Major thanks to Tim O’Reilly, Sara Winge, and the rest of the O’Reillians for doing this another year. They’re doing the community and the world a major favor and if they weren’t so smart I’d worry there won’t be enough coming back from the community to make it worth their while. Last year’s notes here, here, and especially here apply, but one or two more things are worth saying.

For me, Foo is like a big deep warm comfy two-day bath. Northern California in September is reliably lovely, the food and drink are decent and plentiful, but of course it’s all about the people. No attitude, no cliques, and—this is important—lots of time. It’s just two days, but the sessions aren’t packed in that tight and the hanging-out atmosphere is so great that a lot of hanging-out happens. Speaking only for myself, whenever it dawned on me that I wanted to talk to this or that or the other person, I had no trouble tracking them down and getting time to do it.

A couple of conversations are worthy of note. Larry Wall brought the house down in the opening session when everyone gets to apply three labels to themselves; he stood up and said “Larry Wall, cult leader.”

Larry Wall

We talked about this and that; he snickered at my surprising regex finding and when I outlined the niches where static languages still beat Perl and Python and so on, he explained how Perl 6 and Parrot are going to change that. Larry and I met first back in the early XML days, but it turns out the history is longer than you’d think.

Sam Ruby and I quietly did a little Atom business, hanging out on the O’Reilly patio makes a pleasant change from the torrential working-group mailing list.

That session where the ETag/Vary trick got worked out, that was a very intense hour I can tell you. Question: who actually had the idea first? Of course, having the Trotts and Scoble and Sam Ruby and Jeremy Zawodny and Greg Stein and Mark Fletcher there helped, and lots of other people said smart things. Steve Gillmor worries that this new idea will discriminate in favor of big rich operators; I’m not convinced, but we’ll have to keep our eyes on it.

Jeremy Zawodny listening

Jeremy Zawodny listening hard.

Once the idea was pretty clear, I put my hand up and asked where we were going to write it down, and they looked blankly at me and said more or less “whaddaya mean, we’ll just do it.” Sorry guys, this kind of thing should be written down! I’ll write a bloody Internet Draft myself for the Atom WG if nobody else does.

I got to meet Aaron Straup Cope whose writing and graphics I’ve admired for years, and he turns out to be a hacker who wants to be a painter... that reminds me of something. Here’s Aaron.

Aaron Straup Cope

Bram Cohen is best-known for BitTorrent but has a damn interesting blog; he was one of the three people who let me know that XML was probably a mistake and anyhow pretty well useless for their app. I did my best evil laugh and told ’em resistance was useless, you’re getting XML in your toothpaste these days.

Bram Cohen

Plus, the kids had a great time. What’s not to like? Thanks to the Sebastopolians.

Tim and Christina O’Reilly

Tim and Christina O’Reilly

Oh yes, I told Stewart Brand how much his work meant to me. And long overdue too.

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September 13, 2004
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