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Several months ago I was invited to a special FOO camp at the O'Reilly Campus, about social networking and the social graph. One of the things that the ora people did was record an interview video of each attendee. They've now put all those videos up on youtube.

Here is mine.

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My main complaint to myself when I went to FOO Camp this past summer is that I had wished I had taken better notes. I have the same problem this time. I was having so much fun and getting so much joy spending interacting, participating, and hacking, that I don't have the bandwidth to take notes.

On December 29th, I got an invitation from David Recordon [livejournal.com profile] daveman692, Scott Kveton, and Tim O'Reilly, to "Social Graph Foo Camp". I immediately said yes, of course.

MySQL Inc agreed cover my travel (a real deal for them, since they didnt have to pay a hotel), so long as I appropriately represented the company, e.g. use the company logo on slides, and so forth. So I wore my swag jacket with the logo on the back, and I ran a session, "MySQL for Social Networks: Graphs and Tags".

A couple of days before the event, I picked two names at random from the "looking for a ride" list, and ended up meeting Leslie Chicoine of Get Satisfaction, and Gavin Bell of Nature Magazine. I actually met up with Leslie at her office, and ended up having lunch with her and some of the other interesting GetSatisfaction people. We then drove to SFO to pick up Gavin, who was flying in from England. (A small and meaningless adventure ensued, where I missed a poorly marked turn at SFO international arrivals, and we ended up discovering where the municipal waste treatment plant is).

On the drive up to Sebastopol, the conversation ranged and rambled, and I didn't notice that I had completely missed the exit until I glanced at the NeverLost, to see that it was constantly recalculating the route, trying to turn me around. We had overshot by over 30
miles. Another small adventure, but we finally made it to the right place, checked in, and then the fun started.

At the introduction meeting, Tim introduced David and Scott, and then they told the story about wanting to put together a small gathering on the subject, and the "who should be there" expanded from a handful of people, to a couple of dozen people, to more than a couple of dozen people. The event kind of exploded on them, and they put it together
really fast. It helped that the O'Reilly people now have a lot of experience, both with geek conferences in general, and with FOO camps at their facility.

There was the standard "rushing the boards", tho the crush wasn't nearly so insane, with only about 100 people, instead of the 350 last summer.

There were groups and discussions about microformats, the new OpenSocial API, the graph mapping work being done by SixApart, by Google, and by Plaxo. There were people there from FaceBook, from MySpace, and from LinkedIn. There were people from Microsoft
Research, and some people from LiveSpaces. There were people from Yahoo, and from Flickr. And from Twitter and Jaiku.

Some of these systems are HUGE. Both LiveSpaces and Yahoo have active social users bases with many hundreds of MILLIONS of users, managing and moderating that many people is an interesting challenge. There are over a billion people online regularly now, and another billion will be online in a couple of years, and another billion a few years after that.

At the big introduction, I sat next to Rob Dolin, the Program Manager of Microsoft Windows Live Spaces, and showed him the unified friends status change feed that they could hook up to, and we talked about "why doesn't MSN Messanger just do XMPP".

In the geo location session, I remembered reading a couple of days ago about a service called TripIt and so signed up for it then and there. And then I discovered that Andy Denmark, their VP of Engineerings was sitting right next to me, he was
pointed out to me by the guy from Dopplr.

So Andy and I had lunch together, and he watched over my shoulder as I added my past couple of months worth of trips to their system, and I praised what it got right, and we noted what it got wrong.

I made two concrete suggestions to him. One that instead of just forwarding itenerary emails to them, they let me create a personal email address there, that I had have the airlines and travel agents directly send emails to. And that they work closely with Dopplr. What would be best is if Dopplr have a "do you have a TripIt account?" and TripIt have a "Do you have a Dopplr account?" buttons, and then sync up.

Other stuff. I geeked a fair amount with Stephen Paul Weber of DiSo, and hooked him up with Don MacAskill, tho I can't remember right now why. I got invited by Blaine Cook to a presentation on how to run huge XMPP services and about XMPP PubSub. I geek with and ate with someone from LinkedIn. I need to get all the bizcards and "rel me" links I was given into my address book, so I can remember more names...

It was cool, it was productive, and a lot of stuff happened.
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FOOcamp 2007 had/has a bespoke social network site, based on CrowdVine.

While using it, I sent in a handful of suggestions to the developer/maintainer, Tony Stubblebine. I asked for OpenID, for vCard, and for OPML. OpenID to avoid "yet another password". vCard so I could import all my neat FOOcamp contacts into my address book. OPML so I could easily import and read my contacts' blogs in my own reader.

He welcomed the suggestions, and then implemented two of them. OpenID support is "real soon now".

One of the Nice Things about the cycle of creation and destruction in technology is that when you can find something early enough in it's lifecycle, suggestions can actually be heard, understood, and implemented. What are the odds that one of the Great Big Social Network Sites would, or even could field suggested features this rapidly?

If you ever consider setting up a geek con, or anything inspired by the "unconference" ideal, talk to CrowdVine and Pathable.
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Mark Atwood
Originally uploaded by juliancash
Julian Cash, an amazing photographer, artist, and connector of cool people, took this Edible Light photo of me at FOOcamp 2007.
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One of the people I met last weekend was Simon Willison. We spent some time talking about OpenID. Like me, he's been trying to convence various sites and projects to hire him to OpenID-enable them.

One objection was "we don't want to outsource the security of our users to some unknown OpenID provider". His response is: "Do you have a 'I forgot my password, email me a new one' link? Then you're outsourcing the security of your users to some unknown email provider."

Until he said that, I had not really seen it that way. But he's right. "Email me a new password" has exactly the same data flow and security model as OpenID, only with a crappy and slow user experience.

While browing the OpenID wiki a bit, I discovered that there is now an HTTP Auth mode for OpenID. I've added patching that feature into cURL on my todo list. Have to make user there is also a matching Apache module mod_auth_openid to test against.

Someone has hacked together a quick and dirty translator portal between OpenID and XMPP (aka Jabber aka GTalk). It would be nice if the various Jabber providers added this to their respective web presences.

SourceForge has a discussion going asking for community interest in adding support for OpenID. I, of course, weighed in that they should.

It's kind of ironic that the Mailman servers that the OpenID project uses, don't use OpenID. Mailman should be one of the primary targets in having people write and submit a patch to add the feature. (Next should be BugZilla.)

OAuth is a related technology to OpenID. It's just barely getting off the ground, but I think that it will get traction and acceptance much faster.

To get OpenID spread, we need to get lots of small site operators to start supporting it, and most of them are just running their site with a precanned CMS. Getting each one to change is a slow retail one-at-a-time slog.

But OAuth isnt for small sites. It's for bigger system that provide online APIs to their service. Right now, most of the web-service providers that realize that this is important, have their own hand-rolled solution. Flickr Client Service registration, AOL OpenAuth, etc. All the sorts of things were you have to get a an application key so that some client will work with some web service, or so that you can allow some web service A to do something with some other web service B on your behalf, without having to actually give web service A your password to B.

Many of the people who designed/wrote/support the existing per-service protocols were at the BOF, and everyone wants to stop supporting their own custom stuff. There is not likely to be much if any pushback from management or marketing depts either, because maintaining one's own client client auth protocol gives no competative advantage, no "customer lockin", and makes it less likely that people will write clients or foreign service interfaces to your own service.

I'm having a vision of a convergence of OpenID, OAuth, and Atom. Once you can say "This is who I am", "You are allowed to do this for me", and "Here is what I want you to to send/post/do", and nearly every browser, cellphone, PDA, and display client understand the protocols to do so...
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I've been extended an invitation to Foo Camp.

It's the same weekend as Pride in Seattle.

D*mn it!


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Mark Atwood

October 2017

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