Tag Archives: FOOCamp


Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others…for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.

-Albert Einstein

I have some thoughts I just have to get out so I can get back to being productive, so just bare with me.

In Salt Lake City, I know about 4 public places where people will panhandle, plus randomly in front of convenience stores. I think I avoid these places subconsciously. Sometimes, when I am confronted by someone who wants money for food and my schedule and mood permit, I offer to buy them a meal. The majority decline the offer. Sometimes, I have bought someone a plate of food and in exchange asked them questions about their life. I’ve heard some interesting stories, from people who would probably be described as intelligent by any measure other than the fact that they are destitute.

I went from FOOCamp to a San Francisco hotel in the Tenderloin. The accommodations there were quite nice inside, but once on the street, I was struck by what I will describe as ‘social decay’, or at least that is the best two word phrase I have come up with. I haven’t been in a big city for a while and perhaps Salt Lake City’s harsh winter buffers my experience by making the city less than inviting to those with no means, but I found the openness at FOOCamp, juxtaposed with the reality of a big city, jarring to say the least.

In less than 2 hours, I went from wanting to engage with everyone and regretting there wasn’t more time, to wishing I was invisible and not wanting to make eye contact with anyone. The experience was personally painful. Isn’t walking down a street oblivious to the obvious suffering the definition of sociopathic?

The alternative of engaging led to clumsy communication at best, and while I have a hard time not giving someone who claims to be hungry a dollar, I’m not sure I did any good either.

What does this have to do with anything? Honestly, I’m not sure. I could probably sit and weave it into some metaphors and analogies about software teams and dysfunction, about communication impedance, about the problems caused by decisions made by those who will not be effected by them, about changing yourself and your organization by refusing to propagate an unempowering meme, but I don’t feel like being that clever today.

…When one sits in the Hoop Of The People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related.
And the hurt of one is the hurt of all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do effects everything in the universe…

passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman

The problem doesn’t seem like one I can overcome, certainly not by myself. Humanity has obviously struggled with this since the beginning of time. What does it mean to be a ‘citizen’, to be a ‘society’? I don’t know either, but it seems worth thinking about and acting upon. But what to do? Many social programs seem caught up in their own self righteousness and have little impact but well paid executives. We don’t need another one of those, but what would facilitate true long lasting change? Maybe I’m just being too sensitive, but the alternative feels like self deception and a small death of conscience.

Now back to the regularly scheduled program…


OATV Startup/FOO Camp Redux

Last week, Luke and I rolled up the California coast to Sebastopol, headquarters for O’Reilly publishing/conferences. I wanted to keep all the possibilities open so I tried not to have set expectations.

Luke, me and an apple tree

Luke, me and an apple tree

Startup Camp was 8 companies in various stages, but all towards the earlier side, sharing with each other and absorbing advice and inspiration from people that have been there and done that. (metaphorically speaking)

We had sessions with other programmers, experts on creating passionate users, investors, successful entrepreneurs and last but not least Tim O’Reilly. Each of these sessions and people could be a book, let alone a blog post. I have plenty of work to do, but if you are interested you might get some mileage out of searching twitter for startupcamp.

We also got to socialize with some of the people presenting and the founders from some of the OATV portfolio companies. Great people, with invaluable insight and I hope some new life long friendships…

And then there was FOO… Wow, the best word I’ve come up with so far is ‘enchanted’.

How else can you describe camping out with ~400 people all doing amazing things? I’m not sure there are many places where you could have high quality conversations about random technology, economic models, philanthropy, hypercoding, agile development, martial arts, user interfaces, data visualization, the cello, education, geometric paper folding, theoretical physics, film making and Ugandan hip hop, back to back to back. And that was just my thin slice of the experience. Puppet got a lot of love, I just hope no one found me too boorish once the topic came up. Oh, yeah, and when everyone else goes to bed, the hardcore werewolf begins… Hi, I’m Andrew, a villager.

Engaging enough that I didn’t twitter for much of it, and that is saying a lot.

My mind is still spinning from the experience and hopefully some of those racing thoughts will solidify enough to express.

Now we just need to have the kind of year that gets us invited back.

Ignite FOOCamp

I made a plea for help at FOOCamp. My current thoughts and understandings on managing business and people.

Business Philosophy, or something. . . Enjoy

(I would have posted the slides that night but apparently slideshare hates keynote and ppt/pdf generated from keynote.)

Keepin’ On

Been keeping busy, just checking in. . .

The conferences in SF (Velocity, Cloudcamp, Structure) were a great time to learn, to teach, and make friends. Puppet got a lot of love, but we still have a much grander view of the potential for the project. Puppet is still basically an awesome working prototype, the next year should see improved performance, clean and clear points for integration and a lot more reporting.

Luke showed a video of a GUI reporting application that aggregates and helps visualize Puppet’s reporting. We had a an email the next morning from a Fortune 500 company about getting into the closed beta. Looks like another large internet property is also going to be in.

This last week, I did a tiny bit of development for the 0.24.5 release and finally restyled reductivelabs.com to be a bit cleaner. I also worked on some slides about Reductive Labs for OATV StartupCamp and threw around some ideas for an Ignite talk for Foo Camp, which are both next week.

I was thinking about ‘What Would Machiavelli Do?’ because Niccolo always gets a bad wrap, but now I’m leaning towards ‘Business Advice From Western Philosophers’. (I’d still throw in some Machiavelli.) I’m going to struggle to boil things down to 20 slides but I think I can make an engaging talk. (I could probably spin at least half a dozen fun talks out with all the different philosophical schools, probably starting with ‘Existentialists‘. And then there is always the Taoists or the Sufis. . .) Feel free to make suggestions in the comments.

StartupCamp and FOOCamp are another great opportunity to get out and spread the Puppet word, but also to learn from a lot of smart people who are doing interesting things. I’m sure my mind will be buzzing this time next week, and some of that is bound to generate some interesting posts. Right?

I also am going to be at Agile 2008, and on that note, some really nice thoughts about software development and infrastructure are starting to crystallize, stay tuned. . . I promise something meaty before StartupCamp starts on the 10th.

%d bloggers like this: