BAR Camp!

Ross Mayfield writes:

Couldn’t make it to FooCamp this year? Well, some cool folks are organizing BarCamp in Palo Alto this weekend. Socialtext is donating the use of it’s office and wifi. They set up a wiki, you know what to do.

It’s terrific to see Ross and crew doing this. We’d love to invite anyone and everyone to FOO Camp — there are lots of people who we know and love, and lots of people we don’t know and would love if we knew them — but we just can’t accomodate everyone. (For an explanation of how hard it is to create the invite list, see my comments over on Om Malik’s blog.)

Since there isn’t any pre-organization of the program (except for who we invite), all it takes is a space, a wiki, and an invite list. The conference plan itself is done on Friday night with an old-fashioned paper wiki — a couple of big write on board with slots for all the available times and rooms. As noted above, the invite list is the hardest part. (The other hard part is cost — feeding a couple of hundred people for a weekend, renting showers and a big tent, costs tens of thousands of dollars — but a smaller event with offsite food nearby could offload even that cost.)

Net net, if you like the FOO Camp idea, and weren’t invited, see if you can get an invite to Bar Camp, or roll your own. We’d be glad to provide advice, as would people who’ve been to previous FOO Camps. (Yossi Vardi’s Kinner Net Camp in Israel is a great example.)

  • Tim, regarding this sentence: “The one sure way to prove yourself not a friend (and to make it really hard to invite you if we did make a mistake) is to make a public stink about it” … I must say: AMEN! This sentence makes me happy monkey.

  • BarCamp is obviously a great idea.

    But the downside is that their seems to be some animosity developing between some of the people in each “camp”.

    What if we turn this into an opportunity instead of focusing on the negative?

    Why don’t we create a model to propagate FooCamp throughout the world so that their are simultaneous Foo/BarCamps worldwide? In Boston, Palo Alto, Tehran, Moscow, Bombay, and Baghdad.

    An Earth Day for geeks?

  • Thanks Tim for teaching me to live the foocamp life. I wrote more here: http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/08/17.html#a10897

  • Nivi, you’re entirely right. The Bar camp organizers (which includes me!) are all about positivity and making this a good thing ™ for everyone, including Foo Camp and Foo Campers. There’s no animosity in our plans or agenda — and unfortunately, Om, posing as the media, is spinning this story off course. Om, why did you do it!

    Let’s hope the feedback from the community can correct the signal to noise ratio and prove that we’re all in this together.

    By the way, a Bar camp NYC is already in the works… Anyone in NYC wanna help make it happen?

  • Spreading the FooBarCamp meme.

    http://www.nivi.com/blog/article/foocamp-barcamp-docamp/

    I’m suggesting we call the global version DoCamp.

  • McD

    I can’t imagine that the number of true geeks that wouldn’t attend a FooCamp (if invited) would go over 250. I believe that this venture into Publishing R&D will benefit millions of geeks ver the next few years. Thank you for the transparency on the issue… anyone that has ever had to create a finite invitation list should be able to relate to some degree (weddings, barbecues, etc). Effective business requires making the tough calls… and making them with public censure is even harder. If you’re not upsetting someone… you’re not leading. Lead on. Your critics distinguish themselves in ways that do them little credit. Sour grapes? Professional envy? Ill-humor?
    Mean spirit? Poor guests? Control freaks? Mentally unstable? A party of FooCamp detractors would probably be interesting from a social science perspective… I doubt it would have anything appraoching a flat heirarchy but that’s just a guess.

  • joe gratz

    I think what is upsetting to people on face value is not that you have an event that is exclusive. That’s your right, you’re paying for it, it’s your place, etc. We all have events in our houses and businesses that are exclusive. But we take care not to hurt other’s feelings when we do the invites, explain what’s happening, etc. Rather, in your case, it’s the way you do it. Socially, it’s exclusionary to publicly list the attendees, have lots of flickr photos appear (you could ask guest to be sensitive about it and not post the tags and label it) and tell people to express themselves in ways that smack of McCarthy era divisiveness.

    If your goal is to make people feel badly that aren’t in your click, you’re succeeding beautifully. Telling people you’ll punish them for speaking out does wonders for that:

    “The one sure way to prove yourself not a friend (and to make it really hard to invite you if we did make a mistake) is to make a public stink about it”

    So, we have to keep quiet lest we end up in the O’Reilly doghouse?

    Or this one, where you are essentially saying you won’t tell people directly what’s up with them, but rather deal with them in a passive-aggressive way by simply not inviting them back or never inviting them at all. It shows an amazing tendency toward perpetuating high school popularity contests with yourself at the center:

    “Sixth cut: the bozo filter. Someone who has been at a previous FOO camp, and whom we had complaints about for some reason or another, or who has built that kind of reputation on the net. Unfortunately, you probably don’t know who you are, but other people do.”

    These are human beings you’re talking about. You don’t have to like them or talk to them if you don’t want to, and sometimes people are very unpleasant, but don’t position yourself as the filter of the tech community (emphasis on community, where room must be made for everyone to some degree) and expect that people will like or trust you after you tell them that if they are ‘bad’ for speaking their minds ‘you’ll show them’ by not letting into the next event, or if they are ‘bad’ for some other reason, you simply won’t tell them. What happens if someone at Foocamp says something false about another camper? Do you check it out, or just add the mistaken information to some list, and send that ‘bad’ person off, wondering what happened?

    I know there are people online and off that are difficult to deal with or sometimes unpleasant. I understand not wanting to spend time with them. But don’t tell everyone these kinds of things, even if you do actually think them. The rest of the tech community right now is wondering how they’ve been ‘bad’ and is spending time getting angry with you for speaking this way.

    My experience is that the folks in the tech community that are difficult is that they are much, much easier to deal with if you speak to the directly. If there is a problem, address it like an adult. This isn’t sophomore year of high school. You don’t have to invite them over. But passive-aggressive ignoring of them causes them to yell louder, and bad mouth you. Be a bigger man than they are by acting like a man.

    Quite frankly, if I were having people over, I wouldn’t want you there because socially you have no ability to control yourself by keeping exclusionary ideas like this to yourself. You would succeed in alienating all my guests. Do you really want to behave this way, as a technology community leader?

    It’s appalling. You should appologize to everyone now.

  • Wanderer

    First, for the record, I’m someone who’s never gonna be invited to a Foo Camp. I’m not a mover in tech and not even very interesting at parties. I’m just a wandering blog commenter, scattering my opinions across the net like empty beer cans. That said:

    > But we take care not to hurt other’s feelings
    > when we do the invites, explain what’s
    > happening, etc.

    Hey, Joe, you didn’t invite me to your last party! And you’ve never explained why! My feelings are hurt. I’m gonna bawl for weeks.

    > …you could ask guest to be sensitive about it
    > and not post the tags and label it …

    So it’s okay for them to get together if they keep it a secret? But nobody should admit to going to what is at its core a business function, let alone admit having fun, because your poor widdle feewings might get hurted? *whisper* Dude, this is not elementary school where you have to invite all the kids in your class to your birthday party.

    > Telling people you’ll punish them for speaking
    > out does wonders for that:

    Let me ask you something here: If I throw a public tantrum and tell your friends you suck because you didn’t invite me to your cookout, is this going to make you MORE or LESS willing to invite me to the next one? Are you going to say “Well, Wanderer threw a fit and insulted me in public, and that’s the kind of people I want at my cookout” or “I don’t want someone like that Wanderer at my cookout; I don’t need people who might have tantrums if they don’t like the food or something”?

    > So, we have to keep quiet lest we end up in the
    > O’Reilly doghouse?

    Naw, you have to not act like a jerk if you want people to invite you places.

    > Or this one, where you are essentially saying
    > you won’t tell people directly what’s up with
    > them, but rather deal with them in a
    > passive-aggressive way by simply not inviting
    > them back or never inviting them at all.

    That’s normally called “politeness.” If someone acts improperly at a social event, the polite thing to do isn’t to tear them down, or have a big confrontation with them, or argue it out on the Net. It’s simply to not socialize with them in the future. And as for never inviting them at all … nobody, not you, not me, not Tim O’Reilly, has any obligation to contact all the people they don’t invite to some event and tell them why they weren’t invited. “Hey, Joe, I thought about inviting to you my party last week, but you’re just plain boring.” Now that’s where you get into high-school cliques and pettiness. Grown-ups handle it differently.

    > You don’t have to like them or talk to them if
    > you don’t want to, and sometimes people are very
    > unpleasant, but don’t position yourself as the
    > filter of the tech community …

    He’s not. He’s just the filter of the Foo Camp — which is HIS damn party, so he’s got every right to be that filter. Do you invite people you don’t like, don’t want to talk to, and you believe are very unpleasant, to YOUR parties?

    > The rest of the tech community right now is
    > wondering how they’ve been ‘bad’ and is spending
    > time getting angry with you for speaking this
    > way.

    No, just you.

    Most people can understand the concept of there being 4x as many people as there are places to put them. Just a handful are having temper tantrums. I think that says all that needs to be said. That, and one more little hint. *whisper* The sun doesn’t shine out of where you think it does.

  • With all the technology development and virtual tools at our disposal, isn’t it interesting that we still haven’t been able to overcome physical context and space limitations when the interaction is deemed important?

    Maybe there should be a conference on freeing us from physical space conferences. But then, where would it be held?

  • Mobile Jones —

    We’re thinking of having a component of next year’s FOO Camp in Second Life.

  • Since Bar Camp was a wide open invite and they had killer connectivity I was able to follow and even participate from across the country on Friday and Saturday, which was fantastic. Those of use that were virtual had “legs” moving the streaming audio/video and were interacting on the IRC with many who were actually there.

    I knew 15 to 20 people or more at both camp so I will get a good flavor from both in a few days. There were some stellar sessions in both locations ,but my remoteness (having other repsonsibilites that come with actually being in the house and not away) limited my involvement to the amount I really would have liked.

    Bar Camps open camp approach really had me thinking about pulling together something similar, but maybe more focussed. Not as focussed nor as intense as a sprint but a camp around a topic or two that are related. Setting up open collision spaces for ideas and interaction has put many ideas in turbo mode and that has benefited the whole community.

  • Glenn Mandelkern

    Bar Camp seems roughly analogous to what some in the jazz and blues scene see as “jam nights.” While the “bozo factor” is something that gets tolerated at jams, the real magic happens when somebody who does have talent shows up and says something meaningful.

    That talented person could be someone new yet to be discovered. That talented person could be someone who did prove themselves once, yet now is needing and/or wanting to shop himself around to a different form of music, even for the dastardly act of wanting to find their next paying gigs.

    I often wished that the technical world did have the equivalent of the “jam session,” where someone could indeed show their specialties, turn others onto it, and eventually land paying gigs. I often wished too that technical people didn’t find it a sin to be anti-social, neither with themselves nor non-techies who may also have the money to spend to one day fund or buy technical products.

    It’s interesting to note that some who were once full techies in the Silicon Valley now dedicate themselves more to music fulltime, especially because it’s more sociable. And sometimes, it actually pays! Maybe BarCamp is a step in that direction.

  • I like the idea od world wide Foo/bar camps. I personally have a very vague idea of what it in fact is. But reading the post and the comments I feel it’s something really cool.