Then there was BarCamp San Francisco

BarCamp at Microsoft by Scott Beale

I really shouldn’t post anymore before at least mentioning that BarCamp San Francisco has come and gone, offering something between a roar and a whimper. The truth is, it was such a big, multi-tiered kind of experience that I think it’ll take me awhile to unravel it.

Fortunately there’s lots of photos and even some interesting video available in the meanwhile.

Thanks again to the folks who really made it possible: especially the lead organizer and my favorite co-camper, Tara, and Tantek, Nima and the host of awesome volunteers who pitched in throughout the event. And don’t forget our extremely supportive sponsors who fed us and gave us nice things to drink all weekend. The event simply wouldn’t have been possible — or nearly as satisfyingly exhausting — if it weren’t for all the additive efforts of these folks.

For the rest of the month

iCal icon…there will be nothing but events. I kid you not.

  • June 20, 2006 – 10:0018:00 MashPit San Francisco III – at Wharton West, 101 Howard Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA
  • June 20, 2006 – 20:00Microformats 1-year Anniversary Party – at 111 Minna Street, San Francisco, CA
  • June 2123, 2006 Supernova 2006 – at The Palace Hotel, 2 New Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA
  • June 2324, 2006 BloggerCon IV – at CNET, 235 2nd Street, San Francisco, CA
  • June 23, 2006 – 19:0024:00 BarCampSanFrancisco Kick-off Party – at Microsoft Offices, One Market Street 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA
  • June 2325, 2006 BarCampSanFrancisco – at Microsoft Offices, One Market Street 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA
  • June 29July 01, 2006 Gnomedex 6.0 – at Bell Harbor International Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA

(And yes, you can add these events to your calendar easily.)

Oh, and cool sidenote, Senator John Edwards will be keynoting Gnomedex. Guess if you can’t get the inventor of the internets, you can at least get a running mate.

Why BarCamp is a Community Mark

BarCamp logo community mark

I’ve been watching the debate about O’Reilly’s enforcement of its “Web 2.0” service mark with mild amusement. It’s the old world being pistol-whipped by the new. Again. And ironically (…or not, depending on how much you know), it’s the O’Reilly camp on the receiving end. Again.

Look, I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably have to keep saying it again and again, but once you go open, you can never go back. Nor is there a half-way point down the rabbit hole.

If you benefit from open source, you give back to it. You play by its rules, not ones that you dictate. Period. If you don’t, the system self-corrects and kicks your ass. (Oh, and I hope that Microsoft is listening, because if it’s just playing nice while Mr Ozzie is on top for now, it’s inching ever-closer to the biggest bitch-slap of its storied existence).


Here’s what I have to say, because Cory let me down and Marc is one of the fews folks making much “Policy & Law 2.0” sense about this whole thing.

Trademark, copyright and patents are the DRM of genius. They lock down possibilities and in effect, shut down imagination and inspiration. Unsanctioned and unlicensed, that is. On Marc’s blog, Ian Betteridge writes:

Trademarks laws are designed to protect consumers, not to ensure a revenue stream for companies. They’re designed so that no one can make crappy vacuum cleaners and call them “Hoover” (except, Hoover themselves, of course 🙂 ), thus fooling you out of money and incidentally protecting the company from damage to its reputation.

This is the correct interpretation of trademark law as it was intended in 1876. Yeah, that’s right, 130 years ago.

Now while many laws that’ve been on the books for a while now still apply and make sense, things have changed and as evidenced by our country’s leadership, not all laws make as much sense anymore.

DuelIntellectual property protections at one time served to protect the consumer, the little guy, the entrepreneur. That was back when the feedback loop that corrected fraudulent activities was slow, tedious and often ended with a dual in the middle of main street. With patents being filed en masse by folks like Texas Instruments (who will likely never use or enforce the majority of their portfolio), with copyright being used to stifle creativity and expression and trademarks being applied to community-protected language and ideas, it’s clear that the original uses and purposes of these legal concepts are not only under scrutiny, but may have finally become the last ditch effort large power-mongering corporations with major budgets to go after the smaller, more nimble independents that they were designed to protect.

. . .

Now, when I originally made my case for Community Marks, it was in response to two frustrating experiences that I’d had working on SpreadSpread campaigns for Mozilla and Creative Commons, two bastions of open intellectual product. In both cases, ownership of their trademarks stymied their desire to allow their communities to assume ownership — and enforcement — of their identifying symbols (aka logos and wordmarks), and in effect, squashed nascent community-based efforts to do the work of more costly PR firms.

The Community Mark was a prediction of the kind of ongoing community tarring happening to O’Reilly. This is, after all, what happens when you try to take away the language or symbols by which a community identifies itself and serves as a warning for what could happen to Mozilla if they stepped up and stopped community projects from cropping up. Or what would happen if anyone tries to trademark BarCamp or use it for purposes that the community does not sanction or endorse.

And that’s why, without any other necessary action than merely calling it one, BarCamp has been and will continue to be, a Community Mark. The BarCamp community is a far better mechanism for detecting fraud and shutting it down than any obnoxiously-expensive legal department. And when you’re dealing with an environment as large as the web, what other choice do you have? You can’t possibly register your trademark in every single web-touching, worldwide jurisdiction (as Tom points out). And yeah, go ahead, tell me that I’m naive and that’s not how business works and blah blah blah ok-you’re-boring-me because you’ll end up in exactly the same shoes that O’Reilly/CMP/cha cha cha chimichanga enchilada find themselves in today.

I mean, honestly, wouldn’t you rather have the enormous power of the community on your side than not? Ok then, case closed.

Natural Bridges @ WineCamp

Watch the video

Well, my first vlog entry evar and it’s to do with WineCamp. New beginnings, old tech. Yeah, that’s about right.This is at the Natural Bridges, down the street from WineCamp — where a bunch of us tossed off our early garb, jumping in the freezing wat

This video was originally shared on by factoryjoe with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

What I’m looking forward to at WineCamp

WineCamp: Act Different

In case you haven’t signed up yet for this weekend’s WineCamp, now’s the time to do it.

I’ve been thinking about it lately, and what I’m hoping to get out of it. Unlike other BarCamps, we’re really trying to break things up and introduce some new folks and ideas to the ad-hoc model (and by ad-hoc, I mean we’re buying up supplies, food and even the tent Tara and I’ll use throughout today and tomorrow!). It’s non-profits, it’s technologists, but really, disciplines aren’t the most important thing — it’s the conversations that will result — and the sunlighting of opportunities where all this new social media stuff has failed to light a fire.

What I’m most looking forward to, besides a great time, a great venue and some great wine, is talking to Donald Lobo and David Geilhufe of CivicCRM/CivicSpace (as well as Zack, Neil and Kieran) on how to make their platform more palatable and useable by normal folks. I would have loved to use CiviCRM to organize WineCamp, but it’s just too much software and I don’t have the time or expertise to make it sing for me. Now that I’m on the other side and actually organizing, I have a much clearer picture of what this stuff needs to do and how simple it needs to be.

I’m looking forward to catching up with my good friend Mini, who works with the Level Playing Field Institute and has created an awesome project called Smash Cast.

I’m also looking forward to discussing modern education reform with folks like Charles Morgan from Presidio Hill, about all kinds of good stuff with Murray Freeman who I met some time ago at SHDH… about what we can do to make non-profits more tech savvy and at the same time, technology builders more sensitive to matters beyond dollars and cents. Stuff that the Compumentor folks know a great deal about (and who have been instrumental in making this happen).

Above all, can we identify the projects and challenges that don’t have business models but that need to be built regardless?

There’s so much more to look forward to — and I can’t believe that it all starts tomorrow night with a big ol’ fashioned weenie roast on the vineyard, but heck, that’s the way this thing should get started. Pescitarian or whatever I am, even I recognize the need to go back to basics and start simply every now and again.

WineCamp is that: it’s the best of the old world, coming into the new. And that tension and grounding in culture, is what I hope will provide the right kind of environment for new ideas, for new thinking and for new hope to ferment. 😉

Introducing: tequps

tequp logoI was up late last night chatting with Cris Pearson of Plasq (yes, the creators of Comic Life!) about his creation — the Aussie-born tequp!

He writes on the wiki:

A tequp is a local meeting with a global front. Get to know locals doing cool stuff, share startup/business experiences and talk about new technologies. Create, share and learn in an open environment.

Initially focussing on innovative software and internet development/design – but really, anything teq 🙂

Started in Melbourne, Australia, similarities to BarCamp where quickly noticed and have now teamed up to cross-polinate. Like the BarCamp model, tequp is open and meets are created by any interested people in their local area.

So we’re thinking of having one in late May at the NetSquared Conference — to present the work we’ve done at WineCamp the weekend leading up to the gala event. Oh, and if you’re a developer and interested in going to this sold out event, drop an email to Billy Bicket (billy -at- compumentor dot org) expressing your desire to attend.

Personal blog assistant

Now that I’m back and jet lagged from Bangalore (where Barcamp kicked mighty ass and with three more in the country to come) I’m realizing that I have a tonne of stuff to blog about, not the least of which concerns things that I’ve personally instigated and have an obligation to report on.

The problem, however, is how to be involved with everything, actually execute and still have time to blog about it. Admittedly I end up being a tad verbose at times, so cutting my Average Word Count Per Entry down would help — as might treating my blog more like a public email repository… returning back that “Four Readers” focus that encouraged informality and brevity over details and loquaciousness.

Anyway, the matter remains that I’m countless blog posts behind and barely able to keep up with the off-topic rants I’d like to get to, not to mention follow all the threads going on meanwhile.

So wouldn’t it be great if we put all those soon-to-be-displaced journalists to work as personal blog assistants? I mean, a PBA could have multiple simultaneous clients — indeed, they could cover a local sector of a given topic (like beat journalists — beat bloggers?). Or, perhaps they could be “topic writers for hire”… For example, how cool would it be to have someone that the community endorses to attend events and report back for them? I’d love to have a Barcamp or Mash Pit PBA go out and attend each event, providing specialized reports that matter to, oh, say, 2,500 people worldwide.

I mean, when Tara reports that “The World is Mega Uber Bloody Flat” she reveals a whole new realm of reportage that the MSM will simply never see as economically viable (or perhaps even interesting) (even though, historically, that’s where local papers made their bread and butter).

And yet the experiences and people involved in these worldwide camps are extremely interesting to me — as I’m sure they are to many others in our community. But, as it is with blogs, they are fairly poor at really capturing what went on, at least in comparison to the way a dedicated journalist who sees the continuous threads of the story might… and indeed, those threads of continuity are what make the Barcamp story so compelling.

So what I’m proposing is this: blogs are a great mechanism for communities to talk amongst themselves or for independent voices to gain an audience, but they are not entirely a substitute for a unified perspective that can connect the pieces and reassemble a complete story. The role journalists traditionally played was to tell stories that interwove diverse and contradicting views in the interest of keeping the public informed. Of course, this was before the advent of subliminal product placement and expressing everything in terms of stock prices and market valuations.

But as usual, I digress.

…which a PBA would not — or at least not without good reason and good measure. Anyway, I’m not going to stop blogging for myself… it just would be highly interesting to have someone follow the topics that are interesting to me and report back about them. The way that only a human can. The way that journalists are supposed to.

Announcing: Barcamp San Francisco

Barcamp San Francisco

Couldn’t wait any longer to get this one outta the bag… but based on some prodding from Kevin Burton at ETech and Paul D Smith on the Barcamp wiki, I’d like to announce that Barcamp is coming to San Francisco June 24-25, to coincide with Kevin Werbach’s Supernova.

Now, there a coupla cool bonuses I want to mention. First, the Tuesday before Supernova we’ll be having another Mash Pit in San Francisco. Venue TBD, but I’ll be looking into France Telecom’s space again or possibly prodding Adaptive Path.

The night of the Mash Pit we’ll be having some kind of geektacular Microformats 1-year Anniversary party. Dunno about where, but following Mash Pit, that’s what we’ll be doin’. Ask Tantek.

On Wednesday, Supernova starts and goes through Friday. At the close of Kevin’s event, we’ll have the traditional Barcamp Social Kick-off party somewhere in the city… figure around 8pm — with everyone from ‘nova invited.

Saturday we kick it off around 10am, doin’ the whole Barcamp thing, finishing out sometime around 4pm on Sunday. Phew!

Now I should make it clear that the primary instigators of this weeklong fete include both me and Tantek… with the full support of the Supernova crew. We’re looking to make these events as complementary and mutually supportive as possible and to that end, will be working together tightly to make sure that as many folks as possible get a chance to participate one way or another. Mash Pit and Barcamp will remain free as always (donations welcome!) and if you’re in town for Supernova anyway, well, you now have any excuse to come a little early and stay a bit longer.

Definitely; this is gunna be fun.

Love 2.0, Microformats and OSWL podcasts

Tara and I get interviewed by Chris and PonziChris Pirillo has posted the Love Two Point Oh interview that he and Ponzi conducted at SXSW of Tara and me.

Meanwhile, Brian Oberkirch posted two interviews of me for his Weblogs WorkNotes where I discuss independents, Barcamp, Mash Pit, and WineCamp and then separately about microformats.