Cliques, invitations and meritocracies

So am I paranoid? Are invite-only events a necessary evil? Or should I let my curiousity overcome my principles? Hey, maybe one of those web 2.0 types could help me enable comments on my blog… — Rusty Russell, The foocamp clique?

… so I wrote down some of my musings for Rusty in an email, but then another discussion prompted similar thoughts, so I figured I’d blog about it. Of course, I did take the opportunity to suggest that Rusty try WordPress. 😉

Pia and I went to baacamp (ha ha, “baa”, etc.) last year, being on the O’Reilly radar through my participation in OSCON and stuff like that.

Although it was sponsored by O’Reilly, it was very much a Nat thing compared to the “real” O’Reilly FOOcamps. They’re all very skewed towards Web 2.0 people and topics, but working with a different crowd who care about Freedom in different ways is great… It resets your reality distortion field, no matter how much clarity you start with!

It’s easy to forget, but linux.conf.au is also very cliquey, even beyond the silly name. 🙂

The invite-only thing is a bit weird, but if you have faith in the person doing the inviting, it’s very similar to the trust we invest in our FLOSS leaders, and the meritocracy which stems from them. For instance, Nat asks the people he invites to suggest other people, and uses that feedback very well. So, it’s like accepting or rejecting patches, and filtering good and bad contributors. 🙂

There’s also the problem of trying to inflict ideas about Software Freedom onto other, sometimes incompatible, structures and interactions. I think there are a lot of dangers to that route — largely because I’m not a crazy libertarian or genuine anarchist — and because I think misapplication of those ideas leads to the kind of behaviours that are well described in Geek Social Fallacies.

Finally, foocamp inspired greatness in its bizarro mirror image arch nemesis, barcamp. I had to say arch nemesis for effect. I like the idea of conference philosophies competing with each other in some kind of comic book Dante’s Inferno thinking man’s action-comedy.

If baacamp didn’t conflict with linux.conf.au, we’d be there in a jiffy. I’m falling in love with New Zealand and its inhabitants. We have a lot to learn from them, but also a lot to share. Some of our NZ friends are here this week, helping us turn Australia’s OOXML vote from “abstain” to “no” — hooray! 🙂

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