Fun in the sun – a personal take on [#drumbeat]

I’ve committed to writing up an overview of my experiences at Drumbeat but I am going to give myself a little distance before I settle down to do that but I wanted to get some general impressions of the trip down.

There were alot of little wins for me on the logistical front – I managed the trip without once having to use a cab – strictly public transport and foot powered (well apart from the flight!), the AirBnB experience worked out great. The apartment was lovely and in a great area just across the road from the Estacio de Franca which is a stunning building.

Barcelona is a very attractive and sophisticated city with real architectural marvels around every corner but it also (certainly in the areas I was based) feels very sketchy. There were many, many thefts while we were at the conference and a healthy paranoia was required most of the time. It never felt aggressive though – you just needed to keep your wits about you.

The fact that it was lovely weather non-stop didn’t hurt it has to be said!

I got to visit the Nou Camp, go to the Picasso Museum, watch breakdancers at 2am on La Rambla and eat breakfast with the locals at La Boqueria.

I failed a bit on the local bar front though – I found them small, smokey and a bit intimidating – despite the friendliness of the patrons and staff for the most part. This led to me retreating to Dunnes Irish bar on a regular basis for free wifi and a break. I do consider this to have been useless of me and aim to do better in the future.

I also got to meet some amazing people – in many ways that is my barometer of a great event – I’m never that big a fan of talks and I’m certainly no hacker so it is the conversations around the edges that I find most interesting.

So in no particular order I’d like to thank the following people for contributing to my Festival experience (there were dozens more but these guys spring to mind);

Phil Sturgeon for bringing a bit of the West Country attitude to Spain and his ‘dad with a libido’ Graham Brown-Martin for both interesting, challenging conversations and drunken madness.

Heather Leson another of the blogging team who brought an energy and enthusiasm to every conversation (once she’d had some coffee and time to wake up!)

Issa Mahasneh
from the Jordan Open Source Association for the chat about the opportunities for OERs in the Arab world.

Michelle Thorne for always taking the time to say hi despite seeming to always be in several sessions at once (and being another of the ‘make Jukesie feel ancient’ team!)

Pippa Buchanan who worked her colourful socks off but remained an oasis of calm throughout the event.

Chris Pinchen an ex-pat Barca based Brit who spent some time living in Brizzle. Thanks for the beers and great conversation – a much needed sense check amongst all the madness.

Desigan and Christian both from Mozilla who brought a bit more of a restrained, UK attitude to things rather than the West Coast revival meeting hooting and hollering that often dominated.

Simon Buckingham-Shum for the company and conversation during a sun drenched lunch sat in the square with unidentified food from the local bakery.

Prize winning Sufian Hassan from Young Rewired State – who was officially President of the aforementioned ‘make Jukesie feel ancient’ team!

Brian and Scott – and John and Novak – for the beers and rescuing my flagging mood (and agreeing to come to the cheesy Irish pub!) on the Friday.

Also Heidi Chen and Matt Garcia who I only really got to say hi to but who were so helpful before the event.

Like I said there were many, many other great people and that it what I’ll remember in the years to come.

I’ll leave things with this tweet from Phil as it is too funny not to post somewhere;!/philsturgeon/status/393410523439104


  1. Hola, Matt
    It was nice to talk with you at the in-front FAD stairs.
    Knowing the area, ( I’m a local ), I was kind of surprised that Mozilla choosed that venue; despite other obvious pros.
    Since a few years ago there’s a real problem with thefts around touristic areas as Las Ramblas. and specially at El Raval. Even with political implications ( and here ).
    Personally, I feel a bad about festival participants that have suffered from it.
    Cheers, Matt.
    Pity, I didn’t had the chance to have a beer with you & Phil. 😦

  2. Daniel – it was lovely to meet you and it is a pity we didn’t have that beer – it was all a bit chaotic (I lost track of Phil for most of Friday!)

    If you ever in the UK for anything let me know and I’ll get the beers 🙂

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