by James Arthur Cattell

In celebration of the 10th UKGovCamp, I put the call out on Twitter a few days ago asking people for their memories over the years. Here’s what I got back…

“I just wanted to get all the cool people I had met across, around, and outside government together in 1 place, on 1 day, so we could share what we were up to, what we wanted to do, our frustrations and our successes. I had no idea it would have legs this long” – Jeremy Gould

On 1 November 2007 Jeremy Gould announced the 1st UKGovCamp on his Whitehall Webby blog. Back then the event was called Barcamp UKGovWeb and was organised on the Barcamp wiki.

1 week later Apple released the iPhone in the UK.

“I sat beside Jeremy Gould in the Ministry of Justice digital team in 2007 when he was organising the 1st UKGovcamp and it was so exciting to see it all come together. Jeremy had a genius idea and we wouldn’t have UKGovcamp without him and then the strength and energy of the whole community to keep it going for 10 years.” – Jane O’Loughlin

2008 logo

  • Barcamp UKGovWeb, 26 January 2008 @ Google HQ, London
  • 105 people signed up and 35 sessions were run
  • Themes included web strategy, improving consultations and WordPress

“[It] was my/the first Govcamp. I wasn’t even working in government at the time but I followed the Gov 2.0 bloggers – Jeremy Gould, Simon Dickson, Dave Briggs – and it was great to meet them in person… I’d never been to an event like it. I pitched an unprepared session on ‘How to do social media in government and not get fired’. A faintly annoyed Tom Steinberg… and we all basically concluded that you’re pretty unlikely to be fired from the civil service – something which probably made me Bolder in the years to come.” – Steph Gray

2009 logo

  • Barcamp UKGovCamp09, 31 January 2009 @ Ministry of Justice, London
  • 104 people had signed up and 25 sessions were run
  • Themes included social media and collaboration

Barack Obama becomes President this year.

“I went to my first GovCamp in 2009 – I tagged along with Emer Coleman, who assured me I wouldn’t be the only person who wasn’t a professional technologist and I’d find plenty people to connect with and conversations be inspired by. She was completely right – I was blown away and ended the day feeling like my head was about to explode with ideas and excitement.” – Janet Hughes

“I often felt lost in the Civil Service, too many suits, stiff hierarchies, work attitudes that belonged in the last century. I went to my first Govcamp back in 2009. It showed me that there were people out there just like me, people who just got “it”. Who understood the internet, digital and the possibilities it could give us to help make things better. People who gave a shit.” – Sarah Baskerville

2010 logo

  • #ukgc10, 23 January 2010 @ Google HQ, London
  • 137 people signed up and 33 sessions were run
  • Lots of local government related sessions this year

Apple launches the iPad this year.

“I have been to all of the UKGovCamps, attended some, helped at some, co-organised one – and I have loved each and every one of them. I learn loads, I meet new people, I catch up with people I know. It is such an open and friendly environment and full of energy.” – Jane O’Loughlin

2011 logo

  • #ukgc11, 22 January 2011 @ Microsoft, London
  • 205 people signed up and 39 sessions were pitched and run
  • A session called “Sex, drugs and rock n roll” is held in the main room

Steve Jobs dies and the English riots happen this year (unrelated).

“When I was attacked by the Press… when organisations were still trying to get their head around the whole “Social Media” thing… it was the UKGovcamp community that rallied around me back in 2011. When I stood up to say my name “I am Baskers”, the entire room erupted into applause. Like a great big hug from the community, which gave me strength to carry on” – Sarah Baskerville

“My personal memory was sitting in Microsoft being as nervous as hell as each person introduced themselves and then I stood up to say ‘I am Spartacus’ it seemed so obvious to me but got a good laugh” – Nick Halliday

2012 logo

  • #ukgc12, 20 and 21 January 2012 @ Microsoft, London
  • 321 tickets were “sold” for both days and 76 sessions were run
  • Lots of open data sessions this year

Great Britain comes 3rd in the Olympic medals table this year.

“I remember UKGC12 fondly. It was the 2nd in the amazing space at Microsoft on Victoria St, and we had amazing support and understanding from the Microsoft folk… We tried some new things – some more successful than others. Getting Mike Bracken along to talk was exciting and awkward in equal measure, and probably the wrong call – but in those early days of the Government Digital Service it demonstrated real respect and engagement with the community of pioneers who’d been ploughing lonely furrows before. Trying to spin UKGC into a second ‘doing’ day on Sunday was worth trying, but we were all too tired by that point to make much of it. One day of serendipitous connections and passionate talks, run on open space rules is what UKGC is all about for me.” – Steph Gray

2013 logo

  • #ukgc13, 9 March 2013 @ IBM, London
  • 155 people signed up and 35 sessions were run
  • Open data, procurement and lots of other sessions

#ukgc13 was postponed due to bad weather, so a few of us went to The Royal Festival Hall and did #AltUKGC13.

“In 2013 I was absolutely boldover, sold, committed and created quite a long personal to do list, I still have one thing left: to holding an unconference for everyone in Defra… Holding one for 22,000 people is going to be tricky, but… I still think it’s good to dream. That’s what UKGovCamp is for me a place to share dreams, be romantic and yet practical in the same measure and sign up to a personal contact with yourself to do the hard graft to make your dreams and the dreams of others a reality.” – David Buck

“AltUKGC13 was an unforgettable induction but I’ve loved each one since in different ways with countless deep discussions. Mobile phones need recharging and we need recharging too” – Graeme Jones

2014 to 2016 logo

  • #ukgc14, 25 January 2014 @ City Hall, London
  • 262 people signed up and 40 sessions were run
  • Diverse pitches, including how to get / get rid of RSI

In early 2014 a UKIP councillor blamed the winter floods on gay marriage.

“In Govcamp I repeatedly find a generous, hilarious and brilliant community of friends and strangers who share a passion for making public services work better for people. It’s a safe place to share problems, test out ideas, learn new things and feel the tremendous warm boost of knowing you’re not on your own” – Janet Hughes

2014 to 2016 logo

  • #ukgc15, 24 January 2015 @ Microsoft, London
  • 230 people signed up and 39 sessions were run
  • Priorities for the 1st 100 days of the Parliamentary Digital Service gets discussed

In March 2015, John Stewart leaves The Daily Show after 16 years.

“A session at #ukgc15 was discussing the possibilities and pitfalls of distributed ledgers (blockchain) when Graeme Jones stunned the room by announcing that his team (in the Isle of Mann government) were already starting to use one as a companies register.  This was more than a year before the chief government scientist suggested that departments might want to look at use cases” – Paul McTurk

2014 to 2016 logo

  • #ukgc16, 23 January 2016 @ The National Audit Office, London
  • 236 people signed up and 39 sessions were run
  • A beta version of the open data board game “Datopolis” gets played

In 2016…. actually you know what, let’s not talk about 2016.

“Janet Hughes at #ukgc16 pitched a session about “whether boldness should be an explicit value of the Civil Service”.  It was clearly an idea she had been mulling for a while and (I think) the great feedback confirmed that it was an idea worth spreading so she published a blog which has since been re-tweeted and shared across the service.  Agile policy development in action!” – Paul McTurk

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