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Foo camp 2008 coverage

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Nice article and photos here (Techcrunch) and here. My sessions were “The information security industry is broken” with John Viega and Dan Kaminski, and “The technology of hand to hand fighting: MMA” 🙂

Techcrunch: Shangri La for geeks

275 or so people congregated on the small town of Sebastopol, located 60 miles north of San Francisco in the heart of wine country, for the 2008 Foo Camp this last weekend. Attendees included technologists, professors, researchers engineers, major company executives, billionaire entrepreneurs, students, press and the odd astronaut.

They all had one thing in common – a love of technology. Foo Camp, which stand for Friends of O’Reilly, is an annual three day tech event put on by O’Reilly Media at their Sebasopol headquarters. They supply a huge lawn area where attendees put up tents, food and drinks, bathrooms, Wifi and one very large blank piece of paper marked off in a grid.

There is no structure to the event – if an attendee wants to hold a session on anything at all, they simply write the name of the session somewhere on the grid, which tells people what day/time and place the session will be held. People attend any sessions they like, and with 15 or so happening at any given time, there may be 2 people, or 75 people, in any particular session.

Sessions this year included, to name just a few: “how to fly the space shuttle” by a former astronaut, “the future of news,” “user generated meta data,” “the metrics of virtual worlds,” “decentralizing social networks” and “online hate/trolling.”

In one session on Sunday that I co-led with Tim O’Reilly and Danny Sullivan, we debated the need for competitive search. This was an offshoot of a previousdebate we held on our blogs, but this time with audience participation in real time (including people from the companies being discussed).

The sessions are in an unconference format, meaning the leaders are there to guide the discussion only. Audience participation isn’t just encouraged, it’s a well exercised right (in the picture to the right, you can see Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales behind the table with his hand raised to make a comment in the “user generated meta data” session led by Esther Dyson). With so many different types of interesting people in any given session at any time, the conversations tend to be fascinating, and occasionally explosive. …

Written by infoproc

July 14, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Posted in foo camp, geeks, technology


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I haven’t read this yet, but am looking forward to it. (OK, maybe I just like the title and cover 🙂

Here is the author’s web page; he’s a psychology professor at Bennington.

Q: Do other countries have this problem?

A: The idea that it is unattractive or unappealing to be intelligent is not a universal concept. Not in Asia, certainly not in India. There’s no concept in India that being good at math and science and technology has negative social consequences. That’s the reason there are so many Indian engineers.

Q: Why did this grow out of American culture?

A: Historically, America is a place for men of action, for men who discover things, make things with their hands, have practical intelligence as opposed to book learning. Book-learning was suspect — the musty old European way, as opposed to practical, snazzy America. I think this tradition has never gone away.

The problem is that now it just doesn’t work anymore. You can’t do anything unless you pay attention in school. You can’t invent things without knowing calculus. If you don’t study math, it won’t work. Benjamin Franklin was an American genius, a model of the American tinkerer, but the Ben Franklin model is not working anymore.

Q. Wasn’t everyone talking about the need for better math and science education back in the days of Sputnik?

A: What’s new is the sexualization of it. Kids live in such a sexualized world. … (If you are called a nerd or a geek, it’s) not just creepy or weird, you’re labeled as someone who is never going to get laid. There’s a lot more at stake because kids are so much more exposed to a culture that’s all about being attractive, having sex early.

The nerds and the geek stereotype is that if you’re doing well in math and science, you are completely unattractive to the opposite sex.

All the nerd and geek self-tests, what they ask you is: Are you good at science and math? Are you unwashed? Have you never had a date? You don’t know anyone’s phone number except your mothers?

Written by infoproc

December 27, 2007 at 4:18 pm

Posted in aspergers, geeks, nerds