It’s been a few days since I returned from Foo and I have been mulling it over since it ended and reading many posts on the subject. They are generally all positive and that doesn’t surprise me since it was an excellent event. There is still a small corner of the blogosphere dedicated to ‘unFoo-ness’, basically people that seem to have a problem with not being there and so they make a big fuss about the elitism and exclusiveness of the event. I don’t know all these people but I have met some and it seems strange that they would choose to so publicly do this, but then again the O’Reilly ‘name’ has been under fire from the ‘voice’ of the blogosphere before after the Web2.0 trademark debacle.
All of that aside what I can say is that i found the event extremely stimulating, at times overly so, and I am very grateful that I got the chance to go this year, this seems to be a common theme with all the first timers entries I’ve read, very happy to be there, not sure why they are but just glad that they are.
This was raised in the closing feedback session and from what I understood it seems that those that have been there before thought that the introduction of a lot of new people took the vibe of the event back to its roots, not knowing what those roots are I can’t really say of course.
As for my own experience? I did have a conference mentality going in to the event which meant that once the sessions board was filled up I began the usual routine of planning out what sessions I should attend and cover, the number of tracks was manageable (unlike OSCON) but there were still overlaps in things that I would have liked to see so I set about canvassing opinion on what would be good, this lead to several conversations with people I may not have met otherwise, these lasted a long time generally so that by the end of the event I found that I hadn’t attended many sessions at all, however what I did do is have interesting, compelling and fun conversations for the entire weekend, which is actually a lot more draining than I thought it would be, Jetlag never helps and travelling 27 hours to get to the event and then dive right in was, in hindsight, not the best approach to this event. Not that I had to blog anything like normal, in fact I left my laptop in a room for most of the day and never touched it, except to go find a new program someone recommended (I’m still finding new apps all the time since my switch to the Mac, and I’m writing this post in one that I liked as soon as it was demoed to me by Rael – WriteRoom)
What I wish I had done though is take lots more notes to help me recall what happened over the course of 2.5 very long but interesting days..
I did have two detailed conversations about SMS and how it should and could be used more for notification of events on particular sites, I’ve long held the view that this is a primary function for the mobile in a converged world, along with remote control. Orange has an extensive 3rd party network of SMS partners and this is the obvious choice in, however it only gives access to Orange customers (albeit to all 80 million of them through our hub) hence why there are several 3rd party aggregators out there, however over the course of a discussion with Dave Sifry of Technorati it became clear that there is another opportunity here, one that I will follow up on soon to see what can be done, dare I call it SMS2.0 !. I wont put the details here for confidentiality reasons, once I’ve run it through and got an answer I’ll decide what to put up here though as I have in the past with other ideas.
In line with Tim’s current meme I had several conversations on Open Data and how the carrier (Telco to us) is ‘evil’ in the way it holds all the data back inside its walled garden, my own view is that it’s a combination of certain people not wanting to and not actually having the systems to allow them to do so. Those that don’t want to normally just don’t understand the possibilities that are there to be had, or more specifically how money can be made (directly) from doing this, often the money wont be direct revenue though but that’s another story (post) and RSI tells me it’s time to wrap this up for now.
In summary, I learnt a lot of new things outside my normal areas, met a lot of new interesting and clever people and got a lot of inspiration over the weekend, much of which will shape my thinking over the next months. If I get invited back again ( I was invited last year but couldn’t make it so it would be three in a row) then I’d know I’d want to go and also how to get even more from the weekend – take notes !!