Archive for the 'mashupcamp' Category

Live by the Snark, die by the Snark

Saturday, March 4th, 2006

I wrote about how I thought MashupCamp was kinda lame and exploited the meme of ‘the Camps’ awhile ago, but its recently gotten some push-back from Doc Searls which I’d like to rebut by quoting liberally and interspersing my comments…

So I gotta ask… Why knock David for what an article said about him? Why sarcastically suggest a puffing connection between between David and the article when all the evidence you’ve got is coincidence? Why knock one camp for not being a clone of another? Why “My camp is better than your camp”?

Actually, Doc, there was more than coincidence. People who were interviewed at MashupCamp told the reporter about BarCamp (and FooCamp and SHDH and all the other inspirations for MashupCamp), which I, in my own opinion, think are very important back-story to the MashupCamp. MashupCamp was not an isolated phenomenon. And was not the beginning of somehting new, but part of something that’s been going on for awhile. The article irresponsibly ripped it out of context.

My criticism here was probably a bit misdirected, I should have made it more clear that there was irresponsible journalism going on, in addition to shark-jumping of the ‘Camp movement.

Also, on the “my camp is better than your camp” thing- well I hate to say it, but our camp was better than their ‘camp'[1]. I know, I was at both. Of course, this is only my experience and my opinion. Wait, no it’s not just me.

David Berlind busted his ass to put together something not vendor-controlled that unavoidably involved vendors because vendor APIs were what was being mashed up.

I see no reason why vendors have to be involved because their services are being mash-up’ed. Aren’t the people writing the mash-ups actually more important here?

He wanted to get the thing together in a cheap place with wi-fi on short notice and did the best he could, which wasn’t bad, considering. Yes, he got sponsors. Yes, he asked people to contribute to cover costs. But did he let sponsors run the show? No. They got to put on parties and give away t-shirts and stuff. BFD.

Ok, granted. He “did the best he could.” And I’m shouldn’t complain about drinking Yahootini’s (they’re just too damn good and I have a policy against refusing free alcohol) nor should I complain about getting more XXL white t-shirts with awesome company slogans on them.

Did he — and the rest of us — learn something from the experience? Sure.

Speak for yourself.

Should he (and others involved, like myself) have learned more, going in, from folks like Ryan? Sure.

But why flame the negatives and dismiss the positives?

Because I was personally offended. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, maybe I should have just sucked it up, like I’d done when other people jumped on the ‘Camp-wagon. But when someone takes something I worked on and makes a cheap (in the figurative sense) imitation of it, I get personally offended. I’m too proud of things I work on. I consider that a feature.

Ask the developers who came and got to mash stuff up and move stuff forward if Mashup Camp was a Bad Thing, or if it failed because it didn’t follow the Bar Camp formula.

Actually, I didn’t see anyone working on mash-ups at MashupCamp, and I was sitting at the hackers table (aka, the kids table). I think that’s because a lot of the people attending MashupCamp were non-programmers who are not capable of writing mash-ups. I’d be happy to be wrong here, but I don’t think I am.

I spent half of the first day at MashupCamp working on some of my own code (not a mash-up, unless you count mixing your code with more of your own code as a mash-up) and it seems everyone I knew came up to me to ask ‘what are you mashing up?’ I disappointed them all.

Look, if you want to have the conference equivalent of a kegger, fine. But if you have to book a venue, provide food, provide connectivity, power everybody’s laptop, and otherwise provide an environment where everybody gets to participate and achieve some kind of progress at the event, you’ve got some organizing to do and some expenses to cover. Especially since most places with connectivity, power, food, space, parking and other conveniences are also in the conference-venue business and used to getting the big bucks that customarily flow through the typical conference mill. Cheaper alternatives involve trade-offs. It takes work to find them and line them up.

Hmm, I don’t think you really have a point here. At BarCamp, we had:

  • a venue
  • food
  • connectivity
  • power for laptops
  • an environment where people got stuff done

I’m not sure what you think was missing?

People “achiev[ed] some kind of progress” at Barcamp. Besides the very important ‘meet and exchange ideas’ sort of progress, people were writing code and organizing new projects. I actually didn’t see much of the latter two at MashupCamp.

Plus, when was the last time you organized a kegger? Seriously, it’s not like they don’t take planning.

BarCamp has a forumula, and that’s cool; but will that formula work for every topic, every community, every location?

No, it won’t. But MashupCamp’s formula didn’t work either. It could have been a great opportunity for all sorts of hackers to come and make cool stuff. But it wasn’t. The universal reaction from my friends who spend their days writing code was “too many suits.”

MashupCamp was unenjoyable for me for the same reason that the Web 2.0 conference was unenjoyable- they weren’t about technology [2].

They could have been about technology– how its changing, how it works and how it doesn’t work. Instead, they’ve been about business, they’ve been relatively vacuous (from a technologist’s standpoint) and they’ve been thoroughly uninspiring.

Before I go, I want to point at Tara’s post on this issue. She covers different ground and does it well.

Doc, I know I’m much younger than you [3]– young enough that I’ve only watched Happy Days on Nick at Night. I still have this suspicion that the world might be a good place, but maybe I should adopt some of Tara’s cynicism:

All Ryan was saying was that Mashup Camp wasn’t true to the spirit of Barcamp and, because it was watered down, they got all of this attention. And that is how the crappy world works.

I dunno, you tell me.

Footnotes

  • I’d just like to point out that there was no actual camping at MashupCamp.
  • Don’t get me wrong, I’m interested in many subjects other than technology, its just that I have this strange preference for technology conferences that actually talk about technology.
  • Like 3 decades younger.

MashupCamp jumped the shark

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

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 news.com.com.com.com 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.

Mucho Camp

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

In case you aren’t cool enough to have made it into the un-unconference for the un-geek, aka MashupCamp, come hang out with us at MuchoCamp. It’s gonna be more fun!