Some thoughts on foo camp…

Now that life (ahem) Elsewhere is normalizing again, I have time to throw a few more comments on foo camp. Unlike lots of folks, I’m not a fan of snap judgements, I prefer to think it over and give myself some time to figure out what I’m thinking (which, I guess, makes me a lousy candidate for a high profile blogger, which is fine by me…). Saves me from having to write even more apologies and changed my mind notes than I already do…

That was one of the most interesting and fascinating times I’ve had in a long time. Laurie and I have a term we use, talking to adults, to describe those times when we’re with people who are mentally energizing and interesting, and who stretch our knowledge with their own. We’re lucky to know a good number of adults in our lives — but foo camp was different. It was nothing but talking to adults, and I was honored to be included and contribute a little bit in return in the ways I could. I more or less overloaded after a whle, trying to keep track of who and what and why, and it’s taken me a few days to start seeing the interrelationships of all of this stuff.

Going back over the weekend, a couple of things stood out (other than the session on disassembling the Prius ):

Howtoons: a group out of MIT who are trying to put together projects to get kids interested in hardware and tinkering again. Their worry (and the more I think about it, the more I agree with them) is that the generations we’re bringing up now don’t build things and don’t create things; they use things. So HowToons is an attempt to help kids discover the joy of building and experimenting, and is set up to be easily distributable offline as well as on, using materials generally available, even in non-developed parts of the world. These folks deserve some support and visibility, and if you have ideas for projects they can use in HowToons, you really ought to pass them along. It’s great stuff.

Socialtext: We’ve all been talking about wikis and weblogs and klogs and IM and other technologies, but technologies are only as interesting as how they’re used. One of the things I’ve been looking at the last couple months is how to use these tools in an IS environment to improve communication, document operations and projects, create and manage schedules better, and find solutions for the Fred was the only one who knew how that worked problem. So is socialtext, a group working to integrate these things and de-geek them so that they can be used in the kind of environments I run around in. Looks very interesting. Soon as I get a spare minute…

SecureSoftware: these folks are building tools to help discover and prevent problem code. It has the potential to take us beyond hey, watch out for buffer overflows lectures in building code that can withstand today’s hostile cracking environments…

It was neat to finally meet Stewart Brand, and it’s safe to say without his work, many of the folks who were at Foo Camp wouldn’t have been. One of the people I never had a chance to sit down and talk to was Doc Searles, because it seemed every time I saw him, he was surrounded by a group of people and he was explaining how to overthrow the US political system (note: not the American Government! that’s useful, in the right hands… grin). But it was amazing to see that many people, and so few egos. Or maybe compatible egos.

Which made some of the discussion about foo camp Out Here somewhat disturbing. it’s been pretty much hashed out so I won’t re-open it, but I do want to pass along something Laurie said to me after the Cubs collapsed and lost game 6:

expected, but still disappointing

Exactly.

Thanks to Tim and the entire O’Reilly crew for a great weekend.

This entry was posted in About Chuq.