I spent Thursday and Friday at Startup Camp, at the Computer History Museum. This event was sort of originally my idea, but smart Sun people retained the good parts—make it an unConference, involve David Berlind—and discarded my silly theming notions; the “Startup Camp” pitch obviously touched a nerve, because the place was packed.
My notes on the event are pretty disorganized, and I can’t think of an obvious way to straighten them out, sorry.
Web Video · There were a couple of sessions on multimedia. YouTube has proved that anyone can post video to the Net in a way that anyone else can see, as long as you don’t mind it looking like shit. For people like me, who care about high-quality video, the news is lousy. As soon as you start asking Someone Who Knows about What You Should Do, they descend into arcana about codecs and de-interlacing and MPEG-this and AVC-that. Someone will eventually get it right.
Good Sound-Bites · “Your garage is your personal input/output port.” “Second Life? I don’t have a first life” - Dave Sifry. “All the major players in Identity think they have the best protocol. They can’t all be right” - Johannes Ernst.
Second Life · Jeff Barr was much in evidence, wowing everyone with how he uses Second Life to support his evangelism work. I still fail to really “get Second Life”, but this sounds like it might be an actual practical useful application. I was sufficiently motivated to sign up for a year’s paid membership and walk Bengal Solzhenitsyn into a store and buy him a new cowboy hat. (But I really want a sharp Humphrey-Bogart fedora.)
Speed Geeking · It works great! If you can’t give your pitch in five minutes, you’re hosed anyhow, and if you’ve heard lots of pitches, you know that most of them are bad, and the guarantee that you’ll be out in five minutes is a big plus. The good ones, you can go back and talk to later.
And I thought the Startup-Camp speed geek-out came out fair; prizes went to Zooomr, EchoSign, Automattic, and an as-yet-unnamed Fashion Predictor startup (they got my vote, and you’ll be reading more about them here if they get off the ground).
Why? · Why did Sun put this on? To listen. This is the pointy end of the pointy end of the economy’s hottest growth area. Sun is pretty good at figuring out what big Establishment companies need, but it’s actually hard to guess what next year’s startups are going to care about. So get a bunch of ’em in the room and listen and they’ll tell you. Cheap at the price.