DemoCamp: Googling for People
People talk a lot about on-line communities, but there are things that only the in-person kind can accomplish. Take last night’s DemoCamp 3, for example. Ninety-plus people crowded into TUCOW’s offices in Toronto to watch half a dozen demos projected against a white-painted brick wall with a nail in it. The most important part for me, though, came afterward.Sean Dawson and I led off with DrProject, and were followed by:
- a jewellery retailing platform;
- a system to help you find local expertise;
- a grassroots learning management system;
- an AJAX chat system to manage conversations around blogs; and
- the collaborative spam filtering in TUCOW's own Blogware.
The demos ranged from earnest to credible; there were plenty of questions after each, and the whole show ran just under two hours.
We adjourned to the pub afterwards, and that’s where the most important part of the evening (for me) got under way. Six of my former students were there, and with the exception of Michelle Levesque, I think it was the first time any of them had seen a bunch of people working a room:
"Hi, I'm with BubbleShare, which is like Flickr, but easy to use. How about you?" "I work for Idee; we're a visual search company---kind of like Google for images. We're looking for someone to do QA." "Really? I think that guy over there does QA. Just met him; want me to introduce you?"
It’s a little intimidating the first time you—oh, who am I kidding? It’s a lot intimidating the first time you try to paddle around in that particular pool, so I wasn’t surprised that my former students huddled together and talked about World of Warcraft. But all around them, they could see people googling for other people. All around them, they could see people practicing the one talent that anyone who wants to change the world needs.
What are you selling? What do you want to buy? What do you want to do? What kind of person are you? Could we work together? Would we inspire each other, or push each other in new and profitable directions? From bazaars in ancient Sumeria to sleazy mob hangouts in St Louis with peanut shells on the floor and .38 caliber holes in the walls, the dance has stayed the same. I’m damned if I know how to teach it, but I’m grateful to the folks at TUCOWS for giving my younglings a chance to learn.