The biggest surprise at Barcamp Auckland 2 was the organiser itself. With his 17 years Ludwig Wendzich was a very enthusiastic and professional organiser.
This is the original Interview with him. The German translation can be found here. If you like to leave comment, please do it there.
1. Could you describe yourself with 5 Tags?
„Artist“, „Designer“, „Developer“, „Barcamp Organiser“ and „fledgling entrepreneur“. These five things are definitely what I strive to be right now.
2. What gave you that idea to put on a Barcamp in Auckland and how long did you need from the idea to realization?
A certain Erica O’Grady stumbled across my blog and started a dialogue with me. Conversation ensued and we soon became friends. However, one thing kept bugging me! She kept talking off this Barcamp she was going to and that one. I tried, and tried to find one in NZ but just couldn’t. At the start of 2007 I opened a page on barcamp.org.z for Barcamp Auckland. By the time I got around to organising it, (around the end of 2007) I was still the only person organising such an event.
In the end though, Wellington and Christchurch were much more agile and got an an event together in a short period of time and held Barcamps before I held mine on the 15th of December. I think a big difference for them was that they were already involved in the web community in their respective areas and already knew a lot of people. At this point in time I knew noone in NZ that worked in web development, let alone in Auckland, which made things a lot more difficult.
3. You are 17 now and were 16 at the time you launched the first Barcamp. This is remarkable and impressive. Did you ever encounter problems concerning your age? For instance sponsors doubting your idea or accommodating the organisation with your school duties.
Age was definitely a big issue from both Sponsors and attendees. I sent out hundreds of emails to companies about sponsorship but it wasn’t til I started talking to people that things started happening. My first sponsor was Microsoft and you will not believe how over the moon I was about this! Soon I met some people who were involved in the web community already and then things started moving forward and I got my next couple of sponsors.
One thing I learnt though, if you want something from someone, talk to them. Email is so impersonal and easy to ignore. When someone is talking to you, it’s much harder to not listen, and when you have a good case, it’s harder to say No – yet still so very easy!
The other issue with my age were getting attendees to buy into my ability to pull this off! People coudn’t, or just didn’t want to, believe that a teenager was able to pull something like this off. I’m very grateful to those who put their faith in me at the start!
This time around finding sponsors and getting people interested in attending was so much easier. The success of the last event removed all doubts from people’s minds that I could pull this off.
4. I’ve seen that everyone felt very comfortable and many people even missed some sessions to have a chat. Do you therefore plan to extend the number of days or attendees next time?
If I could then I would definitely make the event longer. The reasons I don’t is simple. Money and venue. The current venue won’t allow us to stay over at the school which is traditionally what happens. We could have people find their own accommodation but the next problem really puts a halt on that. Money. As you can see, unlike other Barcamps, I try to deliver a very high quality event. From the venue, to the food, to the shirt. I’m definitely still learning and making contacts that would help me cut costs and retain the high quality.
For the next one this is definitely one of my aims, but I’m going to need a lot more support from the community to pull that off! Mainl because I may need to find another venue (or pay for the current one – I’ll no longer be a student of the school) and an extra day means I’m going to need twice as much food. Granted, most of the cost is for the shirts and so getting enough sponsors for another day of food won’t be twice as much work as this year!
5. Have you ever attended other Barcamps, in NZ or overseas?
I was invited to Foocamp at the beginning of this year, but that’s about it. I have yet to attend a Wellington or Christchurch Barcamp though I’d really like to!
6. Now some questions about the web community in NZ. Do you have in your opinion a strong solidarity and intercommunication by blogs, social platforms and events like webmondays or barcamps in NZ?
In Auckland, NZ the community is definitely tight-knit. I can’t comment on our web presence, most people have blogs but they aren’t really a main HUB for communication. I can say though, that John Ballinger’s Web Meetup is that HUB that keeps everyone together. It occurs monthly and is definitely the place to go if you are new in town (meetup.co.nz). Everyone in the community seem to be friends and spend time, NOT discussing web development too!
7. In Germany we have many domestic web services and international players like youtube, amazon, facebook or ebay offer their services in German language. This is comfortable but also separates you somehow from the world (at least in my opinion). After I came to NZ I was surprised not finding big players like Amazon or ebay here. However you have a domestic „ebay“ called trademe.co.nz. Is this turn to domestic services also a rule in NZ? Or an erroneous belief of mine and you rather use worldwide services in General such as facebook or linkedIn?
I think it’s definitely a „first to market“ thing. If eBay came to NZ and delivered a quality product before trademe we’d all be using that right now, but Sam Morgan saw a gap in the market and took it! There have been many other home baked auctions sites that haven’t taken off because they weren’t first to market. If there’s something good out there, New Zealander’s will use it. If not, we’ll fill the void!
8. Are there any typical NZ websites, blogs, web services or online communities you can recommend?
Typical sites? I don’t know. I really think the web is a global medium and we’ve embraced that. I can say that trademe is definitely our poster child :) But other than that, we all use Youtube, Gmail, Google, Flickr etc.
9. In Germany the online world has partly a hostile attitude towards lawyers. Many blogs and shops are victims of costly legal warnings and lawsuits. This despite the fact, that many infringements are minor such as using a part of a map, a small piece of music or criticising companies. Do you have the same problems in NZ or did you hitherto hade a legally peaceful web life?
I’m 17 so my interaction with laywers is very limited. All I know is that we are definitely a more open community than most – I’d think, and that most people would embrace things like Creative Commons. I cannot think of a case where anyone sued someone else for copyright infringement in this country. Major, news-making ones anyway.
10. And now my last question. You moved when you were 7 from South Africa to NZ. Your mother, who was among your staff at the Barcamp, told me your granddad is German and you can imagine to have moved to Germany instead. Do you still would like to live there? And do you have any plans to visit Germany and maybe attend a Barcamp there?
I really want to work abroad. I’d like to work for myself so having control of where I go and what I do is very important to me. Going to German is very high on that list – in fact I’m considering going to live in Germany, atleast for a while! While I’m there I’ll be on the lookout for the tech scene so make yourselves known. Attending Barcamps will be a priority, and who knows, I might run one while I’m there! Show you Germans how it’s done ;)
- Website of Barcamp Auckland
- Ludwig Wendzich’s Blog
- Second Draw Down -A podcast produced by Novia NG and Ludwig
- Ludwigs Twitteraccount
- Pictures at Flickr
- My Life in Auckland (German)