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When Geeks Go Camping 382

Posted by michael
from the camptown-racers-sing-a-song dept.
mikep.maine writes "CNN and Business 2.0 have an interesting article on Tim O'Reilly's Foo camp for geeks - not just any geek - people like Google founders, Tim Bray (invented XML), and venture capitalists. Stashed away in the rolling hills north of San Francisco ... Foo Camp, a new breed of geek gathering organized (somewhat) by O'Reilly & Associates. The idea: Get 200 or so smart folks with a lot in common together in one place at one time, let them pitch tents, toss in a Wi-Fi network, and see what happens. Turns out, quite a lot. You are as likely to bump into a founder of Google (both were there) as the vice chairman of Warburg Pincus. Yes, they had Wi-Fi and marshmallows."
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When Geeks Go Camping

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  • Geeks! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:30PM (#7934172)
    Well, I consider myself a geek, but when I go out camping, all I need to take with me is a couple of gallons of gasoline and then I got entertainment for a whole weekend.
    • Re:Geeks! (Score:4, Funny)

      by maelstrom (638) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @09:18PM (#7934834) Homepage Journal
      So do you burn it or sniff it?

      • Re:Geeks! (Score:2, Funny)

        by Atticu5 (693001)
        An artsman and an Engineer once found a gallon can,
        Said the artsman, "Match me drink for drink, let's see if you're a man."
        They drank three drinks, the artsman fell, his face was turning green,
        But the Engineer drank on and said, "It's only gasoline!"

        (from the Engineer's Hymn [oneparticularharbor.net]).
    • Re:Geeks! (Score:3, Funny)

      by AtomicBomb (173897)
      The trick is to burn sufficient amount of material. May it be gasoline, charcoal, wood and whatever. No insect, rabbit, eagle, bear or whatsoever want to move close to you....

      Many geeks love fire. Or in fact anything with high energy (performance??) that they can play around with... I think I don't need to mention those homemade HPM, rail gun, pumpkin Trebuchet projects to anyone around here...
  • omgwtf (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you went camping with your geek friends and you woke up the next morning and your butt hurt and you couldn't remember what happened would you tell anyone?

    no...

    Want to go camping?
  • by rduke15 (721841) <rduke15 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:32PM (#7934187)
    they had Wi-Fi and marshmallows

    I suppose that's a typo. You meant mushrooms, no?
  • by SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:33PM (#7934195) Journal
    Do they all sit around the campfire popping pimples and telling network management horror stories while holding LED flashlights under their chins.
  • have purty mouths. Can you squeal like a pig?"

    I'll stick with the city, thank you very much.

  • by AndroidCat (229562) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:33PM (#7934198) Homepage
    We'll go snipe fragging!
  • . . . like orienteering, starting fires with sticks, learning how to walk on dirt, and not petting badgers.

    Stefan
  • I dunno man (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sulli (195030) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:34PM (#7934210) Journal
    Chaos Communication Camp [www.ccc.de] sounded more fun. Wish I could have made it.
    • I don't know if they're still going, but a bunch of the local Cypherpunks gang decided that CCCC would be fine to do and went to the first few. 2500 people and six E1 lines the first time :-) Electricity was a constraint at the first one - "Use gas stoves or fire for cooking - conserve electricity for the computers!" It was a geeking focus rather than Burning Man's arts focus, but lots of the same crowd do both.
  • hehehe (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dark Lord Seth (584963) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:35PM (#7934211) Journal
    Tim O'Reilly's Foo camp for geeks - not just any geek - people like Google founders, Tim Bray (invented XML), and venture capitalists.
    The idea: Get 200 or so smart folks with a lot in common together in one place at one time, let them pitch tents, toss in a Wi-Fi network, and see what happens.

    So, were the VCs there for comic relief then? Please say so, it'll be very hard to sleep tonight when I keep grinning like this...

  • by young_hacker_1991 (739658) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:35PM (#7934214) Journal
    There's not a lot of difference between outdoorsy boyscout types and computer geeks -- I have several friends who enjoy both, and I'm sure there's a lot of overlap between both groups in general. Both camping and hacking require an ability to pay *very close* attention to relatively tedious tasks, and offer a similar feeling of relaxed accomplishment.

    My dad and I go camping all the time, and he's the one who's encouraged me to get into computers!
  • by MadChicken (36468) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:35PM (#7934216) Homepage Journal
    Camping is the anti-tech. It's the ultimate getaway when over-teched.

    Camping is not about wi-fi. It's about burning things. And reading fiction.
    • by rw2 (17419) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:48PM (#7934319) Homepage
      Camping is the anti-tech

      Codswallup. Camping is very high tech. It may not typically have many electronic parts, but it is very high tech in almost every other way. Heck ever when it comes to transistors GPS and two-ways are devices many wouldn't care to do without.

      *And* you've missed (or made light of) the entire point. Get away from the office and chat with your peers about the work that makes you peers. They happened to do it camping. Sounds fun to me!

      Maybe we should have slashstock at a national park somewhere.
      • by s0l0m0n (224000) on Friday January 09, 2004 @09:21PM (#7934840) Homepage
        Depends on how you camp. My tent is kind of high tech (if you consider aluminum poles and canvas high tech), as is the stove.. Sure, we've got a tent with fiberglass poles, but it seems like the dogs always crash through it in the dark, breaking the poles.

        My reason for camping (which I do a lot of) is not to get away from the office. It's to get away from the noise of the city. It's to get back to the way I grew up. I don't take my peers camping. I take my freinds, and my family.

        I sure don't need a gps to know where I am. A map, a compass and the sun seem to work pretty good. I sure don't have WiFi in camp. Can yell almost that far. I don't bring my laptop, because I don't go out there to do the same thing that I do everyday.

        They brought Venture Capitalists to the picnic says to me that this was a purely bussiness meeting in an abnormal setting, nothing more. I'm sure that the folks who went will remember it for the rest of thier lives. I'd have run for the woods, personally.

        josh
    • Come on... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Faust7 (314817) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:51PM (#7934340) Homepage
      Camping is not about wi-fi. It's about burning things.

      Actually, I'd say that a great deal of the thrill in geek-camping comes from having lots of sophisticated electronic equipment in a setting where it's not really supposed to exist. The surreal superposition, the defiance of nature and embracing of technology -- I mean, cool, eh?

      And reading fiction.

      So load up Slashdot while you're out in the forest.
      • "So load up Slashdot while you're out in the forest."

        Yes, this has to be THE funniest thing I've read in a while on /.--please mod this one up
      • > And reading fiction.

        So load up Slashdot while you're out in the forest.

        Or the latest claims from SCO. :)

      • Re:Come on... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Telex4 (265980)
        Actually, I'd say that a great deal of the thrill in geek-camping comes from having lots of sophisticated electronic equipment in a setting where it's not really supposed to exist. The surreal superposition, the defiance of nature and embracing of technology -- I mean, cool, eh?

        Why do people like feeling that they're defying nature? To borrow an old Taoist saying, When you climb up a mountain, you haven't conquered that mountain... the mountain has lifted you up that high. What a team -- you and the mount
    • by pavon (30274) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:55PM (#7934370)
      You are looking at it like a vacation. Think of it instead as the ultimate telecomute:

      * You don't have to pay rent
      * You don't have to shower
      * You get to live off ramen noodles
      * The company pager is futile
      * You have the biggest most scenic office window ever.

      Sounds like a geeks dream to me :)
    • But none of the latest hand-held submersable GPS equipment can play OGG, damnit.
    • every hardcore camper buys hightech gortex jackets, microfiber sweat wicking thermals, reverse osmosis water filters, carbon fiber tent poles. And silicone based lube so they can get fucked in the ass by a wandering bear.

      Camping is for hippies.

      • every hardcore camper buys hightech gortex jackets, microfiber sweat wicking thermals, reverse osmosis water filters, carbon fiber tent poles. And silicone based lube so they can get fucked in the ass by a wandering bear.

        It's a good point that much camping gear is high-tech and expensive, but I still feel that being warm and comfortable is somehow different from playing Quake (or what you suggested) with bears.

        For news, status, updates, scientific info, images, video, and more, check out:
        Mars Explo [axonchisel.net]

    • I plan to set up a nearby Bar camp, which will be about getting drunk. It will be the ultimate getaway when over-everythinged. And no newfangled CO2 tap for me- I'm going to pump that keg the old-fashioned way.
  • This sounds great! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yebb (142883) *
    I think Slashdot'ers should organize such things!
    I'd go.
  • I am a geek but when I go camping the gear stays at home. Instead I drink alot of home brewed beer and play cool games with the ladies like spoons, mexican, naked twister,etc ...
    • The phrase "with the ladies" shows that you are NOT a geek.

      Or maybe you are a geek and you're just saying "with the ladies" so you look less stupid than if you say "with the guys."
  • Nice to see that they mentioned dashboard [nat.org] in the article and at Foo Camp.
  • by va3atc (715659) * on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:37PM (#7934232) Homepage Journal
    put all the wi-fi access points in one spot
    and you have yourself an outdoor lowpower microwave :)
  • UF Storyline (Score:5, Informative)

    by Beolach (518512) <beolach@NoSPam.juno.com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:37PM (#7934234) Homepage Journal
    This storyline [userfriendly.org] on UserFriendly is about geeks camping. It's one of the best storylines, IMO. It continues until July 04, 2000.
  • Too easy (Score:3, Funny)

    by worst_name_ever (633374) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:38PM (#7934243)
    Get 200 or so smart folks with a lot in common together in one place at one time, let them pitch tents...

    Ladies and gentlemen of the audience, you are cordially invited to supply your own joke here.

  • But a computer is fucking heavy. My pack is heavy enough with food and shelter and extra clothes. About the most high tech thing I take is my iso-butane stove and my water filter.
    • > But a computer is fucking heavy. My pack is heavy enough with food and
      > shelter and extra clothes. About the most high tech thing I take is my
      > iso-butane stove and my water filter.

      Dude, your priorities are off. A butane stove? That's way heavier than a
      laptop, and totally unnecessary. (It's *much* more fun to cook with real
      fire. Take a box of strike-anywhere matches.) Water filter? C'mon, get
      real. If you're seriously worried about the water, boil it, but in most of
      North America (as long a
      • but in most of
        North America (as long as you're not right downhill from a big city) the
        ground water is potable as it stands


        I'd advise you to Google for "beaver fever" but you probably wouldn't get the result I'm thinking of (SafeSearch probably won't let you search at all...) And darned if I can remember the formal name for it. Somebody else remember? Anybody? Bueller?

  • So it's pretty much what geeks do at home, sans campfire and threat of animal attacks?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:40PM (#7934264)
    Geek camp? I guess the fact that the campsites don't have showers won't be a problem for these folks.
  • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:43PM (#7934285)
    Um, Sebastopol's not near any rolling San Francisco hills. I lived their a few year ago. It's at least an hour and a half north... if traffic is good.

    And on a side note. I wish I would've stayed friends with the folks I knew at O'Reilly, Then perhaps I could've gone to geek camp :(

    damn :(

  • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:46PM (#7934310) Homepage Journal
    "He was all alone in the house, when suddenly...the Blue Screen of Death appeared right in front of him!"

  • by wo1verin3 (473094) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:49PM (#7934324) Homepage
    Around the campfire sat the founders of Google when someone came around and tried to scare them with a SCOst story..
  • by swb (14022) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:49PM (#7934325)
    Elites have been grouping together in these kinds of retreats forever. Bohemian Grove is one of the older ones, although it tends to attract more of an "old money" crowd and I believe is all male as well. Then there's that one out east that Clinton made somewhat well known during his tenure.

    All in all, I don't really see why its news. That VCs were there just explains its about figuring out new business schemes under the guise of fun. I guess Tim O'Reilly's presence there somehow adds a sheen of approval over all of it.

    As far as camping goes, the most advanced thing I take with is a gas stove. Why the fuck you'd want Wifi or any of the other trappings of city life in the peaceful woods is beyond me.
    • As far as camping goes, the most advanced thing I take with is a gas stove. Why the fuck you'd want Wifi or any of the other trappings of city life in the peaceful woods is beyond me.

      Yeah... That explains why they've made millions running tech companies and you're trolling Slashdot.
    • All in all, I don't really see why its news. That VCs were there just explains its about figuring out new business schemes under the guise of fun. I guess Tim O'Reilly's presence there somehow adds a sheen of approval over all of it.

      Come on. It's not about camping, it's about networking. No one goes camping with 1000 other people.

  • by twoslice (457793) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:50PM (#7934327)
    "It is pitch black, you are likely to be eaten by a grue"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:50PM (#7934337)
    It's always interesting reading his journal and here's his take on the camp.

    http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2003/10/11/ FooNotes [tbray.org]
  • Get a life.
    Enough said.
  • by tbray (95102) on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:10PM (#7934486) Homepage Journal
    There were 11 other people on the committee and a couple hundred more in the discussion group. Geez.
  • by 3lb4rt0 (736495)
    Do they all sit around a campfire and Instant Message ghost stories??
  • by switcha (551514) on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:20PM (#7934535)
    And if anyone brought a Powerbook, bonus for them!

    No fire needed for toasted marshmallows!

  • You are as likely to bump into a founder of Google (both were there) as the vice chairman of Warburg Pincus.
    Actually, you'd be twice as likely to bump into a founder of Google as the vice chairman of Warburg Pincus.
    • Actually, you'd be twice as likely to bump into a founder of Google as the vice chairman of Warburg Pincus.

      Colision probablity is a strong function of velocity, cross section and shielding. It is a weak function of shape.

  • I live about 20 minutes from Sebastopol! I rock! :-p
  • caption fun (Score:4, Funny)

    by mrpuffypants (444598) * <mrpuffypants@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:37PM (#7934621)
    caption this picture if you dare! It's from the camping expedition...

    http://www.searls.com/doc/foocamp2003/roll1/imag e/ foodoc_38.jpg
    • Offhand, I'd title it "Statistical anomaly," since the ratio of male to female geeks is 1:1. How often does that happen?
  • Whatever happened to the Geek Cruises [geekcruises.com]? Or is that just for posers?
  • by use_compress (627082) on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:53PM (#7934708) Journal
    The following things happen:
    1. Nose bleeds
    2. Homesickness
    3. Experimentation
    4. Under cooked hotdogs
    5. Lost Maps
    6. Eventual Helicopter Rescue
  • by swimfastom (216375) on Friday January 09, 2004 @09:00PM (#7934752) Homepage
    For relaxation, campers ... disassembled a Toyota Prius, then put it back together again (it was a rental).

    Sounds like fun!
  • Elitism is bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fefe (6964) on Friday January 09, 2004 @09:21PM (#7934841) Homepage
    How do you help society or mankind if you bring together 200 dot-com millionaires and let them talk about how to make more money by relaying emails?

    Yeah I am oversimplifying this, but here in Europe, we have been doing geek camping for years. We have a geek summer camp every two years, alternating between Holland and Germany. And you know what? We let everyone in, not just the rich and famous.

    And it pays off. This kind of elitism is bad for everyone. Where do you expect the next generation of good hackers to come from if you don't let them come to your hacker camps? Elitism leads to losing the ground under your feet.

    And it makes the whole thing less fun. The harder you have to fight or the more you have to have achieved to be perceived as the "brightest and most intelligent" people who are then allowed in, the less you can just be yourself, the more this becomes an ego show where everyone is concerned about how to look good so he will be invited again next year. It's style over substance.

    And frankly, who cares about the Google founders?
    Who cares about some egomanic bloggers who write up profound sounding essays on their blogs to keep their name in circulation? The people who are really important and interesting are people like Brewster Kahle (archive.org) and John Gilmore (eff).
  • ...Nine months later...nothing notable happens.
  • Rainbow Gathering (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @09:31PM (#7934890) Journal
    Here's my 'Geeks go Camping' story. I go to the national Rainbow Gathering every year and camp for a couple weeks. For the majority of you that don't know about Rainbow, it's a gathering of twenty to forty thousand freaks of all stripes. All kinds of people go, not just hippies: there are large Christian, Jewish, and Krishna contingents, even an AA group. It's free, but donations are accepted (they go mostly toward food, which is also free) and it has a mostly non-heirarchal, anarchistic sort of organization. Volunteer wherever you want, or don't, donate money, or don't, it's all good. I usually work at least six hours a day at the medical tent while there, and pitch in money the years that I can afford to.

    One camp there, called cybercamp, is a meeting point for geeks. I don't know if they have ever set up a local wi-fi network, but a lot of folks bring laptops. One of my friends there, Rob Savoy, is very involved in open source (he works on the gcc project, porting the compiler to new platforms). He also helps set up our old fashioned communications system, consisting of walkie-talkies with a repeater.

    Like I said, it's a free event, and cash isn't used in the gathering except for donations, but people love to trade. Trade circle, as it's called, looks like a hippy version of a middle eastern bazaar. One year another friend of mine made a killing there, scoring a number of interesting, um, items by burning custom CDs for folks (eek! copyright violation! damn hippies want everything for free.)

    If you live out in the boonies and you hear that a national Rainbow Gathering is coming, don't freak out. These hippies don't (generally) shoplift, and we won't steal (many) of your children, but we will pump hundrds of thousands of dollars into your local economy. Most every place that has had one says, "come back any time!"

    So that's my 'geeks camping' story, and my little plug for the Rainbow Gathering: coolest anarchist gathering anywhere, non-anarchists, geeks and libertarians welcome too.
  • geek =! VC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Awptimus Prime (695459) on Friday January 09, 2004 @09:41PM (#7934943)
    Since when is a VC considered a geek? It seems to go against a true love for whatever you are investing in. Since the VC are the first to pump and dump, meanwhile leaving the tech firm they invested in holding the bag. Much of the time this stifles technology, as opposed to helping.

    I've met a few VC's over the years and would put them in a completely different kind of boat than anyone who cares about anything beyond lining the wallet, hence the term 'venture capitalist'...

  • Overprepared? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kalieaire (586092) on Friday January 09, 2004 @09:43PM (#7934954)
    Is it me, or are geeks always a bit overprepared?

    When I used to work at a small start up company, we weren't full of those stereotypical portly nerds that drink mountain dew all day long and have a goofy laugh.

    Instead, we had nice upstart individuals that were well motivated and very athletic. (if it's any consolation to you, they didn't take showers after working out)

    Whenever there were any sorts of group events, we'd have at least two individuals with experience with hiking, backpacking, rock climb, scuba diving, spelunking, sky diving, flying jets or planes, rocketry, maguyvering stuff(a lot of them were engineers in mechanical, electrical, chemical, etcetera btw), and even inventing little items for personal use with fellow hobbyists.

    Yes, I believe it is the insatiable quality of nerds that keep them above the rest in society. Always prepared for any event. If you stuck them on an island without electricity or any signs of human life, they'd be able to make a quaint existence on it until someone rescued them.

    For examples of weirdness and whackiness for self made items. Check out this forum [candlepowerforums.com] for flashlight enthusiasts.

    A bunch of them make their own flashlights, or even offer modifications to Mag-Lites to make them into hand-held HID setups just like the UnderWater Kinetics Light Cannon 100 HID Dive Light [uwkinetics.com]

    Yes, nerds are too overprepared.

  • by IM6100 (692796) <elben@mentar.org> on Saturday January 10, 2004 @04:06AM (#7936474)
    An importan question:

    With everybody there being an equally good candidate to be the guy whose underwear are run up the flagpole, who would they choose?

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