Help get this topic noticed by sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, or email.
I’m thankful

What's the criteria O'Reilly uses to figure out who gets invited to Foo Camp?

I'm curious about what it was I did that got me invited this year (not that I'm complaining, believe me!)
1 person has
this question
+1
Reply
  • I've heard that they start with the contributing writers and editors from within the O'Reilly fold and then move outward from there. They sprinkle the event with gurus and futurists. You must fall into this latter category.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned sad, anxious, confused, frustrated

  • The Wikipedia page says: O'Reilly asks attendees to nominate new and interesting people to be invited to future camps. The invite list is calculated to create cross-disciplinary "aha moments" -- new synapses in the global brain, with a focus on emerging technology.

    Were you polled?
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned sad, anxious, confused, frustrated

  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned sad, anxious, confused, frustrated

  • I heard I got in when an O'Reilly higher up saw my new blog and thought I'd have something to contribute.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned sad, anxious, confused, frustrated

  • Percolator got it partially right. We do start with the true "Friends of O'Reilly" -- folks who work with us a lot (employees, partners, authors, contributors etc.) who are in some ways the "beneficiaries" of Foo Camp. From there we work outwards in a bit of a random walk through people we know who we think will be good leaven for interesting conversations and whose latest work we want to see or have others see (i.e. that is, one of our core team wants to introduce his or her friends to the rest of the organization and to other friends), and then we reach out to interesting people who we want to get to know, and to people who our friends think we *ought* to know. This exercise gives us a list of 8-900 people, and then we go through that list and try to organize the equivalent of a great dinner party. We try to make room for at least 50% new people, so that means that we have to cut a lot of people.

    To make this concrete, let me name a few folks:

    Category 1: Core Friend of O'Reilly. e.g. Artur Bergman. A really interesting guy in his own right, Artur also blogs for Radar, works on the etech program committee, and generally contributes to our intelligence as an organization. He's not an employee or even a contractor, but definitely a friend of the company who does a lot of good for us year round. Foo is a small thank you for someone like Artur, or Danese Cooper, or Linda Stone, or Marc Hedlund, who may not work for us but are part of our extended family. Of course, even here, if we picked everyone who is part of that family, we wouldn't have room for anyone else, so even this isn't a sure ticket, and it's certainly not a lack of appreciation if you're not invited every year.

    Category 2: Just darn interesting. e.g. Jeff Jonas. He's one of the most fascinating people I've met in recent years, and I want all my other friends to meet him too.

    Category 3: People we want to meet. Martin Wattenberg. We've been a huge fan (and uer) of his visualizations (e.g. the treemap we use for bookscan visualization) for years but have never met. We were finally able to get him here this year.

    Category 4: People we may know but who have something new or interesting we want to get closer to. Lane, we already knew you from Adaptive Path, but you fell into this category this year, precisely because of satisfaction, which Marc Hedlund has been a big fan of since he first heard about it.

    Category 5: Connections into a new network. There are some areas we're trying to learn more about, with active communities of their own, and we meet someone who can connect us into those communities. A great example of this came a few years back, when we first invited Saul Griffith to the first Foo Camp. Saul was so interesting, with deep contacts into the MIT Media Lab community, materials science, make-related topics etc. that we practically gave him carte-blanche to invite his own friends.

    Category 6: Connections to companies we want to reach out to. TJ Giuli from Ford was an example this year. I met someone from Ford at an Eric von Hippel meeting who said that TJ sounded like our kind of guy. We think there's a lot of interesting action in the auto industry, and we're not very connected there, so we jumped on the recommendation.

    Category 7: Celebrities. OK, there are some people we're going to invite every year, just because every one else will enjoy meeting them, and they bring some extra pizzaz to the party. I mean, if Larry Page was running some no-name startup, he'd still be a darn interesting guy, and we'd be likely to invite him, but given how much everyone appreciates a chance to interact with him, he's welcome any time. Ditto Jeff Bezos, Ray Ozzie. (We've even invited Bill Gates, but he has yet to show :-) Even among celebrities, though, we're looking for people who really participate. If some bigwig comes once and doesn't really participate, they don't get invited back.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned sad, anxious, confused, frustrated

  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned sad, anxious, confused, frustrated

  • I have to say, your post has made me feel a whole lot better about Foo Camp in general, Tim. I admit that my dislike was mostly out of ignorance (specifically with regards to elitism), and I really appreciate the transparency.

    Coming from the land barren of technology (Alaska) I've lived for a long time "on the outside". I've solved that particular issue, but Foo Camp struck me as the good 'ol boys trying to keep me on the outside again. It's just jealousy on my part.

    Guess I'm just going to have to work harder to get noticed!
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned sad, anxious, confused, frustrated

  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned sad, anxious, confused, frustrated

  • based entirely on observation, with no hard data, i'd say this year it was around 70/30 male/female. maybe 65/35.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned sad, anxious, confused, frustrated