Only one week remains until the fourth Mashup Camp and Mashup University are set to start at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. Over the last year and a half, Mashup Camp has grown to be the unofficial official social and technical gathering for everyone with an interest in the mashup community: developers, technology providers, venture capitalists, the press, researchers, and other observers. Are you on the who's coming list? If not, there's still room. We've got a great event planned, chock full of great content (part unconference, part hands-on training), ample time to hack, several contests (the grand prize for the overall Best Mashup is a brand spankin' new 17" MacBook Pro worth $2799), and at least two parties one of which will include entertainment by mashup DJs Adrian and the Mysterious D.
When Doug Gold and I announced the first Mashup Camp in December 2005, we dubbed it the unconference for the uncomputer. Since then, I remain ever more convinced that the mashup ecosystem of software development will grow to be the largest software ecosystem, ever. Bigger than any operating system (Windows, Linux, Mac, etc.), bigger than any gaming platform, and bigger than any middleware platform. There are two reasons for this (largely explained here).
First, thanks to tools out there like Andrew Bidochko's mapbuilder.net and Ning, developing software is something that no longer requires the skills of a rocket scientist. Now, grandma and/or her five-year old grandchildren can get in on the action just as easily as a professional developer can. When mortals get the opportunity to do what was once the domain of rocket scientists, suddenly, it's only a matter of time before everyone dives in. Think of how blogging sucked tens of millions of people into Web publishing (once a black art). Mashups are to software development what blogging is to Web publishing.
Second, there are no gatekeepers to the underlying platform for mashups (aka: the Internet). With all the other platforms upon which developers build their software, someone is in charge of how easy it is for developers to build something. "Easy" comes in the form of the built-in utilities that do a lot of the heavy lifting for software developers. To add a new utility (often called an "API" or application programming interface) to an existing platform like Windows or even Linux in a way that it's generally available to everybody, someone has to approve it. For Windows, maybe that someone is Bill Gates. For Linux, maybe its Linus Torvalds. But for the Internet, it's nobody.
The result is that hundreds of these utilities (again, APIs) are being added to the Internet at breakneck pace (thanks to John Musser, here the most complete list), many of which do things (eg: mapping) that we've never seen done as a standard part of one of the traditional platforms. Now, with large and small organizations alike (from giants like eBay to smaller outfits like Eventful) flooding the Internet with these highly functional and often transactional APIs (from maps to credit card charging), the Internet is now unrivaled (vs. the traditional platforms) in terms of facilities available to software developers. It's not even a contest which is why developers are flocking to develop the type of software that draws on those facilities: mashups.
Starting on Monday, July 16th, Mashup University is a two-day crash course on developing mashups. The lead-off presenter is John Herren who is probably best known in developer circles as the developer of TagCloud. John will be giving an introduction to mashup development. In other words, no experience is necessary (although it will help to have a notebook computer with you). John's presentation will be followed by a parade of sponsoring technology providers who will teach attendees how to use their technologies and APIs when "mashing up" software.
Then, on Tuesday night (the 17th) -- the night before Camp starts -- there will be a meetup/warmup social gathering at the Hotel Avante in Mountain View. This meetup usually includes some demos and hacking. Mashup Camp, the unconference portion of the event, kicks off on Wednesday morning (the 18th) and then Wednesday night, will be the big party followed by another day of Camp.
As has been the case with previous Mashup Camps, we'll be doing something called SpeedGeeking where mashup developers (or should we call them artists?) get to show off their wares to all event attendees and then, after all the demos are complete, everyone votes for their favorite mashup. For the closing ceremonies on Thursday afternoon, we'll award a 17" MacBook Pro (2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo-based) to the first place winner, a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort 3 noise-cancelling headphones to the second place winner (my wife gave me a pair of these for Christmas), and a Garmin handheld GPS unit (looks like it will be the eTrex Venture).
It's always a great time to be had by all (plus, you get fed). Hope to see you there.