I had the incredible privilege of spending the past weekend at the second Foo Camp, O’Reilly and Associates’ brilliant, informal weekend gathering of assorted smart and interesting people (plus me, I guess :-). We all met, talked, brainstormed, thought big thoughts, played pingpong and poker, and … well, anything else that geeks think of to do when put together for a weekend. We geeks spend our lives interacting mostly with people who don’t think quite the same way we do, so during a geekfest like Foo Camp there’s an explosion of communication, a real joy in having so many people to talk to who all seem to be speaking the same language for a change.
Last year I had several friends who went to Foo Camp, and I kept hearing the same thing from them: “I’ve never felt like the stupidest person in a group of people before, but that’s what I felt this weekend—and it was great!” That really is what it felt like. I spent the weekend soaking in what I was hearing from the very smart people who were there, and scrambling to keep up. But it was fun and exhilarating.
Here’s a quick blizzard of impressions:
There were sessions about 3D printing, hardware hacking, biology, novel approaches to science education, web design patterns, the technical book industry, VMs for dynamic languages, applying information design principles to API design, realtime 3D sound processing, and more. Trevor Blackwell brought his homemade Segway-equivalent (and the unicycle version). JDD and Mike Clark brought temporary Foo Camp tattoos that seemed to appear on everyone there. Andy Hunt and Tom Anderson had a lengthy jam session Saturday, all piped through Patrick Leahy’s killer spatial sound system. Jeff Bezos, Steward Brand, Kevin Kelley, and Ray Ozzie were there. (Danny Hillis, John Seely Brown, Larry Page, Esther Dyson, and Mitch Kapor were supposed to be there too, but if they were I missed them). Peter Drayton brought an Ambient Orb and a hardware development kit for it, so he could get together with Mike Clark and start hacking on the next generation extreme feedback device. Ten (that’s right, 10!) of the No Fluff, Just Stuff symposium speakers were there. And it was fun to catch up with old friends—Andy Hunt, Daniel Steinberg, Dave Thomas, Erik Hatcher, James Duncan Davidson, Jason Hunter, Mike Clark, Mike Loukides, Rich Kilmer, Scott Davis, and Ted Neward—showing off the project I’m working on, looking at their latest work, etc.
I’ll try to find time over the next couple of days to blog about some of the things I learned, and post some photos.
Thanks to Tim O’Reilly for having us all there, Sara Winge for expertly organizing the weekend, and the folks at O’Reilly who put my name in the hat.