Archive for August, 2007

BarCamp again: Roland’s session

Friday, August 31st, 2007

I forgot to mention Roland Tanglao’s BarCamp session. The night before, at the party, I walked into a conversation Roland was having with someone, telling them even he couldn’t pronounce his last name. I suggested he could be like Madonna, and just go by his first name.

Anyhoo. Air and I attended Social Media for Parents. It was interesting: there was a range of tolerance regarding privacy on the net, from way open (anything goes – personal details, kids names etc.) to as closed as possible while still maintaining a presence in cyberspace. I was somewhere in the middle. I don’t mind giving up the odd bit about myself, but steer clear of talking about my family, except in fairly vague terms. The problem of handling photos, especially when family members are dispersed across the continent, is something. I’ve used good old fashioned email thus far, and that works ok but isn’t that efficient. It does become a bit of an issue, though, if you’re like Roland, the family digital archivist, with 8000 digital photos to organize and dispense…

I don’t even have a camera anymore (old one jes died) and need to get a new one (any suggestions?) so right now, it’s not a big deal. Roland (see, like Madonna) wrote a bit more on the subject here.

Down with VanBarCamp 07

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Almost 2 weeks ago (can’t a girl study?), I attended Vancouver BarCamp at Workspace, same as last year. I didn’t present this year, but when I arrived (late and a tad hung over from the Alibi Room party the night previous where KA and I got up to our usual antics. Gawd.) I realized that this was a mistake. There was nothing on wikis: it shoulda been me. Next year. Fine.

Anyhoo. There weren’t a tonne of sessions that grabbed my attention this year, which was a bit of a drag. I did attend Tod Maffin’s session on cool apps for geeks (or something like that) but being late I was seated far away and could barely hear, or see well, for that matter.

One session that did catch my eye, from a research perspective, was Robert Scales’ session on open source as a business model. This was intriguing to me, because sharing and cooperation among firms does not fit under the horizon of capitalism or its fundamental and essential goal, the god profit. Not normally, anyhow.

But Scales (as everyone seems to call him) has a different view of the Van tech scene. According to this view, the various Drupal shops operate in a vague sort of affiliation, working together on what are (from the clients’ perspective) competitive bids and sliding each other business if it’s a better fit for another shop.

Scales says the various companies, including his Raincity Studios, a drupal web development/design firm, and Bryght (whatup kk+?) work together to bolster the local tech scene, focusing on cooperation rather than competition. Or as Scales put it, “competitive collaboration.” (I just learned there’s another word for this, a neologism, in fact: co-opetition.)

This is certainly an unusual business model but it seems to be working. Inspired by the open source software development method, they work collaboratively on client proposals, and follow a similar pricing scheme in order not to undercut one another. They regularly pass clients back and forth, depending on their own particular specialties, the clients’ needs and, of course, how busy they are.

And they are busy. Scales says Raincity will be turning away business for the foreseeable future. But this hasn’t seemed to dampen their enthusiasm for open source or their passion for contributing to the Drupal project. Scales says that educating clients about the benefits of open source (not least of which is financial) is an important aspect of their work. Giving back to the Drupal community remains fundamental.

So what’s the overall vision? Scales talked about the about need for larger projects, for training; for building open employment communities; and for pooling talent. “If we’re bringing all these entities together in a super-collaboration, will it work? Or will there be a clash of ideologies? The tension, as he identified it, is this: “We’re out to make money, and to make the world better.” Scales tossed out the idea of a mega agency collecting all the different aspects of the Van tech scene together, in a loose federation, or under some sort of umbrella organization. (He talks more about his open business approach here). This is a big, bold, innovative idea. I think it would be amazing if it worked….

I also attended Lee Lefever’s session, Fighting Complexity with Video. Businesses hire Lee’s Seattle-based consulting company, Common Craft to make short, explanatory videos for their websites. I first came across Common Craft when searching for a good resource for teaching wikis. Mark Dilley suggested Wikis in Plain English, which does rock. I showed it to my class last semester and they really dug it. CC also has videos on RSS and Social Bookmarking, which I am definitely going to check out. Anyhow, I missed most of Lee’s session, cause it ran concurrently with Scales’. So I only caught the tale end. Another drag.

The last session I attended was one about Drupal and Facebook (there were a number of sessions having to do with Facebook. Have I mentioned I am over Facebook?) Anyhow, it was pretty short, and all I could really get out of it (with my limited technical knowledge/skills) was that a seemingly cool new fb app, using Drupal for the back end, is in the works, and I’ll prolly add it when it’s ready. It’s from Project Opus, an online music community designed to support artists, fans and local music. and it allows you to make a mix tape, and then share your player. Something like that.

That’s enough. BarCamp was fun. It was on my birthday, and nerdy as it truly is, I found it a great way to celebrate gettin’ older. When I got home, there was a surprise dinner, surprise guests and surprise presents. The only thing not a surprise was the cake which, when you have kids, is a requirement.