OK, as an organizer of the event, I am probably not the most neutral party; however, I do think the we managed to pull of a great BarCamp here in Portland. First of all, a huge thank you to Eva, David, and the rest of the crew at CubeSpace who generously gave us the run of the facility, were an amazing help, let us stay until 11pm both nights, and were extremely flexible when the registrations soared out of control the 3 days leading up to the event from our expected attendance of 125 to a final count of about 250 attendees. Also a huge thank you to Raven Zachary, co-organizer and partner in crime for the event, and the rest of the planning team: Carl Johnson, LaVonne Reimer, Audrey Eschright, Patrick Sullivan, Sioux Fleming, Kelly Mackin, and Rashid Ahmed. Each person on this list was a tremendous help. Todd was also an enormous help: staying up late to help draw the grid; bringing me bubble tea; getting last minute materials cut at Kinkos, putting up with my crap as my grouchiness escalated during final preparations, and much more.
During the initial planning of BarCamp Portland, we thought that would be really cool if we could get maybe 75-100 people at Portland’s first BarCamp. As people began signing up, we thought that 125 was a pretty realistic number (this is what we budgeted for). A week or two before the event, we had 125-150 people signed up, and we felt really good about that number. As we moved closer to the Friday start of BarCamp, the numbers escalated rapidly to 274. Based on signups at the registration desks, we think we had about 250 people physically present at the event. Our sponsors were very generous in making last minute increases in sponsorship funding to provide additional food for the extra people.
A few neat things about BarCamp Portland:
- Our volunteer planning committee had more women than men, which we think helped us to have a better gender balance in overall attendance than most technology events.
- We think we were the first BarCamp ever to have free Bubble tea.
- Sessions varied widely including: theories about the TV show Lost, Open Source Business models, songwriting for geeks, community collaboration, MythTV, OpenID, WiFi disaster recovery and much more.
- We had a Nintendo Wii party, which included a boxing showdown between Chris Messina, one of the founders of the BarCamp Concept, and me (I kicked his ass) 🙂
- We had a Bucket of Voodoo Donuts.
- We had several OLPCs there for people to play with, and they even got some use from kids at the event.
- Ward Cunninham brought his flag waving robot.
- I did a session on collaboration in communities, which seemed to go really well.
- People started to get really creative about using the space at the event.
- We had knitting.
- We played a bunch of werewolf games thanks to Victor and others from the Portland Werewolf group (we even have our own cards for it!) I am an innocent villager.
- Notes from sessions are still emerging as people recover enough to blog, but I’ve found a few notes from Donnie Berkholz, and in the PDXBarCamp channel on Pibb (the official event back channel)
- And much, much, more.
Thanks to everyone who attended. A BarCamp event is only successful if the people who attend make it successful. We had an amazing, geeky, smart, and fun crowd leading to an amazing, geeky, smart, and fun event!
My first week at Jive has been a whirlwind of activity, and I think that I have been super productive for the first 5 days on the job. I’ve completed a first draft of how we might build Jive’s new developer community on our newly released Clearspace X infrastructure. I am re-working the process for how we give away free licenses of Jive’s Clearspace and Forum products to open source projects. I’ve put together a new demo script for our CEO to use at BarCamp – customized for what I think will be the audience at BarCamp. I was also able to get confirmed speaking engagements at Defrag and OSCON this week. All this while being constantly distracted with last minute BarCamp details as the co-organizer of the BarCamp Portland event this weekend (note to self: next year, do NOT start a new job the week that you are holding BarCamp!)
How was I able to get all of this done while getting up to speed in a new company? It comes down to dogfood, specifically, to eating our own dogfood at Jive. We use the current Clearspace beta product for all of our documents, to hold discussions, for blogging, and more. Most of the information that I needed was already in Clearspace. For new information, I just started discussions in Clearspace where I asked other Jive employees about things like what to name the new developer community, how to promote our new developer community, and more. I posted all of my work as wiki documents in Clearspace, and because everyone uses it, I was able to get feedback and information from across the company.
We are also avid users of our Openfire / Spark IM solution with every Jive employee already populated in our buddy lists from day 1 on the job. I worked with an employee in Canada over IM to help him reproduce an issue that I was seeing in our beta product, discussed our Ignite community with our CTO, negotiated with our web developer on resources to get some web forms completed, and much more.
I have to say that Jive seems to be a great fit for me. I’m working with people who are just insanely smart, who live web 2.0 technologies, and we’re working on some really cool collaboration software. Did I mention that we are hiring?
Part of my new gig at Jive is to be an evangelist for our products. This means that I need to ramp up my speaking schedule at conferences. Historically, my typical method of getting speaking engagements is to reactively respond to requests from friends, industry acquaintances, and other random people who invite me to speak on panels. Now, I want to start taking a more proactive approach by submitting sessions to conferences focused on developers, web 2.0, collaboration, community, and open source.
Any suggestions for cool conferences that are currently accepting submissions?
I’ve been using Twitter both on my computer on my and phone for a while, but the user experience of the phone has been a bit rough. One option is to turn on text messages and be interrupted by your phone every time a friend Twitters. Another option was the use the standard web interface, which required lots of scrolling and painfully slow load times.
Now Twitter has just released m.twitter.com. It’s very simple, clean, and easy to read on the phone. I think I’ll like using Twitter on my phone even more with this release.
Twitter is one of those services that people either love, hate, or can’t see the point. I’m in the “love it” camp. It’s a great way to keep up with friends. I like knowing what new app or gadget Josh Bancroft or Chris Messina are testing. I also get great lunch suggestions from people like Raven Zachary. The best use of Twitter is at big events where you can learn which session, party, speaker, etc. really stinks and which ones are a must see. At sxsw, Chris Messina organized an OpenID meetup primarily over Twitter. News also spreads quickly via Twitter, and I frequently see breaking news on Twitter before other mainstream media sources. The best part is that you get this information quickly and easily from your community of friends, acquaintances, and coworkers.
Thanks to Kaliya for finding this.
I attended the Open Knowledge vs. Controlled Knowledge panel this morning, and Gil Penchina, CEO of Wikia, made a really good point. Robert Capps from Wired had just been talking about how vandalism has been a big issue for Wired whenever they open something up for community contribution. Gil’s point is that if things have been tightly controlled and are suddenly opened up as a free-for-all, you can end up with what he called “principal for a day” mentality where the community wants to change everything and really mess with the people who have been in control for so long. At Wikia, since it has been completely open from the beginning, they have seen less vandalism. The Wikia community feels ownership for the content: they watch the content, monitor changes, and make immediate corrections when things go wrong because they have a vested interest and feel ownership for the content.
Gil also pointed out that not everything should be transparent. At Wikia, the content is open, but the bathrooms still have doors and walls – there are some things that people want to see and other things they do not need or want to see.
From my perspective, this balance is important. Too far in either direction (open or closed) can create problems within the community, and a drastic shift in the balance between open / closed can also result in issues. Achieving and maintaining this balance within a community can be a difficult and tricky process, but it seems to be better to err on the side of open rather than closed.
I just listened to an interesting panel at sxsw on World Domination via Collaboration. One of the many great conversations during this discussion related to anonymity in communities. One panelist allows anonymous comments on her blog because she wants to know what people really think, even if she don’t like it or agree with it. Another panelist mentioned Slashdot’s use of anonymous coward, which highlights the fact that people value comments more from people who share a name and identity. I also allow anonymous comments on my blog (with captcha and other spam filters). Some trolls hide behind anonymity to say nasty things, but I have been lucky so far to only have a few of those comments. I find that the vast majority of people commenting will chose to share a name or other identity, but I am not comfortable forcing it on people. I prefer to have people share an identity because they want to, not because it is required in order to leave a comment. Like many people, I value the comments from people who associate their comments with an identity over those who choose to remain anonymous.
The panel members talked about how people in a community can be anonymous from the standpoint of not sharing a real name / real identity, but having a log in and identity on the site. This is a better solution from a community perspective where people tend to interact together over a longer period of time. Community members get to know each other based on the site identity. I have noticed this recently with my interactions on Jyte. Some people share a real name, others share some other identity, but you get to know these people based on this identity whether it is an “anonymous” identity or a “real world” identity. Jyte uses OpenID, which is a great way to facilitate identity management within a community, since it gives people control over their identities and allows them to use their identity (or multiple identities) across sites.
I am looking forward to more really great sessions at sxsw this weekend!
Web 2.0 has always been one of those nebulous concepts that has been difficult to concisely define. Each person seems to have a slightly different idea about what is and is not web 2.0. Tim O’Reilly’s original essay, What is Web 2.0, was quite lengthy, and he is now trying to define web 2.0 using a short, easy to remember definition:
Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I’ve elsewhere called “harnessing collective intelligence.”) (Quote from Tim O’Reilly on O’Reilly Radar).
I am not sure that this is a business revolution as much as it is a consumer revolution that businesses can take advantage of by building “ applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.” I think the key to web 2.0 is how the expectations of the users are changing. Only a few years ago, most consumers saw the Internet as a passive medium, like radio and television, to be watched and enjoyed without any direct involvement. Many consumers now expect to be able to participate in the online environment by commenting, uploading, or participating in the content in a number of ways. I think that the key to web 2.0 is consumer driven participation and interactivity. Businesses need to understand this fundamental change and focus on building online participation into their business models.
I do think that O’Reilly has a great start toward a more concise definition of web 2.0.
I was lucky enough to get an early preview of Clearspace from the Jive Software team, a local Portland, Oregon company. They have just starting talking about Clearspace on the Jive Talks blog with a recent post from Sam Lawrence. They have not yet released details, and portions of the product were in varying stages of completion when I played with it, so I will not go into any specific details here.
What I will say is that this product is cool. It is intuitive to use and has a “web 2.0” feel to it with modern collaboration functionality built into the system from the beginning. None of the retrofit feel that older applications have when someone tries to cram a bunch of new technology into an ancient product. This will be a product to test drive when Jive launches it in early 2007:
“The idea for Clearspace actually came from our customers, who through their conversations with our sales, marketing, professional services and customer support teams had been asking for many different collaborative feature additions to Jive Forums and Knowledge Base. Some of these were very specific, others borrowed from a lot of the collaborative elements of completely different point solutions. At the beginning of last year we took a big step back and realized that the sum of what was being requested was a completely new, much more comprehensive product.
So, a year ago we faced very tough decisions. Up to that point we had planned to address our customer requests through a combination of improvements to our existing products and/or building a couple of totally new products. Our big decision was was whether to build three products or one. The more we talked about it the more we recognized the massive benefit that could be realized by a single, unified, flexible architecture– sort of like that quote from Lord of the Rings–”one ring to unite them all.” (ok, it was really “rule them all” but that’s too harsh.)” (Quote from Sam Lawrence on Jive Talks)
Way cool! Here is the Firefox crop circle created in rural Oregon after OSCON. Unfortunately, I wasn’t involved in the crop circle, but I’m still waiting for our Cylon Raider from Foo to hit the maps.