Suggestions for someone who feels a bit intimidated….

I am very excited about attending ThatCamp, but I must admit I am feeling waaaay out of my league. I know enough about computers to get through life, but aside from that I am lost. Any suggestions on how to approach this ThatCamp? After reading some of the participants bios I think that maybe I should just prepare myself to feel really, really overwhelmed. Oy. Should I be scared?? Should I bring my kazoo for acoustic night? Should I drink profusely? Any and all advice/sympathy is greatly appreciated.

About sparish

I am an auctioneer and personal property appraiser. I have been self employed for over 20 years. I am passionate about antiques and fine art, as well as museums. I have been given the opportunity, at the age of 46, to finish my undergraduate education as well as to pursue a masters degree in the History of Decorative Arts. I continue to run my business full time while going to Chatham University year round. I am a bit computer-phobic, and I am just beginning to embrace new technology; I still prefer phone calls over email, but, alas, I am adjusting (*sigh*). I have a thirst for knowledge, and believe that I am just reaching the prime of my personal and professional life!

7 thoughts on “Suggestions for someone who feels a bit intimidated….

  1. Bringing a kazoo sounds great!

    The overwhelmingness seems ok … everyone is! The great thing is that there’s a lot of passion floating around THATCamps. And that can be overwhelming.

    BUT! We’re also a friendly bunch, and tend to love hearing new and awesome perspectives…I think you’re the first appraiser I’ve met (or will have met) at a THATCamp, and that’s what it’s all about, to me.

    So, no worries. My approach to this, as with most things, is “fuck leagues”. You’ve got good stuff going on, and that’s more important than leagues!

    Plus, yeah, profuse drinking goes well with this. And kazoos. Definitely kazoos.

  2. Hi, there! I’m also a novice at the tech stuff. I went last year and I was just a community college student so I felt waaaaaay out of my league also. I think that’s okay and it’s probably normal. I promise you’ll get a lot out of it, though.

    On drinking: If that’s your thing, fine but it’s also okay to not drink. I don’t like how networking and social events often revolve around alcohol. I won’t be drinking at all but I’m not letting that stop me from participating in post-(un)conference activities.

    Have fun!

  3. 1) Kazoos will fit right in. People do go to a pub in the evening to socialize, but drinking is not required (well, there is a lot of coffee-drinking during the day…)
    2) DH is blessed with a wonderful byproduct of using and studying technology: the impossibility of anyone ever always being an expert (too many new things and evolving tools to learn, so no one’s forgotten what it feels like to be new to things).
    3) THATCamps are the friendliest conferences I have ever attended. While many (but not all!) attendees have some area of digital expertise, this expertise is almost always limited within certain areas that don’t completely overlap with everyone else’s (e.g. maybe you love to produce podcasts or take photos, but don’t code; your bio shows an interest in design and antiques, and there will definitely be tons of people who want to talk about those and can also recommend some neat ways of starting to use digital tools related to your interests!). Explaining and teaching things to people is expected and enjoyed, and everyone is there to learn and socialize and have nerdy fun. If you ever get into a conversation where you feel out of your league, I can’t imagine a THATCamp attendee not being willing to teach you or fill you in on what they’re talking about. The only danger is coming home for the unconference with your brain too full–that’s always my experience 🙂

    Lastly–if you’re not already, I’d definitely recommend joining Twitter and following the #thatcamp hashtag to see what people are saying about the conference (there will probably be tweets about impromptu sessions, etc. happening outside the main schedule, and this is a good way to get to know people!).

  4. Thanks for all of the advice and support. I feel better already! I will attend without fear, and look forward to meeting all of you.

    BTW – was just being facetious about the drinking. I am a 2 beer queer, lol.

    PS – Patrick: You are right. Fuck the leagues. I like the way you think!

  5. I meant to reply to this last night but was too drunk. (Kidding!) Actually, not long ago I read this post about the excessive emphasis on drinking at tech conferences, and since then have been careful to place just enough emphasis on drinking at THATCamp and not too much. We do have a “have fun” ethos, especially at THATCamp Prime, but that need not entail drinking.

    More importantly, I’m going to propose a session about this. I think it’s high time we produced a nice bulleted list or narrative or something that will give people an idea of what to expect at THATCamp if they 1) haven’t been to an unconference before and/or 2) consider themselves fairly novice at technology.

  6. samantha, in addition to what everyone else has said, if it helps any, several of us that I know about (and no doubt some others i haven’t met yet) are dec arts/material culture/museum geeks and will have that in common with you too.


  7. Pingback: Overcoming Session Proposal Anxiety at THATCamp and Beyond - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education

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