Conversation, Connection, and Community – from the Hashtag to BarCamps with Chris Messina & Ben Edwards

If you have never been to Minnebar before, one of the things we do to kick off our day is called Sesssion 0. All other sessions throughout the day are a break-out or ‘choose your own adventure’ style. Session 0 is a little different. We start our day together with a dynamic technology community leader, and this year we are honored to be joined by our co-founder Ben Edwards and Chris Messina – best known as the inventor of the hashtag, and co-founder of the very first BarCamp.

Here is a little about Chris (in his own words): I am a Product Lead focused on issuer experience at Republic, an inclusive fundraising platform that is disrupting conventional venture capital. I often play product therapist (you can book me via Superpeer!) and help founders and makers nail their launches on Product Hunt. 🤪 Generally, I try not to take myself too seriously. #️⃣ I’m best known for inventing the hashtag, but I’ve also designed products and experiences for Google and Uber, founded startups, and changed the world with the creation of other social innovations, like coworking and BarCamp. 👔 I am a product designer and have spoken around the world about social technology, product design, synthetic media, founder culture and mental fitness. 🗣 I have twice spoken at TEDx, and SXSW, Google I/O, Microsoft’s Future Decoded and many other leading conferences.

I have been quoted in media outlets like The New York Times, Business Week, LA Times, Washington Post, and Wired. I have also appeared (briefly!) in The Social Dilemma on Netflix, and in books like No Filter by Sarah Frier, and Billion Dollar Loser by Reeves Wiedeman. Throughout my career, I have created movements online and off, and acted as catalyst for change in large and small organizations. In 2004, I helped to organize the grassroots movement that propelled Mozilla Firefox to its first 100 million downloads. In 2005, I co-organized the first BarCamp and then popularized the unconference event model to over 350 cities around the world. In 2006, I, along with several friends, opened the first coworking spaces in the world, giving rise to a global movement. Then in 2007, I invented the hashtag, changing the social media landscape forever by providing a means to galvanize popular social movements.