Foo Camp takeaways 2015

I came back from a whirlwind trip to Foo Camp just last week. Now that the dust has settled, with a bit of distance, it’s time to look back and take a first look at what resonated most…

This was my third time at Foo, I think, and a lot more relaxed than the first time.

It’s all about the people

My mind was, and still is, blown by all the sessions and conversations – in the hallways, over dinner, at the campfire at night. It’s an intense, widely interested and very, very smart crowd, which makes for an exhilarating mix. It also helps that it feels very anti-hierarchical there: A side effect of people camping and/or sleeping on the floor in the office no doubt. I enjoy that a lot as it removes a lot of the social awkwardness.

Also, a very, very disproportionate part of participants wears more than one hat. It’s an event of multi-affiliates. I feel like a fish in the water among that crowd as there’s no need to explain that yes, you have this company but also this side project but also this other thing… It’s great.

Also, despite basically being in conversations non-stop for 2.5 days, looking at the list of members made me realize just how many people I didn’t talk to…

Foo in hashtags

Everybody picks their own path through the conference. It’s a classic (maybe the classic?) unconference after all: Every participant can host a session, and attend others. So everyone will have a very different experience and cover many different topics.

If I was to summarize my weekend there in hashtags, it’d look something like this: #EMPATHY #BRAINS #SCIFI #ZEBRAFISH #AXES

Yes, axes. Don’t ask.


I hosted one session about smart homes (“The connected home is a complicated place. Help me understand it!”), and co-hosted another together with Dan Hon which turned into an intimate conversation out on the lawn (next to a beer tasting no less).

The connected home session was, for me, an extension of our recent trip to Casa Jasmina, and also turned – and I’d like to submit this in as Exhibit A of Evidence for Concrete Output – into this ongoing series of posts I just started, Understanding the Connected Home. It’s a topic I think will stay relevant for the next decade or so, and hence is worth engaging with on a bit deeper level.

The session with Dan was based on the debate around startup regulation (regulatory barriers vs data-based accountancy), and we happily veered off course to explore all kinds of other areas. As any good discussion should.

Other highlights

My list of things to look up, dig deeper into and read/click/listen to is too long and messy to share here (this list of “books to read this year” is pretty dope, though), but two sessions did stand out to me amongst the one I participated in:

Ramez Naam ran a great one on Brain 2.0, basically a mix of neuro tech 101 and “what’s the state of the art in brain implants”. Totally mind-blowing, especially since it’s an area I don’t know much about and couldn’t have asked for a better primer.

Alistair Croll co-hosted an excellent session on Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence & Big Data. (As you do.)

But there were so many more that were great, and a huge number more I didn’t get to attend… If you’ve ever been to an unconference, a barcamp or anything, you know how it is. And they’re all free of marketing, too, which is such a relief.

Session board

Just one of three session boards.

Also, the fantastic Jeremiah Flynn ran his tintype photo studio practically day & night, so I left with a very dramatic/serious tintype:

Tintype by Jeremiah Flynn

(Thanks, Jeremiah and team!)

Thanks to Sarah, Tim and the whole team for putting this all together and inviting me!


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