusing on the future of journalism. The next conference in the series will be held Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Medill School newsroom space in downtown Chicago. Registration is capped at 50; as I write this there are 18 registration spots left — sign up if you’d like to participate.

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Jason Kristufek at the Gazette in Cedar Rapids is the lead organizer for the event. Beatrice Figueroa of Northwestern’s Media Management Center is overseeing logistical arrangements. (Thanks, Jason and Beatrice!).

I’ve never attended at BarCamp so I’ve been reading up about them. It will be interesting to see how the BarCamp process works. I’ve been part of many traditional conferences, and when they are well organized, they can be great learning experiences. Still, many conferences end up being just an endless series of PowerPoint presentations that never get to the core questions and issues that I’m interested in learning more about.

The BarCamp process, which encourages participants to suggest topics and to volunteer to lead sessions, would seem to be dependent on the quality — and insights — of the participants themselves. So if you’re interested in the future of media and journalism — especially if you can bring the perspective of another discipline, such as software development — please sign up. Journalism and our democratic society need your help!

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