Why I’m involved in iPhoneDevCamp

iPhoneDevCampWhile I’m planning to write a lengthier piece about why I think the iPhone and its constraints are important to the future of the open web, I did want to take a moment and talk about my involvement in co-organizing this weekend’s iPhoneDevCamp with Raven Zachary, whurley, Blake Burris, Dominic Sagolla and Christopher Allen and touch on its relationship with BarCamp and other similar camp-style events.

In particular, I received questions about my involvement in the event and calling it a “camp” from Jay Fichialos and Evan Prodromou, two BarCamp community members. I think that their concerns are valid and are worth answering, especially in public, as it gets at the line between commercial interests and community interests — and to what degree its okay to mix “business and grassroots” especially when, to date, BarCamp and the majority of *camp-styled events have avoided most the trappings of commercial endorsement.

Here’s essentially what I told them:

  1. For me, iPhoneDevCamp isn’t really about the iPhone. Personally, I could care less about the iPhone. What I am interested in, however, is the opportunity that the iPhone affords to promote the development and building of open web technologies in the conspicuous absence of proprietary technologies like Flash, SilverLight et al.
  2. I see my involvement as primarily to “keep it real”, to provide contacts and facilitation and to weigh in on issues of commercialization of the event. I think I represent a conservative perspective in this regard whereas my fellow co-organizers are more open to various forms of sponsor involvement. My goal is to keep the vibe community-centric and make sure that the event remain true to the spirit of prior camps, putting the participants first above sponsors.
  3. I like the idea of a productive and educational DevCamp model and would like to see this meme spread further. While this event is product-driven in name, I feel that subsequent events can morph into more product-agnostic events, extracting the base components of a “DevCamp” (part DevHouse, part BarCamp, part Mash Pit, part Mac Hack) into something more general. As with other events that I’ve been involved with, the event itself is non-proprietary and is open for reinterpretation and remixing. I would love for this event to enculturate new thinking, new ideas and new appreciation for using open web standards, open web technologies like microformats and OpenID and other non-proprietary web design methodologies. I’m sure other similar learning possibilities will emerge, but what’s important to me here is that the model of the DevCamp persist as yet another way for independents to gather themselves and self-educate.

Now, to be clear, I certainly do not care to hype the iPhone any more than it already is. I don’t own and iPhone and I haven’t decided whether I will buy one or not. Still, I feel like its release provides a grand opportunity to shift the thinking on developing for the iPhone towards open web technologies. Given the work I’ve been involved with from Spread Firefox to microformats to OpenID, this seems to be an opportunity not worth missing, regardless of the commercial implications. The web will survive the iPhone and will be made better by it. To what extent that is true, however, is entirely in our hands.

Author: Chris Messina

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

13 thoughts on “Why I’m involved in iPhoneDevCamp”

  1. I felt possibility for ‘tension’ but also agree with your points…. it’s good to have got this out – especially pre-event so as not to engulf the event whilst it’s there.

    I personally hope to see plenty of non-iPhone (but still related) dev stuff going one. Both myself and Tantek have stated we’re going to bring along non-iPhone smartphones… What we really need to do is to build mobile sites that degrade gracefully and cater for all – not everyone is going to have an iPhone and all this talk of building ‘iPhone-only’ sites kinda scares disappoints me. If someone said they were going to build a “firefox-only” site they’d be laughed at – so what gives here?

    Anyway, I think it’s going to be a great event and I’m looking forward to it.

  2. Hey Chris,
    I’d love to be there but it’s too far from Munich. Two or three of the Laszlo folks will be around: Bret, our interface genius, Ben and Max, I guess. Have a great weekend.

  3. As mentioned by yourself it would be best if people looked beyond the hype and into the potential of not just the iPhone as one product but what iPhone as a new tool for development. If people just develop products for iPhone users they are missing the millions of users throughout the world who potential will not be able to afford (or even use) this high tech gadget.

  4. I also attended iPhoneDevCamp and had a great time. Everyone was very productive and very much involved with developing something. We will see some great apps come out of this..


  5. Pingback: iPhoneDevCamp wrap

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