The fine art of mashing potatoes at camp

Not surprisingly, my proposed event has some precedents, notably in architecture, called charettes (“a charette is an intense effort to solve any architectural problem within a limited time.”) (via Brad):

There are two main advantages to working in the context of a charette. The first is that a charette operates in a highly collaborative atmosphere. Instead of an architect taking ideas and plans and going away to develop them on his or her own, a charette allows for the participation of everyone involved with the project, resulting in a highly charged and creative atmosphere. The inclusion of many points of view results in well-rounded and realistic proposals, with everyone satisfied that they were able to contribute. Secondly, Charettes are fast, and relatively inexpensive. In the intital stages of a project, the venture is necessarily highly speculative. It is important to keep costs at bay, while also moving forward quickly to take advantage of changing situations and often prohibitory deadlines. Charettes offer the opportunity to work safely and effectively within both of these boundaries.

Not only that, other people have thought hard about this kind of event before (also via Brad):

So it’s clear that we’re tapping into a model that’s already well established. It’s just futzing with the details that makes what we’re doing remotely unique. It brings me back to my ultra geeky days in high school when I was helping to build robots for FIRST: we’d get a bucket of parts, an interdisciplinary team with mentors from local companies and for a couple months we’d get our team prepped for the real competition by building robots collaboratively.

And what was significant about the design of the program were the contraints imposed upon us; we had a box of random metal gadgets and that was it. And yet every year, bigger, badder and more creative solutions would emerge in spite of those limitations. Nay, I daresay, because of them.

And so that’s why I want to limit the coworking event. Yeah, I could get a bigger space, but it wouldn’t be the same. And in the original ethos of creating these events to be repeatable, low-cost and sustainable, I want other people the world over to run their own mashup days…. With their own backchannels. With different communities and projects being represented and brought into the mix. C’mon, the Bay Area chapter of the Brat Pack 2.0 is cool and all, but these events are relevant the world over and we all need more reasons to travel for work. 😉

Whether you’ve got three people or three hundred, you can make an event like this happen. Seriously. And there plenty of people and a litany of historical resources out there ready to help get you started.

Remember the one thing that’s essential to the ongoing life and success of these things (just a little Canterian didacticism): anarchy still reins supreme in the valley of camps.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

2 thoughts on “The fine art of mashing potatoes at camp”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: