Subscribe » Issue #50, Mar-Apr 2014 Mag Cover
Idealog—in the ideas business

Foo You

I attended—or at least turned up for awhile—the first of what I hope will be a regular an event called Foo Camp, a sort of Bible camp for uber-geeks and Web wonks. The weekend was organised by Nathan Torkington, an employee of Silicon Valley based O’Reilly Inc. and occasional Idealog contributor, and by Russell Brown, a regular Idealogger and founder of Public Address. Nat, a Kiwi, now lives here in Enzed.

It was cool, just the sort of event you’d expect if the open source software philosophy was applied to a conference. About 100 people rocked up to Mahurangi College in Warkworth (some from Sydney, many from Wellington, now the centre of Web 2.0 in NZ it seems) on a Friday afternoon and by late Friday night the weekend’s agenda was set—determined by the participants, including the presentations, the locations and times.

By far the most interesting was the talk by Rod Drury about his new company Xero . Rod made a small shed-load last year by selling AfterMail, an email archival system last year to US company Quest. Check out our interview with Rod here .

Xero is an exciting idea: make accounting and money management for small business, simple, online, real time and cheap. Given that there are many millions of SMEs worldwide struggling with the same boring problems, a simple system like this could go ballistic. The next Idealog (out Feb 19) has a feature story about Xero. I cannot say more!

Another really interesting person at the event was Bruce Ferguson, formerly of Kog Transmissions. Bruce and his business partner Mike Hodgson are video artists doing the most amazing stage shows, installations and outdoor stunts. We’ve written about the pair before but for some reason failed to give you all a link to his web site , which has the coolest work on display. The Dark Room, as his company is called, is just another reminder that New Zealand is replete with world class creative talent. Curiously, Bruce is the most un-commercial operator--just a kindly, well spoken and gracious man. The mystery of the creative economy is how any of the boffins, geeks and artists actually make a buck (Rod’s Maserati was parked outside as a reminder that at least one of us does).

I was at Foo camp only briefly but was charmed by the warmth and excitement that’s shared by open source practitioners. It’s a great philosophy based on generosity and creativity. If only the rest of the economy was so well behaved.

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Shucks. You only hear about these things when they're over. Is there a Foo blog, email list or website where aspiring open source geeks can stay in touch for the next camp?

@Simon: It's invite only (by necessity) but there's some info at and Wikipedia has an entry on it too

Hey, that Wikipedia entry is amazing, not so much becasue of the Foo camp stuff but the level of debate about why it is or isn't a separate Wikipedia listing. Check out the discussion here: Open soure is a fascinating thing to watch in practice.

It was 120 all in all, from all over the world - the UK, US, Australia, etc.

Rod's Maserati-taxi made a few trips around Warkworth, but sadly I didn't get to go in it due to the intensive unschedule. It does sound lovely though. There's nothing like an Italian V8…

Nothing like an Italian V8. Hmmm, yes I owend an Italian car once. It broke down more than it drove. There's a great quote from the Dog and Lemon Guide: "if you can't afford a new Italian car, what makes you think you can own an old one?"

That ferrari engine really sounds like a hungry lion dying to roar, had the pleasure of the return trip from akl in rod's machine, sucks to the road like a vacuum on corners, not a car man, but they're some damn cool wheels