Today I drove over 300 miles (Los Angeles to Palo Alto) to get to Bar Camp. I believe that was the farthest distance anyone traveled, although I haven’t fact-checked that yet. In fact, I haven’t fact checked anything below, so if there are errors please email me or leave a comment and I’ll fix it.
It was worth the drive.
The event started at 7:00. Everyone had to “sign in” and “take a picture” which consisted of writing your name in a marker pen on a long scrolling paper and drawing your own avatar. People loved it – and there were a lot of people (minus a few stragglers who never made it out of the cafe ). There was a working “wiki” literally written up on a whiteboard (real wiki here) and people were free to add discussion topics to the agenda for either of the two meeting rooms.
Pizza was delivered. There was a referigerator full of beer (less full later in the evening). And there was wide open wifi. Paradise.
My notes for the day are below. This is by no means a transcript of what happened (there was just too much). But it is my views and opinions on the stuff I was able to participate in.
After introductions (led by Andy Smith and Chris Messina from Flock), Ross Mayfield led a discussion about how to (quickly, easily, informally) create a communication and feedback mechanism for attendees (including those not physically present). Lots of good ideas, mostly centered around the wiki since it’s up and running.
By the way, if you haven’t read it yet, check out Chris’ post on how Bar Camp was created.
Ross also spoke about a new product that Social Text has soft-launched, called WikiWyg. It deserves its own profile (and will get one if I can corner Ross long enough to talk about it a bit more), but it is basically a tool to allow people to edit wiki’s without using wiki code. Try out the demo – you can double click on any text on the page and toggle between a wysiwyg editor, a wikitext editor, and preview. If they add authorization functionality, this would be one great way to edit your own blog, as well.
Mike Prince, the founder of Mobido, gave a brief demo of his company. There wasn’t enough time for me to fully understand Mobido, but it is a network for sharing photos and short content (names, contact info, etc.) around an event. One use of this is for everyone at an event to take a picture of themselves and post in on a Mobido event page, along with their name, etc., and people can see everyone who attended and know who they are. There are RSS capabilities as well. This is another company I’d like to profile.
I walked in to this session a bit late. The official title was “blogging for Profit” and was led by Niall Kennedy (Technorati). The discussion evolved into a general discussion of “what is blogging” and “why do people blog” over time.
Jeff Clavier made an interesting comment in response to a question. Jeff, who is a VC, said he blogs because it helps him network with companies and gives him leads. I agree that few VCs are blogging, and most that do blog mostly about being a VC (with notable exceptions of course). You can tell from Jeff’s blog that he is more than open to getting communications from new companies, and it has served him very, very well.
I also think blogging, if you do it intensely, gives you excellent insight into developing trends way before everyone else sees them. You get this partly from reading blogs, and partly from comments and email from people talking about what they are doing. Interaction, lead generation and early intelligence is (mostly) why I love writing for TechCrunch so much. As a related aside, I hear that a company I profiled a month ago may be getting some more mainstream press in the near future.
The session ended with Dorrian Porter (click…subscribed to feed) suggesting that the group consider attempting to categorize blogs by intent or subject matter. A big task in my opinion.
Jacob Appelbaum gave a presentation of his “motorcycle” project – a sniffer of content on wifi networks. He proved the power of his application by reading out random passwords of people in the audience (who where blogging, checking email, etc., while listening). The occasional “Crap! that’s mine” and “please shut this off” was heard. I simply shut down my computer.
He talked about how easy it is to “own someone” by monitoring their traffic. Because people tend to recycle passwords, he said, once you have one password you likely have access to their entire life. Scary stuff.
Jacob also noted that many new web 2.0 companies, like flickr, are not hashing passwords as they are sent over the net, meaning they can easily be sniffed by anyone monitoring the local network.
He’s launching motorcyle as an open source project “for people to use and enjoy.”
By the way, Jiwire has a product called Spotlock that will encrypt your traffic and help you avoid this type of thing. $5 a month, free to try. I’ll be installing it before tomorrow morning.
I met a number of interesting people tonight and subscribed to their blogs. I’m sure there will be lots more over the weekend.
I am also looking forward to Tom Conrad‘s presentation on Pandora tomorrow, and Jeff Clavier‘s presentation on venture capital on Sunday. Hell, I may even get up and say something clever myself at some point.