MashupCamp jumped the shark

I’m just gonna come out at say it: MashupCamp took what was a great thing, co-opted it and sold it out. I know, I was there.

On today, there’s a pretty silly puff piece about the camp, focusing mainly on David Berlind, one of the organizers (who happens to work for the same company as the publication who published the article).

The article talks about the unique nature of MashupCamp, how it was somewhat free-form, where the attendees created the experience as the event unfolded, rather than having it all planned up front. And the article makes it sound as if David Berlind invented the concepts.

That’s bullshit.

Last August, me and some friends instigated an event called BarCamp, in which we took the same approach– no pre planning of discussions/panels/sessions and lose organization. But, we didn’t invent the concept, we borrowed it, without apology, from FooCamp, “Friends of O’Reilly” Camp, which was running at the same time (I’ll tell more of that story later.).

They had great idea, which was inspired, I’m sure, by Open/Free software communities. FooCamp’s great, we took their ideas, but we also did it in 6 days, for a couple thousand dollars!

Less than 10 people, six days, a few thousand dollars!

Let me repeat: few, fast, cheap!

Oh yeah, and about 300 people showed up.

Let me repeat, three-hundred.

The formula’s been repeated, too, with subsequent BarCamps in other locations – few, fast and cheap works.

So, then comes MashupCamp, which is planned in ‘a couple of months,’ has corporate sponsors but still asks attendees for donations, has a closed attendee list (not all of which actually show up) and it gets billed as ‘the new thing’. Please. This is ridiculous.

Update: I forgot, ‘MashupCamp’ has actually been trademarked, too. Lame. (thanks for the reminder Chris).

Update: Eugene Kim says it better than I can:

But what most people fail to get is that you can’t just steal the name and the format, slap together a Wiki, and expect to replicate the spirit of the original event, just as you can’t just slap an OpenSource license on a piece of software and expect the hacker community to shower you with love. You need to be authentic.

19 Responses to “MashupCamp jumped the shark”

  1. Chris Messina Says:

    Dude, you said it better than I ever could. No matter how hard I try to swallow it, it still sits funny with me.

    Maybe I’ll license the Mashup Camp name next year and do my own event and see how it goes.

    We’ll see.

  2. FactoryCity Says:

    On shark jumping mashes

    Ryan lays it down. Ok, maybe I stick by my original snark.
    No Tags…

  3. Chris Radcliff Says:

    I already called bullshit on the sellout idea over at Chris’s blog, but I’ll repeat the key idea here: Calling Mashup Camp a sellout because of the way it was presented in the press is missing the point.

    If it turned out to be just a big Microsoft (or Google or Yahoo or even EVDB) demo in sheep’s clothing, then I could see your beef about it. (Oh, those companies tried, I know. People just didn’t pay any attention.) What I saw instead were sessions on federated identity, creative commons, wikis, microformats…, all being attended by those same megabehemoths. And they were *listening*. If that isn’t something awesome, then I’m just naive.

    Not to get personal, but ask yourself whether the problem wasn’t Mashup Camp, but that focused on David rather than “me and some friends”. If that’s the case, imagine how Tim O’Reilly must feel.

  4. scott Says:

    This post reeks of bitter jealousy. I think the best thing about mashup camp was that the agenda was set by developers to service the real needs of developers and not to service the egos of wannabe A list bloggers. I guess the atmosphere was too egalitarian for you and there was not enough ass kissing of the technorati going on.

  5. ryan Says:


    Calling Mashup Camp a sellout because of the way it was presented in the press is missing the point.

    The way it was present in the press is certainly a problem, especially since I know that the writer knew about previous events like BarCamp.

    all being attended by those same megabehemoths. And they were *listening*

    I also seem to recall employees of megabehemoths sitting at BarCamp and listening, still they aren’t really different there.

    Not to get personal, but

    Of course, you did get personal, but anyway… whenever we were interviewed about BarCamp, we made sure to give credit where credit was due- FooCamp and OSS, among others.


    I think the best thing about mashup camp was that the agenda was set by developers

    Uh, and all the BarCamps have been different? We had no A-list bloggers planning BarCamp. And when the ‘A-listers’ showed up, they didn’t make much of an impact on the event- no one really cared.

    Scott, my point is that MashupCamp was actually less egalitarian than previous events, there was less freedom. I’m not asking anyone to kiss my ass, but in the long speech given thanking people who ‘inspired’ the event, not once were FooCamp or BarCamp mentioned.

    -Camp has become a buzzword, a marketing term which people now use to pimp their event. This is how the shark is jumped.

  6. scott Says:

    > not once were FooCamp or BarCamp mentioned

    That was probably an oversight. Look at the bottom of the home page.

    At mashup camp I had the freedom to call out the lead developers of Google’s home page and Microsoft’s gadgets on how they could add value that would benefit third party developers instead of just themselves. I was able to evaluate for myself what part of their response was bs and what wasn’t because it was a conversation. That was cool. I had access to key decision makers from IBM and Intel. Very useful. That said, there was blatent marketing going on but it came from companies like Ning and Zend.

    My impression of BarCamp was that it existed primarily to push the blogosphere’s political agendas and find ways to enhance the power of bloggers and not simply to enable developers working together to identify and solve specific problems. I could be wrong but this impression is why I did not attend. It could be that the BarCamp crowd is not interested in attracting developers like me. There is nothing wrong with that. I have been told by the Technorati that my opinions are not relevant or useful so I am used to dealing with that mentality.

    Yes, ‘Camp’ is now a buzzword and a marketing term. I don’t see that as a bad thing and I don’t think that MashupCamp tarnished the brand.

  7. Tidy Bowl Says:

    At the risk of getting flamed, I have to ask…

    Are you really surprised?

    American society has such a sense of entitlement in the 21st century. Speaking in generalities, people see something they need, and they just take it. Enforcing trademarks and copyrights has become a constant battle. And as far as I can tell, FooCamp and BarCamp haven’t even trademarked their concept.

    I’m not saying it’s right, but it is reality. Like Scott said, ‘camp’ has become a buzzword. It seems to me that anyone who creates an idea like that of FooCamp/BarCamp/MashupCamp needs to be ready to deal with everything that goes with it, both good and bad.

  8. Tantek Says:

    As commented over at factoryjoe before the factory experienced database table corruption, It is perhaps the inevitable destiny of any successful idea to mutate into unpredictable and strange forms. Perhaps MashupCamp is the Redhat to BarCamp’s Linux?

    In addition, I did find it quite odd how often the so-call Open Space Initiative (or WTF it was called) was credited with the attendee-driven format, whereas I know for a fact that I got the idea/implementation from Tim O’Reilly’s FooCamp, who AFAIK invented it himself (or at least was the first to actually succesfully implement it in a geek/developer context). The “Open Space…” stuff sounds like a bunch of theory/books that have been floating around and now looking to take credit for others’ independent innovations and implementations. Just my suspicion. You’d have to ask Tim to find out where he got the idea (or how he came up with it).

  9. Annoyingly Cheerful » Blog Archive » Pseudo-Unconferences Says:

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  10. Edward Vielmetti Says:

    Open Space as an idea goes back to Harrison Owen in 1985 – read for its brief history.

  11. Dave’s Wordpress Blog » Scripting News for 3/3/2006 Says:

    […] for 3/3/2006 Posted in Scripting News at 9:25 pm by Dave Winer Ryan King says Mashup Camp was a shark-jumper.  […]

  12. Enric Says:

    For me after awhile meetings and events like this whether they cost $0 or $2,000 lose significance if they are just social. There’s quite useful connections and different information. But the real value is in getting work done. I find what SuperHappyDevHouse is doing in getting together to code and produce work more valueable, productive and interesting.

  13. Kevin Marks Says:

    And FooCamp was an extension of the very successful ‘self-organising evening talks’ that O’Reilly had at their other conferences (such as eTech 2003, where a lot of the ‘social software’ folks coalesced, and eTech 2004 where Tantek and I introduced microformats).

  14. sean coon Says:

    and i went to summer camp where… who cares?

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