Seattle Mind Camp organizer Andru Edwards

Seattle tech writer Andru Edwards, the editor in chief of GearLive.com and a GeekWire contributor, is also the organizer of the longstanding Seattle Mind Camp “unconference” — the 8th installment of which will be held Dec. 15 and 16 in Seattle.

So what is this event about, and why do people keep coming back? We talked with Andru about Mind Camp 8 when he joined us recently on the GeekWire podcast. Continue reading for edited excerpts from our conversation. 

Q: What is Mind Camp? 

Edwards: It’s Seattle’s only full 24-hour, overnight geekfest, if you will. From Dec. 15-16 we’re going to have roughly 200 of Seattle’s geekiest people, but it’s not just for techies. We have historians there, musicians, artists, doctors. If you’re passionate about a topic, and you want to share and/or learn, Mind Camp is the place to do it.

Q: So it’s part of the trend of unscripted conferences, or unconferences. You go and if there’s something you want to talk about, you put it up on a wall, and if other people want to hear what you have to say, or join in the conversation, that becomes a session of the conference.

Edwards: Yes. You can also write about what you want to hear. So if you come to Mind Camp saying, “I want to learn about this topic, I know nothing about it, but I want to learn about it,” you can still write it up and put in, “this session needs a speaker.”

Q: You’ve got a great personal story about why you started this conference.

Edwards: I started GearLive in Olympia, Wash., where I used to live, and I moved up to Seattle. Working from home, running Gear Live full time, I just figured there was no way for me to meet anybody here. I don’t go to work, so what can I do? I figured, if I start a conference that the top people in my industry in the city would want to go to, make it awesome, they’ll all want to meet me, they’ll all want to get to know me, they’ll all want to shake my hand and then I’ll know people, and that’s exactly what happened.

Mind Camp has had a lot of cool stuff come out of it. There have been some companies come out of it, local companies like Substantial. (The founders met at Mind Camp.) Ignite is a huge phenomenon. The first Ignite was at Mind Camp.

Q: What are people going to walk away with after Mind Camp? 

Edwards:  Typically what people walk away with is a much better sense of community — who’s in the community, who’s doing things similar to them, who matches up well with them. … Mind Camp, aside from things like Ignite, has spurred a lot of other local unconferences. It’s about getting together and building and making stuff and getting to know people on a much more personal level — rather than a typical, “Hey, what do you do, who’s funding you, all business stuff.”

Tickets for Mind Camp 8 are available here — use the code ‘GeekWire’ for a discount.

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