a view into the sordid life i lead

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Campy + Bar-ish = BarCamp (?)

Being on the Free/Open Source bandwagon for as long as I have been I've come to realize that the reason for my love of the FLOSS is open, unrestricted collaboration. And if there are any restrictions imposed they just stop mattering, at least from the actual implementation perspective, since the code is open, and anyone can change it.
I've been watching as companies in my fair town (fairfield, Iowa) struggle with technology and implementation ideas and re-invent the wheel constantly due to a certain amount of paranoia, unwillingness to collaborate, and often just plain lack of knowledge. There are too many people who don't know that there are options beyond OSX and Windows. There are too many people who think .NET is the ultimate say in web development. There are too many people who think a Windows Domain Controller solves the world's problems.
Ok, that was probably a bit of hyperbole, and a bit of M$ bashing. But that's not really the intent. .Net is a great platform. Microsoft creates a lot of excellent solutions. But when people don't realize that there are other, better, more appropriate solutions to their needs, something is wrong.
Lest this turn into a prostletizing of how great technology is, I'll say for the record that technology is only an enabler. Just like paper, pen and chalkboard are enablers. I want to get away from the concept of technology for technology's sake. There are a multitude of problems that can be solved by collaboration and shared knowledge pools. It just so happens that technology provides the tools to make collaboration easy.
Hence BarCamp.
Fairfield is in dire need of a regular collaboration event where the permaculturists, farmers, artists, technologists and community planners need to come together to find solutions to their needs. And make the product of their labors available for the next group to work with and build on and enrich our community. Just to take a few very obvious cases:

  • Sustainable Fairfield project needs a wiki and collaboration platform. They're using PmWiki and a few other tools. This should form the foundation for other groups in town.
  • KRUU uses a CMS and CRM (drupal and sugarcrm) to run its operations, and manage all hosts. This can be used by any group for their needs.
  • Kelly Custer has built an amazing perma-culture garden around her house, basically creating an edible landscape which can be replicated easily around town with a template. This could result in a completely fruitful Fairfield year-round.
There are probably a hundred projects like this around town. People have amazing ideas and novel solutions. But they have not had a chance to bring their visions together, have them be peer-reviewed, and create solutions that actually fit the needs of this community.
I'm not sure what will come out of BarCampFairfield, but I'm interested to find out if a step can be taken that encourages people to work towards a larger community goal.
Stay tuned for more details - I'll start bringing up the Wiki soon.


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