This is my first mashup camp. It is certainly a unique experience. Normally I get bored in conferences by the end of the day. Not this one. Here are some features that makes this unique.
1. There is no set agenda for the conference. The participants come and propose a set of topics. These are put up in a huge paper grid. People just walk in to whatever discussion they like and spend as much time as they like. If they do not like the current discussion, they simply go to the next one. “The law of two feet” is very much in evidence. There are some zen like principles that are pervasive throughout this conference. Known as principles of Open Space, these are:
- Whoever comes are the right people.
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
- Whenever it starts is the right time.
- When it is over, it is over.
- Document your session on the wiki.
There is also the Law of Two Feet: If during the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they must use their two feet and go to some more productive place.
2. All the discussions are highly interactive. This is the most enjoyable aspect of the conference. I lead a discussion on SearchMashups (more about this in a later post). I was expecting about 5 or 6 people but more than 20 turned up. All the sessions I attended had a high degree of interactivity. In most of the sessions, audience spoke as much as the speakers.
3. The format was flexible. You could make a presentation, do a demo, lead a discussion or use any other format that suited your style. This was great. It felt natural, just like living and talking or walking. You pretty much do what you like and have fun doing it.
4. There is a conference wiki where the dialog continues. Hopefully the seeds sown in this conference will germinate and become plants by the next one.
5. I saw lots of innovative mashups in the SpeedGeeking session, phenomenal enthusiasm in the participants, people geeking it out and having fun. It has been a while since I saw this mood in the valley.
I think MashupCamp team are trendsetters. This style of “unconference” as they call it, may become the norm in future. As for me, I am not going to miss any of the conferences. I will pay and go if needed and I am sure a lot of people feel the same way.
Nice coverage in Kaliya’s blog about the event with some photos.
Here is Mashup Camp Notes from Programmable Web blog.