On to Sebastopol for FOOCamp

FOO– Friends Of O’Reilly (the publisher of lots of books about technical topics, especially open source).
Camp– sleep on the floor or pitch a tent on the back lawn of the O’Reilly Campus

Portable toilets and showers provided, and some food, plus electricity and WiFi connectivity. Birds-of-a-feather sessions only: sign up on the wall chart for a room and hope people will come.

So some of the same topics as the last two days, and also “invitation only” but otherwise a very different culture.

Esther Dyson’s Release 1.0’s next issue is going to be on reputation systems, and she led our lunch table to an interesting conversation about what role reputation systems might have in politics. Conclusion: most useful for more obscure political things where mainstream media aren’t covering.

There was an interesting session on politics, where we speculated about options the DeanForAmerica campaign to scale up its participatory web features if there is a huge influx of participants as the primaries approach. The options: SlashDot style rating; invite people to join small groups rather than posting comments to main blog, with small groups providing distilled commentary for larger viewing; invite people to form a network of friends whose comments they pay attention to, a la LiveJournal. David Weinberger was at the session and is acting as “Internet advisor” to the campaign. I showed my ignorance afterward by introducing myself to him and asking what he does when not advising Dean. I guess everyone else here knows him: he was one of the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Scott Heiferman, CEO of Meetup was at the lunch table. I got excited about the possibility of doing research on whether meetup.com is attracting new people to getting together, and whether it has an impact on their activities or civic identities. They were inspired by Putnam’s Bowling Alone argument when they launched the service. I asked about research possibilities to see whether they’re actually solving that problem. Turns out Scott had a high energy meeting with Putnam last week, and moreover he wanted to talk to me about incoroporating reputation system ideas into meetup. So perhaps something will come of this connection as well…

I’m sitting in the session on Blogdex and technorati. I guess I should check on how many links and friends my blog has. Not many: Only 8 links in (and only 3 people have me on their LiveJournal friends list).

Overall, a fun and productive side trip. Thanks, Marc Smith, for telling me about the event and convincing me I should come here for the day rather than renting a bike and going into the hills around Sonoma.

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About Paul Resnick

Professor, University of Michigan School of Information Personal home page
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