aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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FOO Camp Saturday
Posted by dav at 2003 October 12 12:55 PM
File under: Events

What a day.

The schedule at FOO Camp was set by the participants, a large blank calendar listing the available rooms (along with .their approximate size) was provided Friday night, and by Saturday morning it was filled in with a variety of handwritten ad-hoc geek topics.

I started with the Social Networking session, which quickly proved more popular than the medium sized room could handle comfortably. Danah Boyd acted as our academic expert to get things rolling and we spent a bit of time just arguing over what Social Software is. Then we moved into people introducing social software that they are working on. The creators of meetup.com, upcoming.org and a few others described their experiences. A Microsoft Researcher went introduced one of the best M$ products I've seen: Netscan which does interesting data mining of usenet, and produces pretty pictures.

netscan usenet visualization

I felt like the session wandered around alot, probably because the topic can be interpretated so broadly. I personally would have liked to heard more discussion about practical flexible architectures for mapping and traversing social network topologies, but I don't have the moxie to speak up in such a crowded room unfortunately. But I do think I identified people I'd like to discuss the topic with off line at some later date.

The next session was along the same lines, in my opinion, but apparently not to most of the other Social Software fans. It was Bram Choen's session on Trust Metrics. There were maybe 6 people in attendance for this one. Trust Metrics are ways of measuring trust or reputation in social topologies. Bram gave a good overview of the most common algorithms used including an improved one he recently developed. Read Bram's mind here. Bram is probably the alpha-est alpha geek of whom I know, having created both BitTorrent and codecon. This was my favorite session, mostly because I enjoy algorithm discussions and I learned about a voting system called Condorcet which is better than the instant-runoff algorithm being pushed now in San Francisco.

After that session I attended the geo-geeking session, as geo-geeking was the main reason I was attending the event in the first place. Mike Liebhold did a great job shining light on the tangled web of standards and implementations that are choking the geo-geeking space. I still haven't figured it all out yet though, there's just so much going on and it seems to be all over the map (pun intended). I'd like to create a list of topics in the geo-geeking sphere and have all of the geo-geekers rate the importance of each topic so we can identify the most dense clusters of interest and maybe I can get an idea of what needs to be done first.

The geo-geeking session spilled over past its two hour slot (one of the nice things about an ad-hoc conference is that you can do that), but I skipped out on the extra discussion to attend the Hacking State of the Union session put on by the Schmoo guys who went over the pros and cons of Intrusion Detection Systems. For people representing one organization they had a number of different viewpoints ranging from they're mostly a waste of time and resources to they are an important part of a complete security process.

At various times throughout the day, someone was giving test rides on their segway out back but I never bothered to queue up for a turn at it. It was fun to watch others give it a roll though, and I didn't see anyone fall off.

More fun discussion during the evening with various people and on various topics.....I even ran into someone with whom I could talk chemical informatics: Jesus Castagnetto from San Diego who created the Metalloprotein Database and Browser.


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