August 20, 2005

Foo Bar Stuff

There is foo camp and there is bar camp. Feels like the adults are at foo camp, making deals, and the kids are at bar camp, making cool technology. Foo camp is by invite, for those who don't know, put on by O'Reilly as a business event for what appears to be deal making. Bar camp spontaneously ignited about a week ago making a place of anyone to show up and talk geek.

Bar camp has been really fun, energetic and free (donations by Dave Sifry and Stewart Butterfield for food and drinks, among other folks giving to the event, though Dave and Stewart are at foo camp). It's full of great ideas, great technology, enthusiasm, collaboration, the door is open and anyone can come in. It's spontaneous and youthful, exuberant, cutting edge, inclusive and very friendly.

A big thanks to Ross for playing janitor in the Socialtext offices. And to all the sponsors for their last minute donations. Nice!

I don't really care about this whole issue of who gets to go to foo camp, except to the extent that some bar campers have been upset by it. A few guys lashed out over the last few days on blogs and in conversations (those who feel strongly are all boys, whereas bar camp girls have barely noticed foo camp... it doesn't appear to exist for them... however, there are awesome girl geeks here, about 10 of whom are in the other room hacking together a new mobile app that totally rocks! And a bunch more in the back deconstructing drupal.) I don't think it's productive for the guys to complain, nor is it the point.

The issue was that Tim O'Reilly exposed his algorithm for selecting foo campers. The last part, called the bozo filter excludes people without telling them because they are annoying or possibly because another person complained about them in the past. It seems to have hit a nerve with a group of younger hackers, because they feel a sense of unfairness about it, as though it might get directed at them at some point. The other issue was the perceived threat to exclude anyone from future foo's for talking about the lack of invites. It just made a number of people feel badly.

The whole foo / bar rivalry is unfortunate and should fade away. Hopefully, next year's bar and foo will focus just on the opportunity to get together and have fun, hanging out with smart people and learning stuff, and for bar campers, hacking up some really great stuff.

Posted by Mary Hodder at August 20, 2005 06:58 PM | TrackBack

I don't think this sort of thing ever goes away. Any time there is an event that a lot of people want to go to but limited space to hold them or to make the event work there are going to be some people who get to come and some who do not. Some of the people who do not get invited will always think they should have been and get upset. This setting up of a counter event is far from unheard of. Lots of us know kids who created a party of their own because they were not invited to the "cool kids" party. Is it a big deal? Only for the people who can't let it go and decide to take invitations or the lack of them personally.

Posted by: Alfred C Thompson at August 21, 2005 10:49 AM

lesson: don't be a bozo!

Posted by: joe at August 21, 2005 11:00 AM

Mary- I noticed that some of the the guys who complained the loudest about the exclusivity of FooCamp didn't show up for BarCamp. I think most who actually did show up weren't even thinking about the Foo-ers.

Posted by: ryan king at August 21, 2005 03:31 PM

hi ryan,
actually, the people i'm talking about above, who felt badly.. and expressed it, were there at bar, which i thought i said above.. that they were there friday night, but thankfully, when i returned saturday, they were onto other topics and it didn't come up much saturday. it's unfortunate though that they did feel badly. that's what i wanted to point out. the event would have been really great without that bad feeling. but it was still very fun.

but hopefully the community can get past it.. and we can show up again at bar and just focus on making good stuff.

Posted by: mary hodder at August 21, 2005 09:39 PM

Good post, except the characterization about Foo Camp being a place where deals were done is not true. The age range was pretty wide as well. Plenty of young and old.

I do agree with your assessment about the strangeness of "foo camp complainers" not even bothering to show up to Bar Camp. Strikes me as a bit disingenuous.

Anyway, peace to both camps...

Posted by: Mike D. at August 22, 2005 08:59 PM