As I write this, BarCamp NOLA (that's short for New Orleans, Lousiana) is well under way. We've just had lunch -- very delicious, as one would expect from one of the best food cities in North America -- and the afternoon sessions are just getting started. I'm watching Jonathan Kay from Grasshopper Group (they make Grasshopper and Chargify) talking about brand marketing and brand loyalty.

When people think of New Orleans, they think of this:


And yes, it's a part of what makes the city, but there's more to New Orleans than the Saints and Mardi Gras. It's a place of industry, beautiful architecture, artisans, musicians (I've never seen so many people walking around with tubas!), a vibrant creative class and strong entrepreneurial spirit. 


It's the perfect environment for an indie/startup tech scene, and a quick look around the Warehouse and Arts District confirms that. That's why there are a number of tech gatherings in New Orleans every month: Net2NO, GNOCode, NOLA PHP and Ruby Bayou. That's why there's a coworking space like Launchpad. That's why there's a BarCamp NOLA 4.

Here are some scenes from the start of the day:


The organizers Matt Tritico and Nicky Mast told me that the New Orleans crowd is a little more laid back than most, which means that they tend to come to events a little late. This was not the case this time: a lot of people came in a good deal earlier than the posted 9:30 a.m. start time. It's a sign of how greatly anticipated this event was.

The initial plan was to hold the opening meeting inside the Launchpad space, but even with the early crowd (and more expected to follow), the room was already getting crowded:


So the announcement was made: let's move the opening meeting to the building's lobby!


We carried our chairs into the T-shaped space of the lobby. Here's the top of the T:


And here's the up-and-down part of the T:


Once we were all gathered in the lobby, Matt and Nicky got the day started with the opening announcements.


Part of the opening announcements was something that most BarCamps don't (or can't) do: they have everyone there introduce themselves and say a quick blurb about what skills and talents they bring to BarCamp and why they're there.


It took about ten or fifteen minutes for the entire process, but it did help people get a better idea of who they should probably talk to and find others with matching interests:


And once the opening meeting was done, it was time to make our way to the schedule grid.


Next: The schedule grid and the morning sessions.