This has been sitting in my edit queue for too long… here goes.
So, I was invited to Foocamp this year. Back in February, I attended KiwiFoo at the invitation of Nat Torkington. I realize now (sorry, Nat!) that I never blogged about going there. I have some rough notes around that I may try to edit down.
I’ll avoid any direct comparisons for a moment, and just talk about what it was like to dive into a slice of Silicon Valley, dislocated into the countryside for a weekend.
When I arrived, I felt immediately at home, welcomed and appreciated. Sara Winge was so helpful and easy-going about the Tesla Coil Josh brought. (Thanks for the ride, Josh!) I spent a lot of evening time educating people about avoiding touching the sparks (it may be a pretty toy, but it is in fact a dangerous one!) and also playing around with a metal glove that was rigged up so you could get a bit closer in to the coil.
I spent a couple delightful hours considering claude glass with Roberta Cairney. Over and over, I absorbed the positive energy tumbling out of Sumana. Once again, I spoke with Kiwis whose humor and affectionate swearing reminded me of home.
I held one session – about forgetting and the ethics of shifting our culture to assume everything may be on your permanent record, and the ways in which people try to opt out or game the system. I was surprised and overwhelmed by the people who attended. Rita King, Scott Berkun, Biella Coleman and danah boyd were all part of the discussion and I was able to talk about ideas I’ve had tumbling around in my head for years. I believe sysadmins/devops must have conversations about the ethics of the default choices made by developers around configuration and long-term management of log data. People asked provocative questions, and we had a real debate about the ethics. It was a wonderful experience and I came up with at least one good idea that I hope Jesse Robbins and I are going to act on together.
I also ran into several people who are just starting to work on user group and community issues in their geographic areas. Seattle came up over and over – and I’m looking forward to helping Ben Huh and the open gov folks who want to do grassroots organizing in their tech communities. I also met some amazing women there, and hope that we’re able to continue our discussions about business and tech in the future.
I camped, and was in a tent under the stars, and early morning fog. I enjoyed running into a fellow PostgreSQL community member, Paul Ramsey, among the early risers.
Apart from the immediate things to collaborate on, and an incredibly long list of new ideas and connection points, I came away inspired and mentally refreshed. I relished the relative lack of device obsession. The people that I wanted to have conversations with tended to have put their devices away for a few hours, and were focusing on the people in front of them.
The Ignite talks were my favorite talks. Jake Applebaum‘s meditation on wikileaks was particularly inspiring, reminding me to seek out opportunities to change the world for the better.