I attended the relaunched Bristol Skillswap last night at Goldbrick House in Bristol. The new format is called “Talking Points” – five chairs in a circle, one of which is always empty. Someone starts a (web related) subject to discuss with the other seated people, when someone in the room wants to join in, they claim the empty chair and someone else has to leave. When this was being explained by organise Laura Francis, I was initially worried that this was all a bit musical chairs, and end up with four people sat there trying to persuade people to join them. In reality it worked straight away, and there was always people ready to jump in and claim the empty chair. If anyone needed proof that geeks can have the same arguments in real life that they do on a mailing list or forum – this was it!
The first session was kicked off by Andy Budd – “Are standards still relevant?”, followed by Elliot Jay Stocks (Carsonified), followed by Matt Jones (Dopplr). Matts session was more of a traditional talk format – but the relaxed atmosphere and free beer ensured plenty of audience participation in the form of heckling.