Update on Mashup Camp

In response to my announcement of Mashup Camp (the unconference about the uncomputer), the inundation of email -- most of which arrived over the holidays -- has been overwhelming and I'm still trying to catch up.  So, please accept my apologies if I haven't gotten back to you.
Written by David Berlind, Inactive

In response to my announcement of Mashup Camp (the unconference about the uncomputer), the inundation of email -- most of which arrived over the holidays -- has been overwhelming and I'm still trying to catch up.  So, please accept my apologies if I haven't gotten back to you.  I'm whittling through them as fast as I can and you'll probaby hear from me or the co-organizer (and event guru) Doug Gold in the next day or two (if you haven't already).  I'm already getting a lot of follow-ups asking if there are any more details and if the time and place has been selected.  So, here's an update:

If you check out Eventful.com (just one of many API providers that mashup developers can use), you'll see that March is full of technology events such as SXSW, Microsoft's Mix06, eTech, and PC Forum that we don't want Mashup Camp to bump into.  So, the target window for Mashup Camp is mid-to-late Feburary and it will probably be an evening-day-evening event (a gathering the night before, then a full day, and then, hopefully, closing cermonies at a brewpub or something like that).  The location will most likely be in the Bay Area and probably south of the city (San Francisco).  One person pointed out that if we hold Mashup Camp in the city, it might cost significantly more for the attendees to park than to attend (that's if you can find a place to park).  I agree.  That would be a little strange (ps: in trying to be mindful of starving young developers' wallets, the goal is for the event to be free or as close to free as possible). So, we're still working on venue but should have something finalized very soon.  For this pilot event (version 1.0 if you will), we're shooting for somewhere around 250 people, give or take.  The emails are still rolling in. So, if you definitely want to attend, please write soon.  Mashup Camp is not invitation only.  It's open to anyone.

The plan is for a "where the rubber meets the road" event.  In other words, there won't be any executive speeches or interviews with CEOs or anything like that.  The goal is to get mashup developers into the same room as the architects of the APIs that those developers are using.  These two groups make up the community of innovators who are actually getting things done.

We'll be using the less conventional (yes, that's a double entendre) "unconference" discussion format as opposed to the talking head format.  Already, we have several proposals for thought provoking discussions that should be of interest to developers, API providers or both.  For example, believe it or not, there's a cost associated with API provision.  With the various API providers trying to figure out the best way to make the most of the APIs they're providing, there will be at least one discussion about business models (Will API providers charge for API access and if so, what can developers bear? Or, is there another approach?). 

As the APIs are changing rapidly and collections of them evolve into platforms, another proposed discussion has to do with standards that can take the complexity out of long term code management.  One venture capitalist who is interested in investing in nothing but mashups has already come forward and suggested a discussion on how mashup developers can turn their innovations into a business.  We're hoping for 8 to 12 of these discussions.  If you have a discussion topic that you think would be of interest to this group, please let us know.  We're also looking to keep several time slots open for ad-hoc topics that can be added while the event is in progress.

There will also be ample open networking time for API providers and developers to mingle.  One goal, in addition to a lot of brainstorming and idea sharing, is for mashup developers to come away better informed about who all the API providers are, what their API offerings are (did you know that Yahoo! now has upwards of 40 APIs?), what's coming in the future, and to get any technical questions ironed out.  Based on the information that's available, who knows?  Perhaps some new mashups will get developed right there at Mashup Camp.

Innovation is supposed to be both fun and rewarding.  If all goes as planned, there will be a contest for the best mashup and the first prize will be well worth the attendance if you're the developer of the winning mashup (trust me, it's pretty hot).

In the coming days, we're hoping to launch www.mashupcamp.com.  Once launched, you'll find a wiki at that site where some of this activity (getting more details, proposing discussions, signing up, etc.) will be centralized.  Since the pilot version of Mashup Camp is a exhibitorless event (in other words, there's really no budget), we'll be looking for some good Samaritans within the mashup community to take care of the food, the coffee, the badges, etc.  It's that sort of "community matchmaking," that wikis are perfect for (amongst other things).

One note:  Mashup Camp is not to be confused with Chris Messina's Mash Pit.  Chris serves as Director of Experience and Open Source Amabassador at open source-based browser provider Flock (here's the FAQ on what Flock is up to).  He's looking to pull together a small group of people (12 or so) for what he's calling a "one-day micro-hackathon."  Chris originally referred to his get January 17 get-together as Mashup Camp too, but later agreed that using the same name for two different events could lead to some confusion.  Especially since they're due to take place in the same locality around the same time.  So, he was kind enough to make the change.  Thanks Chris!

While we wait for the wiki to get turned on, if you have questions, proposals, suggestions, ideas, or want to sign-up for Mashup Camp, please let us know.  Email me at david.berlind@cnet.com and Doug at velogold@gmail.com.  [Tagged @ Technorati as MashupCamp and Mashup Camp]

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