This August a horde of geeks, inventors and artists will descend on Liverpool to share stories, swap ideas and generally have good time. Some are local, some from far flung corners of the world, but they’re all coming here. Why? Because of a little event called OggCamp. What the hell is OggCamp I hear you say? Well I’m glad you asked.

OggCamp is an annual gathering of people who care about Free Software, Open Source, collaborative art, Open Hardware, hacking, and all forms of creativity. It’s a conference with a difference and the largest Open Source event in the UK. It’s a music festival with circuit boards rather than your average IT conference.

It’s organised by a handful of dedicated volunteers, completely free to enter and backed by some of the largest names in technology: Google, Canonical and O’Reilly, to mention just a few. The event has been running in various locations since 2009 and last came to Liverpool in 2010.

This year Open Labs @ LJMU and Bytemark Web Hosting are kindly supporting us and enabling OggCamp12 to return to the city – something I’m very proud of as an inhabitant. There are four talk tracks over two days with all kinds of topics: programming and development, censorship, digital rights, copyright and patents, politics, music, graphics, filmmaking, photography and more.

We have a dedicated Open Hardware room where we’ll be joined by some of the most compelling projects around.

You can meet the hardware guru behind the ever popular Raspberry Pi, a small low-cost Linux computer aimed at inspiring kids to write computer code again. Remember the days of typing games into your computer by copying them from magazines? That hacker culture got lost and we need the next generation to get excited about creating cool software themselves.

For the photographers amongst us, you can learn how to calibrate your screen to show perfect colours as they were intended with Richard Hughes and his amazing ColorHug project. It’s a small open hardware device that Richard designed and made available to the public in the spirit of Open Source. Adapt, improve, contribute and collaborate, that’s what it’s all about.

You can build your own 8-bit computer from scratch with Fignition creator Julz Skidmore. Doc Brown would be proud of you. Then, once you’re done you can learn how to develop games for it and much more.

Help us reproduce a RepRap 3D printer and build a brand new one over the weekend. If you haven’t heard of 3D printing yet you’re in for a treat. It’s how many of the products you use every day are prototyped by manufacturers. The device moulds melted plastic into any 3D shape you desire. We’ll teach you how to do it and better yet, even show you how the tools are made.

If you want to give a talk or run a session at OggCamp you can. That’s what it’s about. Simply text your idea and the dedicated software we’ve built organises it into the schedule. People can even vote on it via the web or SMS. And to round things off, we even have a special guest speaker this year by video: The one and only Mr Stephen Fry. I still can’t quite believe that.

I could bore you for hours, but I won’t. The moral of OggCamp is that good ideas are so much better when they’re shared, otherwise they die out. Come along and learn something, teach something or just hang out and enjoy yourself.

This year I was determined OggCamp should return to Liverpool. There are so many creative and intelligent people here. I want to show off our city to the world, let everybody know what we’re about and stick a drawing pin in the technology map. I also hope bringing great thinkers from other places can rub off a little on us locally.

If we can use tools like the Raspberry Pi to inspire kids about the possibilities of technology we’ll all be better off. It could stimulate new businesses in the area and help secure our future. I certainly hope so. But besides all that we’ll have a damn good time trying.

OggCamp 12
10am-5pm, Saturday 18 / Sunday 19 August
LJMU Art & Design Academy, Brownlow Hill
Tickets are free, sign up via Eventbrite

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